Singapore father jailed for "relentless and extreme" violence towards his child
Is smacking ever a good way to discipline children?
In Asian culture, physical punishment is considered an effective method of disciplining children. But one parent in Singapore may have taken the method one step too far, which prompts the question “should parents hit their child?”
When a boy made some mistakes in his homework, the 35-year-old father reportedly held the child upside down by his leg and hit the child with a clothes hanger many times.
The father was sentenced to four months’ jail on December 6 2018 after he pleaded guilty in June of ill-treating the child. The parent remains anonymous in order to protect the son’s identity.
District Judge Eddy Tham said in his pre-sentence verdict that the father’s violent actions were “relentless and extreme” and the sentence was intended as a message to deter others from following suit.
This is the latest incident of physical punishment on children by parents and implies further investigation is needed into the increasingly controversial idea that asks should parents hit their child in order to teach them right from wrong?
The subject is still in debate around the world across different cultures. Over 51 countries have banned “corporal punishment“. This is defined as “spanking, hitting, and caning” your child.
Research by The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) in the UK indicates that corporal punishment negatively impacts children’s mental health.
- Children learn to be violent and aggressive by copying the smacking
- Unable to learn self-control
- Children show contempt as a result of being smacked
- At risk of becoming anti-social
- It develops poor self-esteem. (They learn to fear punishment, rather than try to understand why they should follow rules.)
- It leaves psychological marks, leading to mental illnesses such as depression, bulimia, personality disorders and intellectual disabilities
- Corporal punishment may cause childhood anxiety (could extend into adulthood).
- It sends the message that it’s okay to hit others.
Clearly, the research base shows that corporal punishment has counter-productive results. Even if we experienced being smacked as children, there are alternatives on disciplining our kids.
The evidence of poorer mental health and development is the primary reason to avoid considering should parents hit their child. Consider these verbal and non-physical alternatives for a healthier approach to teaching appropriate behaviour.
- Use positive strategies to manage behaviour.
- Negative consequences work best for children over three. (Younger kids cannot see the connection between their actions and the consequences.)
- Have clear family rules to help manage expectations. (Younger kids need your help to remind them of the rules.)
- Avoid challenging behaviour by planning ahead (e.g. if you know that they tend to misbehave in the supermarket, have them sit in the trolley and give them something interesting to do).
- Manage your frustration, stress and anger (if all else fails, take a deep breath and count to 10 before you act on impulse).
- Take away their privilege to something (e.g. watching the television while having dinner, no playing with friends at the playground, etc).
- Time-out (remove them from the situation; give them time away to reflect on their actions).