Expert on bed-wetting battery case
Assault on 4-year-old highlights lack of understanding
INSTEAD of reacting violently when children bed-wet at an unusual age, parents must exercise care and caution because the child might be “unhappy” and have psychological problems, an expert has warned.
Dr Cathrin Venter, a
Port Shepstone-based child psychologist, said children normally gained bladder control at around 2 years old and bed-wetting at age 4 or older should raise an alarm.
Bed-wetting and bed-soiling involve the involuntary urination and passage of faeces respectively.
Venter was commenting in response to an attempted murder charge laid against a Phoenix mother and her boyfriend after the woman allegedly assaulted her 4-year-old child for soiling her clothing.
A video of the mother kicking and stomping on the distraught child, which is believed to have been filmed by the boyfriend, went viral.
This week, the couple, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the child, appeared in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court, which was packed with angry people.
Magistrate Chris Annamalai handled proceedings.
State prosecutor Ishara Sewnarain made an application to prevent the pair from making contact with the child while the matter was being handled by the court.
He is also awaiting a decision from the Children’s Court about the woman’s parenting ability.
Annamalai, who had granted the couple R3000 bail each, adjourned the matter to April 25.
The couple were arrested in February, when the video was circulated.
The boyfriend was seen goading the mother during the assault on the screaming child.
The mother shouted:
“Why can’t you listen? Why can’t you go to the toilet? The toilet is there. You were doing well all these days, you were doing extremely well, I was so proud… I want you out. I don’t want you inside this house. F*** off outside!”
Venter said it was traumatic for a child to be battered by someone she regarded as a protective figure in her life.
“This will cause a child to have trust issues, fears and lack of self-esteem in the long run.
“Children just want to be accepted, and they don’t try to act maliciously against their parents,” she said.
The video showed the Phoenix mother shouting: “You are making me go off my head! I am having a nervous breakdown.”
Venter said parents often felt like the victims of a naughty child.
“Parents think the child is being malicious and feel like the victim. They feel the child is a reflection of themselves and are embarrassed when the child makes a mistake,” she said.
“Get professional insight into what is happening in your child’s life because often, views on bed-wetting are distorted. Ultimately, a child is embarrassed as they do understand and are learning about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.”
Before the court session, the mother sat outside on a bench with her head bowed as some people sniggered when they passed her.
The woman wore jeans, a white T-shirt and takkies. She was shielded by an elderly man and woman. Her boyfriend, wearing a pair of brown trousers and a black shirt, sat a distance away with three others dressed in black.
The child has since been discharged from hospital and is in a place of safety, being monitored by the Department of Social Development.
Childline, an organisation dedicated to the protection of children, can be contacted at 0800 1111.