Superstars Chris Brown and Rihanna are the poster children for domestic violence. You know the story. A lover’s quarrel in 19-year-old Brown’s car led to a beating so brutal that neither were able to make scheduled appearances at the Grammy Awards later that night.
Rihanna ended up with a badly bruised and swollen face, Brown with an arrest record and the two of them back together again. Apparently, Rihanna, 21, and Brown’s teenage fans are willing to forgive him for his behaving badly.
Their spat gone violent might be worth all the attention it’s received if it was not so common. As black nationalist H. Rap Brown observed four decades ago: Violence is as American as apple pie.
That’s particularly true when it comes to home and to those who are intimately involved partners. There are nearly two million injuries in this nation each year resulting from domestic violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, victims of severe domestic violence–like Rihanna–annually miss 8 million days of paid work; that’s the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs, and approximately 5.6 million days of household productivity.
And while I abhor the practice of a man beating his woman senseless–or slapping her around for that matter–I believe it’s worst when a parent whips a child.
Although, like Rihanna, many abused women fail to dump their abusing lover, abused children rarely have that choice to make. In the name of love and discipline, a parent can beat a child day in and day out without rebuke as long as that child doesn’t end up with welts and bruises–or in the ER. But that old school discipline that so many old school parents are so fast and proud to dish out is nothing but an act of violence.
If I pulled off my belt and decided to whip a complete stranger walking down the street, I’d go jail if not to the morgue. That reality and those rules don’t apply to the most defenseless Americans–small children.
Citing “spare the rod, spoil the child,” far too many Americans believe that when it comes to punishing children, that which doesn’t kill them will make them stronger.
But, in reality, it’s poor parenting, not spared rod, spoil the child. Our prisons are overcrowded with men who got their butts whipped as children at home AND on the streets. Rather than beating up your child because you’re bigger and stronger, wouldn’t it be better to teach them how to behave by reasoning with them and punishing through non-violent means? Time-outs work. So do revoked privileges. Teaching by example is tops. For example, when I was a child, my father told me any curse word I heard him use I could use. Since I never heard him use one, he never heard me use one.
If you teach a child that violence is a means to get what you want, then violence becomes an early and easy option. The jails are filled with men–and boys–who got their asses whipped on regularly. Rather than learning reasoning and self-control, they learned that physical abuse is the way to control or address problems.
And, isn’t it strange that parents feel free to beat up–whip–their children while they’re little but stop as soon as they get big enough to make it a fair fight?
The same principle holds true for two lovers. Had Rihanna been bigger, stronger or a black belt, Chris Brown would have thought long and hard before he struck out.