Smacking Children is unacceptable, ZCEA tells the Pope

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Judith Mulenga

Judith Mulenga

pope-francis-600Zambia Civic Education Association (ZCEA), an NGO that promotes and advocates for children’s rights has told the Pope that smacking children is unacceptable.

Pope Francis last week stirred up a hornet’s nest with remarks in which he said it’s OK for parents to spank children, so long as they do it with dignity.

The comments came in his general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square, when Francis was talking about the importance of a good father within a family.

“I once heard at a wedding a father say, ‘I sometimes have to hit my children a little but never in the face, so as to not demean them.’ How nice, I thought, he has a sense of dignity,” the Pope said.

But ZCEA Executive Director Judith Mulenga in a statement below to Zambian Eye said smacking children is violence and a violation of children’s rights.

Smacking children is violence against children and therefore a violation of their rights. It does not matter what form or shape or strength it comes in, it is still violence.

No dignity is bestowed on a person by hitting them. Therefore, the Pope’s okaying smacking is unfortunate and flies in the face of child rights principles and standards. Article 19 and 37 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits any form of violence against children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is ratified by all countries in the world including the Vatican City itself except for the USA. Furthermore, the 2006 UN Study on Violence against Children identified smacking as one of the commonest type of violence against children.

The study also identified smacking as the entry point of all forms of violence against children as it is the first instance of abuse that a child first comes across when it arrives in this World. And other studies have further shown that smacking a child sends a signal to the neurons of the smacker that a child is an object to be treated at will by the adult and after that every other form of child abuse comes easier to the perpetrator.

Unfortunately the violence becomes ingrained even on the child that also begins to accept that all forms of violence against its person is ok. From there it is downhill and society degenerates into a violent one because people are raised with violence. Even gender based violence starts from the way society raises and socialises its children.

Human rights are premised on non-discrimination which obligates us not to treat other people differently on any basis. If smacking an adult no matter how gentle the smack is not ok why should smacking a child be acceptable? Why should society offer more protection to adults that can defend themselves than children who are defenceless?

The problem with ‘reasonable chastisement’ that the Holy Father was most probably referring to is that ‘reasonableness’ is determined by the smacker and not by the smacked. When has any child stated that a smacking was ok and left its dignity intact? Is the weight of a slap of a grown man or woman on a 1 year old or even 5 year old always in proportion to the level of pain resistance of a child?

The smacking with dignity that the Holy Father referred to does not happen. What really happens to children in their family settings under the hands of their so called loving parents is as stated by Honourable Jean – Baptise Zoungrana, the former Chairperson of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child who said, ‘Thousands of homes have become real laboratories of violence against children.

This is unacceptable.’ Smacking children has a potential for the risk of getting out of control resulting in serious harm to the child and even death, and we read about these in the media on a daily basis. It is unfortunate that the Catholic Church which is still reeling from the onslaught of accusations and revelations of child sexual abuse and molestations by its clergy can now add violence against children to that record.

The Holy See had a tough time in Geneva when it presented its second periodic State party report on its implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to the Committee on the Rights of the Child prompting the Committee to state in its concluding observation, ‘The Committee is also concerned that the Holy See does not consider corporal punishment as being prohibited by the Convention and has therefore not enacted guidelines and rules clearly banning corporal punishment of children in Catholic schools or Catholic institutions working with and for children and in the home.’

I am not in any way advocating for indiscipline. Discipline is absolutely cardinal in all facets of life. Positive discipline of children such as explaining and reasoning, establishing rules and consequences, praising good behaviour in children and being good models for children develop a child’s conscience and self-control that lessens the risk of harm. I want to end by reiterating Sergio Pinheiro, the independent human rights expert who conducted the Study on Violence against Children, clarion call, ‘No violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children is preventable. No more excuses!’


20 Responses to Smacking Children is unacceptable, ZCEA tells the Pope

  1. Judith, you sound unreal or may be you do not have stubborn children. It is clear that you just want to make news headlines as the woman that stood up to the Pop as way of pleasing your employers.

    Kelvin Shani
    February 10, 2015 at 7:08 am

  2. Proverbs 13:24…”Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” (ESV). This is the word of God. The recent London riots did bring to the fore the hopelessness of both the police and the parents to control the youths because of these charters the good lady makes reference to. We stand to reap the whirlwind when the sons of men begin to think they can modify the word of God

    February 10, 2015 at 7:37 am

  3. Spare the rod and spoil the child. Each parent should find the best way of displining a child. But spanking a child should be an option. In the old days when some of used to go to school we used to be given corporal punishment and most of my naughty friends became successful people now because of this mode of punishment,

    February 10, 2015 at 7:40 am


    February 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

  5. @Kelvin Your explanation is good. This woman is not married, she is arrogant and childless. She does believe in the bible and self centered. There is nothing wrong with spanking a child. It may not be the solution but it is one of the methods to use to discipline a child at a certain age

    Dodoma Daeresalaam Dansania
    February 10, 2015 at 8:19 am

  6. A Papa alibwino, its biblical to train and discipline our children. Uyu mayi afuna kutionongela bana. Ife tiribwino chifukwa makolo anali kutikwapula na luswazi ngati talakwa.

    February 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

  7. Kulopola. Naifwe baletunyesha back in the day. What violence is she talking about? No wonder there is so much indiscipline in our children of today. Its there in the Bible.We will understand if she aint a Christian/believer but let us who believe continue continue spanking our children

    February 10, 2015 at 10:24 am

    • Only primitive savages beat their offspring instead of loving them unconditionaly. Beating your own children is worse than not believing in “pope” Francis stoooopid religion. Country women/men learn to love your own flesh and blood. That stoooooooooopid pope telling you to beat your children has none himself.

      Out Of Africa
      February 10, 2015 at 8:26 pm

  8. ama NGOs ya pa zed have no priorities. Why focus on statements from the Vatican when there are more immediate problems at home? Why are you not commenting on the man who was sexually abusing a sick daughter at UTH? In fact she currently needs help; have you gone over there to help her?

    February 10, 2015 at 10:33 am

  9. Madam Mulenga don’t mislead our children, human rights my foot, don’t tell me that you have never spanked any of your children.

    By the way, do you have children of your own? You sound as if you have never lived with children.

    February 10, 2015 at 11:06 am

  10. I had an occasion 12 years ago when some money went missing in our home. We did not have strangers in our home then. All our three children denied taking the money. I spanked them all. After that I told them I will never hide money in the house and that if any more money went missing, I was going to mete out a similar form of punishment. The money was carefully returned and placed on the table by whoever had stolen it without me or the mother knowing who had stolen it. To date no such incident has ever occurred again. As I promised the children, I do not hide money in the house and no stealing has happened ever since.

    My children are well brought up. I wonder what would have happened to the ‘thief’ if no such punishment was meted out.

    February 10, 2015 at 11:10 am

    • Interesting case! Thanks bro.

      The Visionary
      February 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm

  11. These NGOs made up of single women,mostly divorcees I dont take them serious.Many of the things that they talk about are theoretical.You hear them talk about equality between husband and wife when they are not married.We have rules in the bible of how to raise children and spanking is ONE of them.

    February 10, 2015 at 12:27 pm

  12. Without that, some of us would’nt have grown up into the responsible people that we are, and probably would have ended up being as foolish as some of tenagers I see on the streets, without education, respect for elders and whose only interest lies in smoking, drinking and doing all sorts of mischief.

    February 10, 2015 at 1:42 pm

    • Spot on bro!

      The Visionary
      February 10, 2015 at 3:31 pm

  13. Spoilt ,ungodly ,childless single woman dancing pleasantly to the tune of her business donors. Kikikikikikikiki

    Good Father
    February 10, 2015 at 3:50 pm

  14. Trying to copy Abasungu is what causes confusion in the African mind. we Africans are the greatest imitators ever to live on earth. We imitate everything that the white man does. That is why we have removed corporal punishment from schools; it is so that we can look as civilised as the Europeans. Further Examples?
    1 We have removed the death sentence because Europe no longer hangs its criminals
    2 we now marry one wife becausr they tell us its wrong to be polygamus
    3 We changed our names to European ones so as to carbon copy them.
    4 South Africa changed its football season so as to coincide with the European one and is now lobbying the whole Africa to follow suit. Dont be surprised if FAZ rules tha next league season starts in June.
    5 Our school curriculum is a replica of the English one. I was in Japan and was surprised to see they have their own curriculum.
    6 The oppressor’s suits or Jackets and ties are what is considered formal dress in
    7 we prefer Mrs Lungu to Amake Lungu nyalungu when the latter is more dignified
    Very interesting

    Made a gas car
    February 10, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    • Muzungu’s are your gods. That’s why you wear their clothes and worship them.

      No God No Master
      February 10, 2015 at 8:35 pm

  15. How do you communicate to an under 5 that playing with electricity is dangerous…some kids go on touching anything….. smacking works very quickly…..

    February 11, 2015 at 6:31 am

  16. The woman’s comments are Evil, how was she brouhgt up, has she ever asked her parents, does she have a child/children?
    Ok for evil started with Eve, don’t listen to her.

    February 11, 2015 at 9:59 am

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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31