Beaten to a pulp

One evening over dinner, when we often share stories about how the day had been. Yeye had news to share inspired by her friend at school. Her friend was curious about something she was told is common in African households, my daughter is the only one in the class of 18 children that remotely looked black so she is the perfect person to answer the question.

“Do your parents beat you?” the six years old *Curious Clara asked.

“I hope you told her the truth” I said.

“Yes, I did” Yeye responded.

“Great, did you remember to add the time I had to shove you down the chimney to clean it up because you asked for a second?” I joked.

Yeye gives a ‘stop the joke’ look

Because Yeye was as curious as Clara so she asked her friend the same question and wanted to know why Clara came about parents beating children of all questions.

Curious Clara has a nanny who is originally from somewhere in Africa, she was the one who told Clara how lucky she was to be born into her type of household where child abuse i.e beating is a no, no unlike black people who beat their children.

Clara’s nanny was not entirely wrong, I don’t get upset for this kind of generalisation anymore because it is something we brag about openly on TV drama as the way to impact discipline into children.

While Curious Clara believed Yeye’s side of the story, stories of child abuse is all over the internet now, how do we stop this if not from home?

The latest I read is about three-year old Peter whose parents out of the goodness of their heart (or not) let him live with his Aunty. Monday, Peter’s Aunty is said to have been married for 7 years but is yet to have a child of her own so made arrangement with Peter’s parents to look after him and in turn keep her company in Lagos.

This kind of arrangement is very common, many people in the city live with their relatives. There are lots of success stories whereby a relative from the village moved to the city or even out of the country to help out with childcare and household chores and in return Uncle/Aunty pays to take care the child’s primary needs and education.

Peter’s case  isn’t one of the successful stories, he was only 3 years old and his Aunty thinks he was pooping on himself so she is determined to beat Peter until the ‘spirit of pooping’ leaves him.

Here is what the DPO, Badmos Dolapo, Isokoko Police Division, had to say when she saw the scars on the toddler’s body:

“In all my years in the police force, I have never cried. But seeing the damage that had been done to this child, I could not hold back tears; I wept like a baby. She had been brutalised. We will not leave any stone unturned in this case,”

We can excuse Mrs Monday for not knowing that a three year old boy still needed help with potty training but what is certain is that she was once a child herself so where is the sensibility here?

It is promising that cases of child abuse is coming out in the open, and that people are encouraged to report extreme cases around them to the police. Maybe case such as this will push the government to do something about child abuse offences  in the way that children are protected in future.


*Not her real name

Categories: Africa, Education, Nigeria

Tags: , , ,

19 replies

  1. Very interesting post. I detest corporal punishment for many reasons.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think hitting a child has no place in modern society. I was ‘flogged’ when I was a child and back then I thought it was acceptable and incorrectly believed it was the reason I’m a well balanced individual.

    But that is incorrect.

    I prospered despite being flogged and not because of it.

    Don’t get me wrong, my parents didn’t go for the whip every time I was naughty. This happened only on extreme cases. Say, about 4 times a years.

    Now I have my children of my own and my wife made it clear there would be no spanking or, god forbid, flogging. Initially I scratched my head on how we can exert some discipline but I can tell you now my children (6 and 4 years) are as scared of timeouts as I was of being flogged. However, we use timeouts as a last resort – probably twice a year. Most issues are resolved by a stern look or simply taking them to a corner and speaking to them at eye level. We believe because of this they are confident and expressive children. We don’t want to have it any other way.

    Flogging and physical abuse is a lazy person’s way out at best and downright evil at worst. I think my parents are the earlier.

    It breaks my heart to read about these poor children that are physically harmed by these forms of punishment. Those that survive this physical abuse don’t always make it through the emotionally harm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the contribution to this topic.

      I totally agree with you, hitting a child is a lazy way of discipline children. I too was hit as a child at home by my father on occasion but as adult I realised he was not always like that – adults have reputation of transferring unrelated anger to kids around under the disguise of discipline.

      That’s a good point regarding emotional harm, that is probably the biggest issue as it is not always easy to spot.


      • @folakemiodoaje, I usually don’t respond to topics but found this too compelling to miss. I also like the way you write.

        If we leave aside the ignorance of some people like the case of ‘beating out the poop spirit’ from a child, and focus on sensible adults that feel that beating is a good form of discipline. I’ll like to highlight that the most important way that a child learns is through mimic.

        Children mostly learn from copying us adults and other children. I was pleased to read of your view on the subject of beating as many Nigerians I know feel the need to hit a child (like I was almost resigned to). Why? Because that’s what our parents did to us. Fortunately it wasn’t how my wife was brought up.

        Children learn mostly from copying than discipline. We forget that.

        Setting good examples (do I say do) is more powerful than lessons taught through punishment. But I cede a child can pick up bad habits or just experiment. But that’s what children do. It’s the process of growing up. At this point, lessons through words they understand from someone they love, trust, and respect is more potent than punishing. It is much harder not to punish but is a better route. When all fails a simple timeout is a good alternative but should always be followed by a discussion afterwords on what they did wrong.

        Some may say, what about when words don’t work? Then please believe me that hitting will definitely make matters worse. A child is more petrified of losing your love and respect than anything else. It is more damaging to them than anything else when they are young. That is of course if you’ve built up that love and respect with them. I still remember the time my son felt I didn’t love him any more when I asked him to leave my home office for being too loud. I’d not seen him cry more since that day – he was 3. It was a lesson for me to be careful how I react.

        Interestingly children will interpret physical punishment as a parents love that is lost, making them loose respect in you in the long run and be more detached. You may think the opposite but that is not true. There are many studies on this.

