Some thoughts on Child Abuse

by Javed Ahmad

Any kind of "abuse" is bad. And trying to justify it is even worse. Situations and circumstances are now demanding the we need clarify "parental rights" in bringing up their kids.

Indeed, bringing up the young citizens is one of the most crucial matters of our life. In a civilized society bringing up kids is not a responsibility of the parents alone. A "kid" has different "guardians" at different levels of the society. The first and the foremost are the parents themselves. The second level of "guardians" are the other elderly members of the family, like uncles, aunts, grand parents, etc. And the third level of "guardians" are the "school teachers" at different stages. It is a combined effort, and they are all responsible in this process of training.

Use of physical discipline is a matter of controversy to some. However, I believe, anyone who thinks of "physical abuse" as a means of training, is someone who is likely to be questioned on their "qualifications". Unfortunately, we do not have any rules and regulations on "Parenthood". Anyone can become a parent just by giving a child birth. But it wouldn't mean that the parent is a qualified one ! In fact, most of the problems with kids arises due to failed parenthood. Some parents are just not capable to raise kids. They do not have the proper financial preparation, or education, or experience to raise a child. Similarly, many of the school teachers also do not have the needed patience, training, and or knowledge to carry out their duties responsibly. Indiscipline breeds indiscipline. If the parents are not disciplined themselves, how can they teach discipline to their children ?

A child is very vulnerable and prone to its surroundings. They begin learning just by looking, listening and watching others. And they learn things blindly without being judgemental. The sense of judgement is something which is pointed out by the "parents" or "guardians" around them. This is where the learning and understanding of differences between "right and wrong" comes into play. The so called "common sense" is the knowledge of "rationality". To teach a child about common sense, the parents needs to pay plenty of attention and time. And they need to be in sound mind themselves.

It has been observed that in most cases, parents tend to be abusive to their children only at the time of their failure to control their children by other means. And often times, it has also been noted that the child was merely was too stubborn or demanding from his/her point of inquisition. A child is innocent, with an open and free mind. Things need to be explained to them politely, nicely, sometimes trickily. But, many parents and teachers ask what if none of these methods work ? We beat them just because we couldn't tame them in any other way ? Well, the answer is, just "ignore" them. Let them understand that they will not get attention until they pay attention and cooperate. But still, one must avoid beating.

Police and the Social Workers, as well as the neighbors, are operating under this same belief. They all view beatings or physical abuse of any kind as cruelty, mean and unacceptable. In fact, we should be thankful to them for being around to save and rescue the kids who falls victim of abusive parents with mental illness, alcoholism, or drug abuse. If a child misbehave, it is mainly due to parents ignorance, and over looking on matters on which they should have kept an eye on. It is more than a full time job to raise a child. They need constant care and attention. They need some one next to them all the time to tell them right from wrong, and also explain to them "why" so. This is how they will develop an idea of "common sense" and "judgement". And fortunately, this learning doesn't stop at any time in age. But, as per psychologists, whatever we learn up to age 14 usually creates a "base" of character of an individual. Therefore, the age range from 1 to 14 is definitely a crucial one, and needs to be dealt with carefully. Any error will create a permanent scar on the personality or character of that person.

Emotional bondings are linked to physical feelings. When a parent hugs or embraces his or her child with affection and love, or show some sort of happiness and love; childs mental condition elevates which in turns increases childs interests in whatever he or she is appreciated for, and feels encouragement to do the same.

And on the other hand, when they are beaten or physically abused, a negative sentiment develops in their mind, which in turns creates anger, grief, and fear; crippling the poor soul. Eventually, if it continues for long, the child may develop indecisiveness in character. They will lack confidence, will appear to be depressed all the time.

The "Time" magazine of January 1998 ran an article called, "Is this a Camp or Jail ?" Where violation of kids rights is brought to question. It must be understood that kids at different age level behave differently. A time might come when a parent may not be able to control the kid anymore. In those situations what should we do ? Normally, after 14 years of age, it is difficult to manage and control a child if the child is not controlled by then. Probably, in these situations, sending the kids to a "correction centre" or "attitude rehab" may turn out to be helpful and beneficial for both the kids and their parents. If we can send the adults to rehab centers then why not the disobedient kids ? But, we must understand that kids are kids, they need to be treated differently than the adults. The government (State or Federal) must have a policy to oversee the administration and policies of such institutions to make sure they do not transgress any limits. Many countries has institutions called "Cadet Colleges" where parents send their kids (usually when they are at their 7th grades) to those institutions for education and preparation for life. These institutions are military styled schools where they force all students to go through vigorous training both physical and mental. And the results appear to be remarkable. Students coming out from these institutions appears to be very competent and full of confidence. They are usually well mannered, tactful, smart, and intelligent compared to the students graduating from regular schools. And higher percentage of these students becomes quite successful in their pursuit and endeavors in life. They earn respect among friends and family, as well as the society as a whole. These schools believes, "Discipline is the key to success". And that is exactly what they try to teach them and show them. Of course, these schools are usually very expensive, also very competitive. But a great alternative to bring up a child.

In conclusion, I would like to reinforce my earlier opinion on disagreement of Child Abuse in the name of "discipline". Parenting is a difficult task. It is a long term commitment, not only to themselves, but also to their kids and the society. One should not think of becoming a parent until he/she really feel ready for it. This is no joke. No parents want to see their "flesh and blood" go spoiled. We must not in any way encourage single parenthood, teen-parenthood. As these situations brings misery into childs life. A child growing up in misery will turn out to be a menace of the society. It is very important to have a "family" with known and recognized biological connections for a child to be sane and healthy. Family allows this effort to be operated jointly with share, care, and full support. It is like a tree with a strong root, with branches spread over as protection and support. Trying to deny or ignore these basic concepts is just like trying to deny our own existence.

The End.