(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – It is a video no one should have to watch, or worse, see spread virally across the Internet — footage of a mother mercilessly beating her child, believed to be no more than five years old.
In the unfortunate video that has drawn the ire of many, the woman is captured flogging the child — whose screams of horror were too much for some to bear — with what appeared to be a belt.
This is the second video to have gone viral since the start of the year in which a parent is seen beating a child.
“Wah mi tell yuh seh? Lef outta company lef outta company. A day time mi send you go school fi do yuh work; work mi send yuh go a school fi do. Mi will kill you. Yuh hear wah mi seh? Stop play wid him,” the obviously enraged mother declared A blow followed each declaration.
Having thrown the child to the ground, the woman continues her assault, saying to the child: “Yuh naah go mek dem shoot mi…Next time a di buckle mi a use,” the woman added, while hitting the child repeatedly in her face.
Desperate for the abuse to stop, the little girl screamed: “Mi a go stop mommy; mi a go stop.”
The 10-minute long video appeared to have been recorded by the child’s older sibling, who at times had to answer questions about her behaviour at school.
Contacted yesterday, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Floyd Green commented that the authorities had seen the video and that investigations are underway.
“It’s very difficult to watch. I found the video extremely disturbing and very painful when you think about the suffering that the child would have gone through,” Green told the Jamaica Observer in a telephone interview.
He noted that it pointed to a larger problem in society in relation to how Jamaican parents discipline children, what is deemed to be appropriate, and how behavioural changes are communicated.
“I think that all the research shows that the best way to communicate with a child is not through beating. Even watching the video, I think a lot of us would have been thinking how would this help that young child to change her behaviour if that’s what the mother wanted.
“We have legislation that protects our children …and that appears to fall into the remit of cruelty, which a child is protected from under our laws,” Green said.
He noted that the instructions given to the police, as it related to cases like this one, involve them taking firm action against such behaviour from parents and adults.
“This is so our parents, no matter how well meaning they may be, understand that there is a difference between discipline and cruelty and abuse of a child. As such, the matter has been reported to our Child Protection and Family Services Agency and also to the police, who have started their investigations so that we can locate the mother. As a society we have to signal to others that this is unacceptable,” the state minister disclosed.
He added that the ministry had been strengthening the parenting commission in order to have more support and resources for parents to indicate different ways that they can discipline and punish a child.
“It’s something that our new established agency will also be focusing on; hence, we’ve included family services. We’ve already started to put together various public service announcements that will help guide our parents on options that they may have and different ways of intervention,” he stated.
He reiterated Prime Minister Andrew Holness’s position that a frank conversation must be had as it relates to whether or not beating is the best form of discipline, and noted that the discussion will soon move to Parliament.
Green said two public forums are planned by the parenting commission to mark the month as parents’ month, as well as to have discussions on the best way forward in terms of disciplining their child.
“The reality is that we do understand that a number of parents do get frustrated and oftentimes it may not be what the child has done, but the reality is that we have a responsibility to protect our children. Frustration cannot be an excuse to abuse a child.
“What parents need to do is to recognise that it’s probably best that they turn to somebody else if they are feeling frustrated in relation to talking about the issues or stress. What I would say to parents is to not try to discipline a child when you are angry, or when you are extremely frustrated, because it may have you go down a path where you may not have necessarily gone under ordinary circumstances. The child is not the way to take out that stress,” he said.