March 29, 2019: A seven-year-old faces extreme violence form his mother’s partner to which he succumbs.
April 29, 2019: A mother confesses to strangling to death her own 15-month-old baby.
These appalling events in Kerala, reinforce the fact that perpetrators of abuse are those in the victims' known circles - family and relatives. The very ones who should have led the children to a life of security and joy inflict irreparable atrocities on them. A recent report stated that around 40 cases of child abuse are filed every month with welfare agencies in Ernakulam district alone.
Physical punishment is considered merely a disciplinarian tool in our nation. It was only in early January this year the Kerala High Court ruled that teachers can impose reasonable punishment as part of disciplinary norms. As there is a lack of clarity on what infringes the scale of ‘reasonable' punishment, the observation of the cannot be followed verbatim. Studies have shown that corporal punishment in any form is not desirable.
Physical, verbal and mental abuse from any individual can be deeply scarring, no matter what the age of a child is. Violence faced at the hands of parents can be the most traumatic of all for children. Effects of abuse appear not only on their bodies, but also leave lasting wounds on their psyche which will reflect in their behaviour as they grow up.
Parents resort to hitting and spanking as it is the easiest way to silence a child. While extreme forms of violence can lead to substance abuse on mental instability among affected children, any kind of beating, however harmless it may be, is not desirable. Parenting involves a lot of efforts on the parents' part and physical punishment is not the right way. Parents citing work pressure as a reason behind violence towards kids are embodiment of injustice towards the little ones.
Children are not tabula rasa where you paint things onto their heads. The objective must be to inculcate natural reasoning in them and enable them to identify the rights and wrongs on their own. Children's action must not be prompted by the fear of punishments, rather, they must have a clear understanding of why it is not desirable to behave in a certain manner. Children who are always spanked are always in doubt as they are taught not to do a certain thing, but not why it should not be done.
Open up conversation
Parents should spent some time to explaining what is expected of their children. Conversations with parents and loved ones kindle a warm relationship between them, which can in turn boost the confidence of children. An open conversation also means that a child learns a lot and also parents will come to know about any unusual incidents, which the child comes across. children must have self-realisation that their relations with their parents are so strong that he or she should be able to tell anything and everything to them.
This can be easily achieved by investing time and patience on kids. Unfortunately, members in a family today find themselves spending lesser time with each other, especially if both mother and father are working. But every family member, irrespective of gender and age, must contribute towards the healthy development and safety of their child. The members can chalk out their plans to spend time with each other as it is extremely necessary. Even conversation during meal times, spending some time before the child goes to bed, doing activities together, engaging the child in simple chores of the house are ways by which parents and children engage with each other. Children will listen to their parents and become more responsible when they feel they are loved and wanted.
Adding to the woes
Corporal punishment is never the ultimate answer to the question of inculcating discipline in children. Rather, it only opens up further problems. Owing to the lack of confidence a child is left confused, feels low in self-esteem affecting his or her public conduct. Stage-fear, reluctance to meet people, stammering and so on are possible consequences. Another way their insecurity is manifested through is bullying. Children who are subject to spanking feel that those who are able to beat and hit are powerful.
Thus they often turn violent towards their peer and also become abusive towards their partner and kids as they grow older. A person's behaviour is shaped on the basis of their childhood experiences, the way they coped with undesirable situations and the amount of support they received as a child.
Support of family members, peers and community is thus very important in personality development. Community as a whole should be aware of the conditions of children, especially in those homes where violence in any form has been reported in the past. Perpetrators often take advantage of keeping family affairs within the four walls of the house. Any unusual sounds and sights in the neighbourhood must be reported to prevent further violence.