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.

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