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In the initial years of life, a child’s world solely revolves around his parents or the primary caregivers. They serve as the key source for the provision of protection, safety and security, love and affection, furtherance, understanding, and support to a child. Parents try hard to guide their children towards the right path and they are mostly willing to go to any length to keep their children on track. They get passionate in making their kids disciplined and their intentions are in the best interest of the children. But it is a matter of common observation that humans perform various actions in life with extremely good intentions but still have to face negative outcomes.
Ms. Amna Nawaz currently works as a clinical psychologist at Willing Ways, Lahore. She has done MS in clinical psychology and B.Sc (Hons.) from GC University, Lahore. Heath counseling, addiction counseling, subjective well-being and intellectual disability are her areas of interest as well as her educational expertise.Earlier, she has also supervised trainee child psychologists working in a special education institute being run by the Government of Punjab.
Similarly, the same passion of the parents can sometime lead them towards mishandling their own beloved child. The most terrifying form of such mishandling is physically beating one’s own child with an intention of teaching him to be disciplined as a result of some wrongdoing or an offence, which is technically termed as ‘corporal punishment’. The purpose of this type of punishment is usually to prevent the child from repeating his wrongdoing in future by inducing or attaching fear with his undesirable acts.
Historically, there has been a huge global debate since centuries about whether parents can beat their own kids for the purpose of disciplining them, how to and how much to beat, and whether it is justified to beat the kids or not. Some countries have even banned physical violence on children even by their own parents and have established laws against it as well. Whereas, some countries and cultures still favor this method of disciplining one’s children. Being an authority and guiding figure, parents sometimes get carried away with their entitlement and consider it justified to beat a child if he commits any mistake; they get instant yet short-term compliance by the kids after being beaten; they attach a superior moral purpose with it and find it acceptable; and they also find it to be a quick fix to teach their innocent child a lesson. There are also various cultures where hitting, spanking, punching, caning, lashing, whipping, kicking or slapping one’s own child is a matter of common practice and used as a tool to discipline or punish a child for his wrongdoings.
Sometimes, the application of physical violence on children by their parents is not even considered as an abuse attaching parental good intentions with it. It doesn’t imply the fact that such parents are immoral by nature or the promoters of child abuse. It is just that the parents get stressed out to a breaking point and become reactive, they want instant results, they are unaware of other methods to discipline their children and do not have the patience to invest so much energies on learning new skills, and they are also conditioned to behave in this way due to the unconscious environmental or cultural learning. On contrary to the popular justifications in favor of beating one’s own kids, the field of psychology has identified its’ devastating long-term consequences on children’s well being in general.
Child’s psychological health is affected the most in the process of corporal punishment. Since parents are the lens through which a child sees himself, corporal punishment by parents usually conveys a message to their children that they are not worthy of kindness and deserve to be punished which adversely affects their self-esteem, it distorts child’s self-image and also his view of the world around. Several studies have suggested that children being beaten by their parents are four times more like to be unhappy in their childhood and also in their later lives.