Stop Hurting Children

10 Jul

Again we hear of a child being abused by a person who was in loco parentis, The warden of a hostel, in charge of a child suffering and under medication for bedwetting, asks the young girl to lick the sheet. That is cruel, unthinking and damaging. How could this happen? What animal instinct believes that humiliation is a tool for learning?

This is not the first time that we have heard of cruel and humiliating punishments being used as an effort to change behaviour. In our country, both parents and teachers often believe that hurting a child is the way to emphasise a point. Sadly, that is true – it does emphasise – and thus the stakes are raised. This way one the cycle of violence and defiance can only spiral outwards and upwards, creating a culture of hurt and animalism. Doubtless, the teacher, warden or whoever is in the position of the parent grew up seeing and receiving violence and thus this level of cruelty has become part of their psyche. By hurting the child, the grand tradition of psychological damage is being passed down to the next generation.

The laws of the nation are supplemented by the efforts of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, who intervened when evidence of corporal punishment at Delhi’s schools was brought to light. Baby Falak’s plight was a result of abuse – though her circumstances were not those of an ordinary household. But many households and schools in India do not hesitate to use various degrees of abuse and trauma to hopefully-not-literally whip the child into shape. Into the shape they desire. As if that is the only right shape to be.

Hitting, hurting or humiliating a child can only teach the child that physical dominance is the prime means of persuasion. It does assume that the child has no cognitive skills – that the child can neither understand or be persuaded by reason. Violence is a negation of reason. Or the expectation of reason.

It has been proven many times over that positive reinforcement is a stronger tool than punishment. Yet it is a tool that is rarely seen in use in our parenting or teaching spheres, for its first requirement is that the adult remain in control of their temper. Using reason, explaining the situation and enabling a child to learn that their behaviour is a decision requires the adult to have patience. But before that it does require that the adult have the use of their reasoning faculties. Those who abuse are neither in control nor behaving with reason. They lead by poor example, and reinforce the law of the jungle – forget about having the patience or awareness to recognise and reward positive behaviour.

In teaching and learning good behaviours, various tools are recommended, and all of them ultimately lead to the child learning the skill of managing their own reaction and response. The objective of every disciplining exercise has to be the exercise of self discipline. Unless this value is incorporated in the early years of education, teachers and wardens will see their role as one that of disciplinarians. Which will keep us in this horrible and cruel world of mental and physical violence.

The onus to create a world where reason and self discipline come first falls on every adult. If you are an adult. If not, then know that the might and power of a violent future awaits you too.

Teachers and parents have to start using their brains, to learn the tools of reason, to learn and lead with self control to stop hurting children.

Just stop.



This post was published in the Times of India Blogs and can be accessed here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: