Violence Begins At Home: And Ends At Home?
I am completely against smacking in all circumstances. Children will not become good peaceful people if violence is used to control them. There is always an emotional scar involved in that and emotional scarring is what leads people to all kinds of violence.
I once looked after a child for a friend for six months. He, age five, was a nightmare: kicking, punching, screaming. Not just tantrums but absolute rage against everything.
It wasn’t his fault. His father left him with his aunt’s older son whilst conducting an affair with the aunt and the older boy used to inflict pain on him for fun. His mother was alcoholic and completely unnavailable emotionally. His father was an abuser of everyone concerned. His grandparents were oldschool fear merchants.
For the first month, every time it started, I swept him up in my arms, held him tight enough that he could not hurt either of us and told him that was what I was doing. His rage got worse and worse for a while, then stopped.
One time only he actually managed to give me a full on kick in the balls when I wasn’t paying enough attention. I struck out in shock at the pain and smacked him on the leg. I learned in that moment that I still had a lot to learn about self control.
After three months, as we sat eating dinner one day, he looked up from his meal. “Matthew, he said, “you’re actually here to help me aren’t you?”. “Yes”, I replied, “that’s exactly why I’m here”.
Nothing more was ever said but in that moment he expressed his realisation that not all adults were going to hurt him, lay trips on him or try constantly to control him. In that moment he admitted that he and I were both OK.
I fear that whenever a big person uses violence or the fear of violence to control a little person they are only adding to the violence in the world and the unpredictability. Children need to grow up centred in themselves as feeling persons, not supressing their true selves to avoid violence.
On this one I’m with Alice Miller. I think we would not accept a world where one in four kids are sexually molested and 30,000 die needlessly every day unless we ourselves had our feelings beaten out of us by our repressive families, upbringing and society.
The start of true peace on the planet has to be in the heart of each person, finding that it is possible and desirable. Violence against children makes this unrealisable for the vast majority of people. We have to stop the violence somewhere and the right place is at home in childhood.
Originally posted as a comment to a piece at the excellent cybersatan