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GAL FRIDAY: It is time we take a stand

Veoma Ali

GAL FRIDAY: It is time we take a stand

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“IF YOU CAN conceive it, you can achieve it.” How many times have you heard this before? I, for one, have conceived numerous times and can attest to that concept. On Tuesday’s CBC TV8 news broadcast, the Minister of Education, Ronald Jones, stated: “There are some parents who should never (pregnant pause) have conceived!”

Now you and I know that the outspoken Minister is often criticised. Some will say that he ‘playing God’ or may even question his authority on making such a proclamation. But let us look at the spirit and context in which this remark was made, as he railed against corporal punishment.

We do not all agree with the abolition of the biblical rod, but I am certain we all agree that punishment should not be synonymous with abuse. For example, take your mind back to the days when you would play hooky. I know of a few fellas who used to be sleeping in caves when they were supposed to be sitting in class. When they got caught, they could neither sit nor stand, due to the cut-tail they collectively collected. All of those recipients of the rod now look back and laugh at those times. (All happen to be well adjusted citizens; professionals, at the top of their game).

But back to the conception comment. When the Minister hears about children with marks on their bodies; with behaviours overtly manifesting the abuse which occurs in the home; with neighbours who have called the relevant authority numerous times due to severe beatings; with fear as their daily mantra, what can be the deduction? You tell me!

If you’ve ever seen the movie Mommie Dearest, you’d be able to nod vigorously in agreement with Minister Jones. The protagonist is a child of a mother who is abusive, who frequently brings strange men into the home, demanding that the child call them “uncle”; and who guises her abuse under the misnomer of “discipline”.

How many of us know such characters in real life?

I have a soft spot in my heart for the aged, animals and children. How many more tragedies (because every abuse is tragic) will it take for us to take a stand as a society and question ourselves – demanding answers, this time? Or would we continue to let the cycle reproduce like ill-equipped parents; thus propagating the hurt and pain?

Physical abuse is what can most times be seen by others. Psychological abuse may not so easily be detected. When children are silently threatened behind closed doors and go to school with terror in their hearts; and when they finally divulge this information, what do we do? Do we act? Or do we shove it under the carpet because we ourselves are in fear – of shame, of offending a friend, of losing a liaison?

Child abuse is real – and it may be nearer than you think. May we salute those members of the Child Care Board who honour their roles, with not just talk but action.

Veoma Ali is an author, broadcaster, advertising exec and, most important, a karaoke lover.