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Violence "not" a part of Pacific culture - SPC

Human rights are deeply Pacific values, Dr. Audrey Aumua, Deputy Director of the Pacific Community said, and should not be considered antithetical to each other in the efforts to improve life for children in the region.

Speaking during the Committee on the Rights of the Child meeting in Samoa this week Dr. Aumua told the Samoa Observer that historically, all the values known as ‘human rights’ were closely guarded in the Pacific, but that a changing society has made them harder to hold onto.

Today, Pacific parents need more guidance and education to rid themselves of the idea that violence and corporal punishment are “part of our culture.

“Actually, it’s not. There is no culture in my mind that promulgates the value of hitting children or corporal punishment,” Dr. Aumua said.

“What I think is the issue is that we have as a society and as a community have never had the benefit of good parenting practice.”

So far throughout the committee sessions, the 13 member expert team heard from Samoan children and representatives from Kiribati and Tuvalu. Each have shared in some way that abuse against children continues to be a difficult problem to solve. 

Faith plays its own role too, with the biblical instruction to ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ interpreted to mean that physical discipline is essential for raising a good person. 

Dr. Aumua said families need to push back against that idea, and develop new understandings of “good parenting” that does not involve hitting children.

“We as parents, as communities and as governments needed to evolve a different view around what good parenting looks like; how do we manifest that within our communities and how do we protect as what we have always known to be the right thing?”

She believes with children and adults learning to change together, there will not be clashes between the two as practices evolve.

“It’s about mutual education, where children, parents and community collectively move forward, understanding the issues and problem solving together so there isn’t a tension.”

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