Child Abuse

Folks always laugh at Faye Dunaway’s portrayal of actress Joan Crawford in the movie “Mommie Dearest.” And yes she was ridiculously over the top. While the movie was borderline parody of Crawford’s life, it did give some insight to the issue of child abuse.  Particularly, at the hands of a hands of a celebrity.  People tend to think children are better off  when they are being raised in a wealthy home.

Another film that takes a more horrifying look at child abuse is “An American Crime.”  I watched this movie a couple of months ago on Netflix. The film kept me up all night after I watched it, with the lights on. “An American Crime” is based on the true story of neglect and abuse of 15-year-old Sylvia Likens.

I am bringing up these two films to show that child abuse runs deep in our country. The truth is the majority of us don’t take children seriously. I am from the South where folks are quick to say children should be seen and not heard. They are also quick to grab a belt or switch to “tear that azz up” if  child gets out of line.

Personally, I hated being a kid. You have no rights and are vulnerable to the flaky whims and exploitation of adults.

When I saw the pictures of the open wounds football player Adrian Peterson left on his 4-year old son, I was disgusted. It brought back memories of when I got “whooped” as a child. While my parents never went as far as Peterson, unfortunately “whoopings” are overly embraced in the Black community.

Recently, I visited a blog where Black folks were talking about the Peterson case, the majority of folks bragged about their whoopings as a child. They bragged about being forced to get their own switch from a tree or running from grandma’s shoe. All claimed it made them better people.

I don’t look fondly back on the whoopings I received. I don’t believe in spanking children. I think spankings are problematic because when is it enough? Parents tend to take their frustrations out on their children, as it looks like in the Peterson case.

For Black parents, who often are having to navigate daily microaggressions, racism, harassment and other forms of white oppression, I’m sure are releasing some of that stress onto their children.

It has been argued whippings/whoppings came out of slavery. I’d buy it.

“Of course, slaves were personal property and were supposed to be obedient. And slave masters could do with them as they pleased, without repercussions, including beating them…For the ancestors of today’s African-Americans, the physical violence of slavery — including whipping, beating and other acts — served to humiliate them, break them, and keep them in control. And even after slavery up until today, many black parents have disciplined their children by giving them a “whoopin” or a beating every now and then, some more often than others.”

I don’t have children. So maybe it’s easy for me to be on my high horse on this issue.  I have a friend who said she would never let her child watch TV. And guess what, the child watches TV.  She found that it helped to distract her child when she needs to do chores around the house.

I would like to think I would stick to my principle of not hitting a child on their defenseless body.  I mean, people don’t have to be parents. If folks have decided to take on the responsibility of parenting, at least make an effort to learn about the various was to correct a child, not just beat them down.