From Falafel to Freedom: Discipline over Demeanor

Marianna Michael

On New Year’s Eve, my cousin called me over to the computer to show me a YouTube video by comedian Russell Peters. The first thing that came into my head was that it would be horrendous. Who wants to watch a comedian talk about people beating their kids? This is not something about which you can joke. After I watched the first five minutes I realized that it is a subject that needs to be addressed.

Mr. Peters started by joking about how different nationalities beat their kids. He started off with the Ukrainians who just have to hit their kids with perogies or cabbage. After that he went on to the Jamaicans and said that they hit their kids “just in case.” Chinese people just have to take a Kung Fu position to scare their kids. Mr. Peters, who is Indian himself, ended the first part of his dialogue saying Indians don’t mind killing their kids because they can always replace them and “make another one.” These are all stereotypes that can most definitely be refuted — and one comedian’s standpoint on different cultures that he has probably never experienced.

But as I was listening to it my mind flooded back to all the stories of how Egyptian parents will throw anything (and I mean ANYTHING) at their children that is in close range. Usually it starts with a mother taking off her sandal or flip flop then the child realizes the danger and they start running away. The child thinks this is how they can stall their mom. They have never been more wrong in their life. This gives the mom more room and time to find other objects that she can throw.

Is this child abuse? Far from it. This is called discipline.

When I hear that a parent is fined or jailed for hitting their kid on child abuse charges, it baffles my mind. Who would hit their kid hard enough or frequently enough to make a lasting impression? When my parents would give me a spanking I would always get a hug and a kiss afterwards and have the opportunity to learn what I did wrong. If someone is being beaten I definitely think that it should be brought to the attention of higher authority. If someone knows of another person who is being abused then they should report it because that person is just as responsible for the person being abused as the abuser themselves. Parents need to know that there is a line between discipline and abuse.

I remember my mom used to squeeze my wrist in public to give me a warning that, if I went on, we would be making a memorable trip back home. My cousins told me that their pressure point with their mom was their shoulder. These are the things we remember, the little things that forewarned a punishment and always kept us in line. Did our parents “beat” us just to hurt us? No, they did it to get a point across and it was never harsh enough to even be considered child abuse. I think that if my parents did not do that I would not have listened to them and I would not have become disciplined.