Witty World

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spare the rod and save your children

THE UNICEF has called upon countries across the world to take steps to ensure that parents do not resort to physical violence in order to discipline their children.

Using the ‘Parent-Child Conflict Tactics Scale’, a Unicef study found that three out of four children experience some kind of violent discipline and psychological aggression while half experience some form of physical punishment.

The scale was used in India earlier by researchers, who found that shouting at children was the most common type of ‘disciplining’ by parents.

Harsher forms of psychological discipline such as name calling, cursing and threats were nearly twice as common in Egypt, India and the Philippines as in Brazil, Chile and the US.

In India, 70 to 95 per cent of the parents reported shouting at their children. In certain communities, children were frequently threatened that they would be abandoned or kicked out of the household.

Children are not only exposed to psychological and moderate verbal violence, the study found that moderate physical punishment was also common. The practice, however, varies across cultures. In Brazil and the US, for instance, spanking on the buttocks is common while in India parents are more likely to slap their children.

The report said another study found almost half the mothers in India’s rural areas reported using violent psychological discipline, while 42 per cent resorted to severe physical discipline.

In China, the disciplinary tactics ranged from psychological discipline imposed on 78 per cent of below- 14 children to minor physical punishment used on 23 per cent and severe physical punishment on 15 per cent children.

The “ risk factors” connected with corporal punishment included low education levels, household crowding, younger child age, husband’s alcohol abuse and spousal abuse.

Unicef child protection experts say violence inflicted upon children at home often tends to be hidden. Studies have shown that exposing a child to violent discipline has harmful consequences for the victim as well as the society.

Even mild forms of physical discipline are harmful to children, hindering their cognitive capacity and increasing the proclivity for future violent acts.

Violent psychological discipline — including ridicule, threats and intimidation — has been shown to have a range of negative behavioural impacts in childhood and beyond.

Citing the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the report states: “ It leaves no room for justification of violent or degrading forms of discipline. Governments need to enact laws to combat and prevent physical punishment/ violence on children according to the international child rights body.”


39% of children in India have been subjected to harsh physical discipline 81% have been subjected to harsh verbal and psychological discipline

96% children have been subjected to moderate verbal and psychological discipline

89% have been subjected to harsh physical discipline



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