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“God's words should never be used as license for abuse” faifeau tells parents

Rev. Fa’atauva’a Talamoni delivered a stern message against child abuse and urged parents, that when they are angry, not to use their children “as punching bags” and not to use God’s words cited in the Bible to discipline children as “a license for abuse”.


The CCCAS-Pago Pago church minister was speaking Wednesday at the ‘National Day of Hope Candlelight Vigil’ at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium, which was part of American Samoa’s observance of "National Child Abuse and Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Month” in March.


The service was organized by the Department of Human and Social Service’s Children and Family Services Division.


Talamoni told the audience that when it comes to parents hearing the words, “child abuse” and “teenage pregnancy”,many people — especially parents — are quick to defend themselves, always saying that such behaviors “are forbidden in our household. And many are genuine with their confession.”


“However, most are not aware there may be some type of abuse happening in their own household, whether it's mental, physical, or spiritual abuse.  And many parents don’t realize that they—most of the time— might be the offenders, victimizing their own children,” he said.


Talamoni said he has witnessed “so many parents beat their children senseless, saying very cruel things to them, because they are so angry.” The parent will then tell him that, the reason for beating the child is because the child was misbehaving and the child needed to be disciplined, he said.


And his “usual answer is” that — it’s true a child must be disciplined, and taught right from wrong — but what the parent did “was not teaching — it was abuse — because the parent was angry.”


The reverend said, “There’s a big difference in teaching a child, which many of us... call discipline — and hurting a child” and quickly added, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m old school. I’m all for discipline, but discipline with the right methods, and the right approach. Not because we’re angry, and use our children as punching bags.”


Talamoni said the Candlelight Vigil is a great program, as it is a reminder and a wake up call to everyone regarding the importance of this issue; calling child abuse a “fa’ama’i” — a disease — which is spreading throughout the territory.


He told the audience, which included those who watched the tape-delayed program aired Wednesday night on KVZK-TV, the “Bible gives us much practical advice on the subject of raising your child, our children” and cited a verse from the Book of Proverbs, which calls for teaching and disciplining a child from a young age, before reaching adulthood.


“So parental discipline is important — is essential — but some parents view these Scriptures, as having absolute power, like some type of dictator. This is not true,” Talamoni said. “God’s words should never be used as a license for abuse.”


The faifeau explained, “Parents need to discipline their children, but in the right manner, the right way. They must keep their emotions and actions in check because in God’s eyes there’s simply no justification for any type of abuse.


“Children have a special place in God’s heart. And anyone who harms a child, is inviting God’s anger, God’s wrath upon themselves,” he stated.


To parents, aunties, uncles, brothers and sister, Talamoni said, “harsh, unloving discipline will alienate your children’s mind’s from you. And your corrections, your instructions will be useless. And perhaps one of the most terrible things that might happen, your children might alienate themselves from God.


“...we must find the balance of disciplining and teaching our sometimes rebellious children, the right way. What is that right way? Keep talking to the children, help them, give them advice and urge them to go the right direction,” he noted.