Patutkah Kanak-Kanak Dibeduk?

Posted on February 11, 2007

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Continuing with our special focus on Sweden, a liberal Scandinavian nation with a strong social democratic background, we explore the contentious issue of corporal punishment of children. Apart from having an Ombudsman for Children, Sweden leads the world in child advocacy by being the first country to ban corporal punishment of children, in 1979. Although offenders are subject to prosecution, the country relies more heavily upon the pedagogic effect of the legislation, and has set in place a thorough education campaign and support services to minimise family stress and conflict.

In Malaysia, although the level of corporal punishment is not as severe as in the past, it is still considered normal and acceptable for parents to spank or cane their child. Many a parent have provided the oft-used excuse that they do it out of love, and ironically, we have heard many adults themselves saying the spanking they received in childhood moulded them into the fine, law-abiding citizens they are today. Could it be possible that they have turned out that way in spite of the tight slaps they received? Would other, less violent forms of discipline have failed them? We are not at all disputing the parents’ love for the child, but could it be possible that they struck at their kids mainly because they were physically capable, and that it was socially appropriate to do so?

We, too, were subject to corporal punishment as children, and although we acknowledge that this method of guidance may have been acceptable in the 20th century, we strongly believe that in the present, and more so in the future, corporal punishment is an outmoded form of discipline. Caning and other forms of physically-intrusive discipline are increasingly being viewed, by parents and educationists alike, as archaic, ineffective and abusive. As the traditional Asian family dynamic of strict, tough-love give way to a more collaborative form of parenting, adults are finding that it is much more effective, humane and even normal to guide a child by engaging in, among others, age-appropriate conflict resolution and mediation skills. Verbal parent-child interactions not only enhance a strong, trusting bond between the two, it also develop a child’s cognitive ability.

Suffice to say, these skills need to be properly learned and cultivated in parents, as they require a strong level of emotional and intellectual maturity to be properly implemented. Parents and school authorities who continue to spank and slap their child at this day and age, are taking the easy way out, and in the long run their actions are more likely to damage the child’s development and the relationship between them and their child.

Posted in: Sweden