Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Heartless justice

Published:Thursday | October 5, 2017 | 12:00 AM


No matter how many public sermons we conduct concerning the mother seen beating her daughter with a machete in a video circulated this weekend past, making her into a criminal is not going to fix the perennial problems of poverty, lack of good parenting skills, and, likely, mental-health issues.

This unfortunate triad of issues is deeply embedded in our society and is a chronic part of what ails us, though many are wont to either dismiss or cover it up. The issues are, in other words, more widespread than some of us are prepared or care to admit.

That said, having read some of the posts and commentaries concerning the video, it appears that most of us are responding based on our own experiences with similar abuse by our own parents and caregivers.

We are, in effect, vicariously sticking it to our own parents and caregivers for their own routine lapses in right judgement and capacity to show love to their children. I don't know about you but that does not seem to be an appropriate response either. As such, many of us have gleefully poured out collective scorn on this woman and have even attempted to shame her for, what is reportedly, a very rare 'blow-up', albeit a very dangerous one. This is not the answer either.

It is almost as if for some of us, our outrage has more to do with pay-back than a genuine fix to this situation. And, yes, it is definitely abuse. There is no doubt about that. 'Doreen D', was very wrong in how she chose to discipline her child. There is no getting around that.




However, even, while abuse is never to be condoned and all criminals should be placed behind bars, once their criminality is so determined in a court of law, I wonder about the rush to judgement and the condemnation heaped on this woman. Might there be value in understanding how she came to be in that situation?

Was she exposed to instances of positive role modeling and was she able to learn from them about appropriate conflict resolution and positive parenting skills vis-a-vis discipline, in particular? Is it that Doreen was, herself, a victim of abuse - damned to unconsciously repeat the pathology until she is truly helped?

And what of her family? How are they coping now that the primary breadwinner is now behind bars and has, effectively, been made into national pariah as a result of the recording and release of this video to the public? Does that further affect their already battered sense of esteem, and how might it hinder any future efforts to positively intervene in this situation?

It seems to me that, even as we express concern about the safety of the child in the video, many of us have basically signed her mother's 'death warrant'. And are now, only awaiting the hangman's noose. That is very sad commentary on the state of justice in our society.

Agostinho Pinnock