Our children’s future
AFTER the launch of a campaign against child abuse and neglect was over, I complimented one father whose seven-year-old girl had participated in the event. We discussed corporal punishment in primary schools.
The father told me that he had spoken to his children’s teachers and given them permission to punish his children when they misbehave. Sad to say, this is exactly why we need a campaign against child abuse and neglect.
We need everyone to understand children and know how to provide for their physical, emotional and developmental needs. There is no greater task for a parent or a caregiver than to ensure the safety of their children, and to offer them guidance and protection.
Child abuse is not someone else’s problem. It belongs to everyone. Just because our children are not hurt or neglected does not mean we are exempted from putting a stop to child abuse. Every member of our society should be involved. Every child in our community should be our responsibility.
As long as there are people out there who believe that children need to be disciplined by the cane for them to learn the proper way, then our children are not safe.
Most adults feel infuriated when they hear children whine or throw a tantrum. They instinctively want to stop such behaviour as quickly as possible. An occasional spanking on the behind and a smack to stop the fussing may work from time to time. However, the more a parent uses physical force to end the child’s misbehaviour, the more difficult the child becomes.
Many of our country’s child abuse cases go unreported and children suffer in silence. In 2008, it was reported that every day, an average of seven children in Malaysia were victims of abuse and neglect.
What can we do about this problem? For starters, we must look at children with the right attitude. Many still hold the negative perception that naughty children should be disciplined by force.
Adults need to understand how children learn and develop. Children can learn to manage their behaviour. Children have needs that require parents to provide for them.
Many parents assume that children will only behave better when they are fearful. They want their children to be under their control. One mother said of her five-year-old: “Oh, he usually quietens down when I take out the cane.”
Parents do not plan to hurt their children. Sometimes when things get rough at home, parents are stressed and find themselves unable to deal with a screaming toddler. They have been ill-advised that children who have tasted the cane will be more obedient and easier to manage.
Contrary to this belief, aggressive parents often raise aggressive children. We need to change the way we handle children if we want positive results. When adults make time to listen and pay attention to their children’s needs, they will find that their children displaying more positive behaviours.
Before parents go about managing their children’s behaviour, they have to do some self-evaluation. Know yourself and what makes you upset. Does it bother you if your child refuses to eat vegetables and only takes fruits instead? Why do you get angry at your child when he refuses to listen to you? Direct the questions to yourself first before you point the finger at your child.
A negative situation can be turned around when adults use more of: “I understand that you are ...” Speak directly to children and look them in the eyes. Children become more attentive when they know adults are concerned about them. Stay firm, maintain direct contact and tell your child that what he has done is not acceptable. More importantly, show him what he can do that is right.
We can do so much more as parents when we opt for the no-spanking policy. We can even share this with our friends and relatives. Tell everyone that children are people, too! They deserve our respect; even when they do wrong, we can help them to change.
Children need us to see and listen to them as they are. Why? Because one day, they will become adults and they will do the same to their young ones. n Log on to www.uniteagainstabue.my for more information and to participate in creating a better future for our children.