SPANKING - Questions and answers about disciplinary violence
Olivier Maurel


Introduction to the EMIDA Family Education Program
(Élimination de la Maltraitance Infantile Domestique en Afrique1
[Eliminate Domestic Child Abuse in Africa])
Working to Make the Family a Place of Safety and Flourishing

The EMIDA program was born out of the realization that in Africa, the typical upbringing of children relies mainly on beatings, disciplinary violence which families use on their children as a means of forcing them to behave in the manner desired by parents.

Numerous studies conducted in the West demonstrate the harmful effects of disciplinary violence on the development and structuring of who the child is as a person and who he will grow up to be. The child becomes submissive, passive, without self-confidence; he feels guilty. He fails to assume responsibility, lacks initiative, engages in double-talk, becomes more self-centered and finds it hard to be considerate of others. The society, thereofore, is not sufficiently dynamic nor very creative. Submission, passivity, and violence reign, thus promoting tribal warfare. Irresponsibility and selfishness lead to corruption. Submission and irresponsibility do not allow for true democracy.

It is this plague, so detrimental to African society's development and potential to thrive, that our organization seeks to remedy through the EMIDA program. Notwithstanding the shock we all feel any time we see or learn of violent acts against children, the EMIDA program seeks to take action with an exclusive focus on "typical" disciplinary violence in the family - typical because it is the only mode of discipline known here - and as a corollary, on disciplinary violence at school. We find these self-imposed limits to be easily justified, convinced as we are that "Every act of physical violence against any human being originates first and foremost from disciplinary violence in the family, violence which the adult had instilled in him during childhood." . . .

EMIDA's goal is to expand its outreach to all the black nations of Africa as quickly as possible. By extrapolation, this would mean 218 million children who are now affected by this violence. That's huge! . . .

Our program consists mainly of offering to youth, young parents and young couples a new model for parent-child relationships based on expressions of love, on dialogue, and on mutual respect. In practical terms, this will involve training young psychologists or sociologists so that they have the fullest possible understanding of this new relationship, allowing them to discover the great interpersonal rewards that it will bring and even to adopt a new standard in their own lives. They will be EMIDA's instructors.

These instructors will be sent in pairs to train young coordinators who are already in charge of church youth groups, student associations, and groups of young people in general. Once trained, these coordinators, with the support of their Trainers, will train young people of their villages and neighborhoods, not only training them but also providing long-term follow-up.

In terms of implementation, the budget for the EMIDA Family Education Program is based on self-contained modules of variable size, and therefore of variable cost

An entity which plans to fund such a module will know from the start that their module will provide for, say, 20 instructors, 200, coordinators, and 3,000 young future parents, each module having autonomy and sufficient funds to cover all steps involved in that module's implementation

The EMIDA Family Education Program is, it seems to us, a completely new endeavor. In all likelihood, this will be the first time that a voluntary transformation of the parent-child relationship is set into motion on a continental scale, with the simple aim of helping individuals and society to flourish. As of year's end for 2002, EMIDA has trained a little more than 5,000 current and future parents in five provinces of Cameroon.

EMIDA has been approached by the ENAAS [National School of Social Work] to provide regular education classes as well as to conduct a training seminar for all graduating students. A considerable number of Cameroonian institutions (such as the army, the sultan of the Foumban region, UNAIDS, the Institute of International Research, and the media) are now making appeals to EMIDA. Contacts in Togo, Haiti, and Chad plan to set up EMIDA training facilities as soon as some modest financial resources come their way.

EMIDA, pour l'Education dans la Famille
Quartier Bastos Nylon,
BP 14197 Yaoundé, Cameroon
Telephone/fax: ( 237 ) 22 21 35 83
Mobile: ( 237 ) 99 98 06 39
[contact and website information updated 2009]
Crédit Suisse Lausanne: EMIDA account: 185953-70-1)
Standard Chartered Bank Yaoundé: 01001-20789-00

Proceed to:


Proceed/return to:


1 – A Brief History of Disciplinary Violence
2 – The Nature of Disciplinary Violence and Opinions on the Matter
3 – Why we must stop using corporal punishment
4 – How can we raise children without hitting?
5 – Why is it necessary to ban disciplinary violence?
6 – What to do?
7 – Question for the author
8 – Questions for the reader

World geography of disciplinary violence by continent and country

I – Introduction for the EMIDA Family Education Program
II – Why the Church must denounce ordinary disciplinary violence
III – Resistance every advocate of a spanking ban can expect to face
IV – Declaration against "disciplinary" violence



1. TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: EMIDA has changed its full name to Education pour le Mieux-être de l'Individu et le Développement de l'Afrique (Education for Personal Well-Being and Development of Africa).