        You (and I) who I suspect also have a way to go to bring up our children to be responsible happy adults without resorting to physical punishment can relish on some good examples set by some parents (my example is my wife’s) who have already done it.

        This is my personal opinion and I understand some may disagree but I that’s the spice of life 🙂

        This will be my last post. Good luck and I wish you the very best.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you Olisa. Appreciate your honest comment. I completely agree with your viewpoints, I too found that ‘timeouts’ to be very effective as my children too really do not like being given one so they do behave.

          I think the more people share the not-so-glamorous of the way we were raised, the more lights we can shed in the area.

          Oh, please drop by again soon to share from your wealth of knowledge 🙂


  3. Yeye is lucky to have a mother like you, reasonable, logical, open-minded and understanding, when she grows up she will count ‘her lucky stars’.

    The idea of sending your child elsewhere to be raised, to ‘relatives’ and hoping for the best, to me seems somewhat of a ‘easy way out’ and is an abdication of responsibility. As they say ‘where there is a will there is a way’ if they do have to send their child (children) away, they should be in regular contact with them. Obviously, they should have a deep relationship with their child, so that the child can confide with them.

    People back in the day had more kids, and equally bad if not worse physical conditions and still managed to raise their ‘household’ of children.

    I don’t know, this is where the culture gap comes in, in Britain parents treasure having their kids around them to savour those formative years and shared experiences. They have kids photos littered all over the living room and at their work desks of those ‘golden moments’ and fondly recall them. So to hear of Nigerian parents willingly sacrificing such memories for apparently material considerations is saddening. Maybe someday, those Nigerian parents too will value the presence of having their children around, rather than parceling them off to some ‘relative’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, jco. As we say ‘I’m trying,’ hope we could keep it together through teenage years…

      This is one of the many parts of our culture that we need to be open about. We are very trusting so much so that the reason for given up one’s own child to a relative can be as simple as Peter’s case, in Yoruba we say ori omo lo n pe omo w’aye (having a child around draws another child into the world) meaning it is good for a family struggling to have a child of their own to have a relative they can look after as that somehow might help them to conceive. Maybe there are some psychological benefits to this but it totally negates the fact that delayed pregnancy/infertility can be as a result of many factors and of course never in the best interest of a toddler to be separated from parents at such a young age.

      It is interesting thinking about this because if you think about it, isn’t this similar to what the rich ones do with boarding schools? I was on a flight with a woman who had ‘crazy’ schedule and happy to leave her 5 and 7 year olds in a boarding school, her reason was that the school takes care of the kids than her husband would. Simi Bedford in her book Yoruba Girl Dancing narrated her ordeal as a 6 year old girl ‘thrown’ on a boat in the 60’s to attend boarding school in the UK – it was unbelievable, and again she thought her father’s reason was so she could have English education. But at 6 years old?

      I suppose sharing experience of both sides could help families assess their options better rather than just follow what everyone does. Some pretty sickening stories out there that no child should have to go through.


      • I went to a boarding school in the UK for part of my studies. It is strictly a minority affair ie only a small segment of the population use it. Those that do, the majority of students are ‘day students’ ie they return home after school. There are a few businessmen, professionals and top military who send their kids to these boarding establishments, the rest of the places are taken by foreigners who want their kinds to have a ‘British’ education.
        Most people tend to want to keep their kids as close to home as possible, to see their children grow and form a relationship with them.

        In the case of Simi Bedford, I would say the father thought he had done his ‘bit’ by providing her with a good formal education. Little did he know that fatherhood goes beyond that. Maybe he was trying to kill ‘two birds with one stone’ get her out of the way whilst saying he did it for her good,when really it was his own good he was looking after.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Questions;
    1: Are you completely against all forms of ‘Physically administered’ punishments on a child?
    2: Do you feel your personal experience had an impact in how you answer above?

    Liked by 1 person

    • 1. Yes, I am. Because I believe there are better ways of getting points across, how about ‘time outs’ where they had to be alone for a set time or withdrawing anticipated rewards?

      2. To a degree. I have had a few posts on this topic, my parents are not big on beating, however my father at one point was, this coincided with the time he had personal issues so gets upset easily whereas before this time he gave ‘time outs’ sort of punishment and warnings.

      And you see case such as Peter’s is very common, hence we need honest conversation. Potty training is a process, the more you scare the child, the longer it takes.

      Here’s my school experience:

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am not big on hitting a child. Never was. But I was a VERY naughty child and I thank God to this day my mum beat the shit out of me. I just look at how all my childhood buddies ended up and I know how badly I would have ended up if she didn’t.

        I believe beating kids had its place in the past, but not in these modern times. Even the western world had their turn at trashing kids in their history. The trend changes with time & I guess it evolves gradually as cultures become more civilized. Still flogging, spanking had its place & to some extend still does.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good points. I try to see this from Nigeria perspective rather than what is socially acceptable in the west be it at school or at home.

          Take the last two posts I did on the issue, one child ended up with ruptured stomach for collecting a gift from an Aunty and a three year old sent to coma from beating for being too slow to master potty training – these are all extreme cases regardless of where it happens in the world.
          I don’t think any Nigeria neighbours would report one another to the police because the other spanks or flogs their child, we are not going to change from that mindset anytime soon but there should be a platform where extreme cases can be reported.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. I think child abuse is also a sign of a troubled parent who has issues that they need to sort out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Child abuse is so troublesome. Maybe child rearing could be taught in schools. I don’t think they teach it here yet. Child abuse still happens here from time to time and sometimes it is fatal. Good to discuss it Fola. I just shake my head in sadness.

    Liked by 1 person

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