Term Paper on Child

Harming a child constantly may leave deep scars that in the long run will make that child repeat the scenes and becoming from a boy or girl trying to bully his/her peers to a man that may commit a crime and get killed.

The intent of this position paper is to present some arguments and some evidence against discipline methods such as psychological and physical abuse utilized by some parents and the effects that this type of punishment produces on children.

In addition, it will be provided some references outlining what the child protection law considers as psychological and physical abuse to support the negative aspect of abuse practiced on children. Also, it will be included some information on the effects (aggressiveness and violence) and how there are escalating in the affected children’s lives from childhood to adulthood. At the end, it will be mentioned some alternative methods that parents should have.

The use of punishment methods such as psychological and physical threats, as a way to discipline children at home, produces aggressiveness and violence in these young people. Non-violent methods are a more effective way of training.

The area of discipline used as punishment has been an extremely controversial issue among parents and those who make the laws of child protection in Alberta in the last few years. There are many parents who still believe in harsh punishment hitting or using objects to strike children. Lately, a case of physical abuse was taken to the BC courts involving a man who was incarcerated for using a wooden dowel to punish his children. He argued that he had all the rights to discipline his children being their biological father and he replied, “The rod will remain integral to the discipline regime” (Tanner, 2002).

Advocates against to this type of abuse recognize that discipline through these punishment methods does not work. It may stop unacceptable behaviours momentarily but in the long-term can produce aggressiveness and violence towards others. Parents could avoid this kind of punishment if they learned to control their emotions. Parents use harsh methods of discipline when anger escalates until the point that they injure their children and use verbal intimidation. Certainly, physical abuse often is accompanied by psychological threats such as verbal and non-verbal abuse that humiliates children in private and in public, provides criticism, intimidates with facial expressions and body posture, and sometimes involves the use of coercion. Kindlon and Thompson (1999) described the anger of a mother of a four year-old boy that was driving home from preschool. She said “for some reason he was talking very loud” I asked him to be quite and he got worst” yelled at him to stop “but he ignored me “finally, I leaned over and smacked him” (page 62)

The woman in the previous example, would also harm children emotionally by using verbal abuse such УyouТre an awful child” or “I hate you” or “I curse the day you were born”, which for a young child to hear is terrible! These types of comments or verbal “put -downs” only would increase the children’s low sense of worth. The effects are devastating. Children present signs of anger, anxiety, withdrawal, depression, sadness, confusion, and, in extreme cases, developmental delays.

The child protection legislation in Alberta recognizes that every family has the obligation to care for, nurture and provide all the basic needs to children. Children’s Services in Alberta will only intervene when children need to be protected from being emotionally and physical abused. The Child Welfare Act in one of its articles on child abuse states that: “A child is physically injured if there is substantial and observable injury to any part of the child’s body as a result of the non-accidental application of force o an agent to the child’s body that is evidenced by a laceration, a contusion, an abrasion, a scar, a fracture or other bony injury, a dislocation, a sprain, haemorrhaging, the rupture of viscous, a burn, a scald, frostbite, the loss of alteration of consciousness or physiological functioning or the loss of hair or teeth. (Page 7)

Child abuse is often not noticeable as a mark to be seen after being abused. When that happens, parents may also keep the children at home until those injuries have healed. Children may expose some behavioural manifestations such as wetting the bed, fear of returning home, and develop withdrawal and hyperactivity. Caregivers, teachers, and others must observe behaviours of children, and instead of judging the child for that behaviour, they need to relate the behaviour with abuse. In fact, many of these teachers and caregivers report abuse when they suspect that is what is happening.

With respect to psychological abuse, the Child Welfare Act of the Province of Alberta (1996) declared that a child is emotionally injured if he/she shows impairment in his/her mental faculties (p. 6). In order to apply the law, according to what the child welfare act considers to be a psychological injury, the system has to prove through different psychological tests that the condition of the child is a result of abuse. So many cases of psychological abuse are ignored in courtrooms because the lack of proof.

The consequences of these children being psychologically abused often appear in his/her teenage years and young adulthood. They may face issues of alcohol and drug abuse, low self-esteem, and become followers of other peers or controllers; therefore, they may face insecurity in making the right choices in their lives. That could raise suicidal feelings, especially in boys. Kindlon and Thompson (1999) showed through their research that in the United States there is a rate of 1,890 suicides among fifteen to nineteen year-olds. From that number, 85 % were boys (Page 170). Gender may reflect in statistical information that boys are more likely to commit suicide than girls. Females, even though, they suffer psychological abuse are less likely to commit suicide due to the way womenТs nature tends to be more communicative than boys. The suppression of anger in boys is greater than in girls. Boys rarely express their feelings of anger.

Harsh punishment produces consequences of aggressive behaviour and, those treated in this way as adults may develop acts of aggression and violence against society. “Aggressiveness is a personality characteristic, a latent tendency to behave more belligerently than most people. Aggressive individuals perceive people and situations as evoking aggression and habitually react in an aggressive manner” (Angenent & de Man, 1993, p. 105).

Furthermore, it is important to point out that parents are able to control children’s behaviour with psychological and physical punishment when their children are young; however, when these children reach a certain age, parents have no more control over them. As a result, children often retaliate against their own parents. Besides, they may counterattack threatening others and getting involved in quarrels and fights. Most importantly, these young adults are likely to get involved in acts of delinquency such as “breaking and entering, shoplifting, purse snatching, joy riding, theft of bicycles and car radios, and theft from vending machines and parking meters”(p. 109). That is not all, as adults, these individuals may break the law being constantly in jails, use drugs and abuse alcohol; they may initiate domestic violence and other criminal activities. There is no doubt that psychological and physical abuse perpetuated by parents is the most damaging and inhumane method of correcting childrenТs behaviour.

The following recommendations have the potential to offer some positive suggestions to nurture and protect the emotional life of their children: Most parents love their children and would not intentionally hurt them. Instead, parents need to educate themselves or ask for help to apply discipline methods that will benefit children. These methods include warnings, withholding privileges, rewards and time outs. Moreover, parents that have problems to control anger and use it against their children may need some counselling or they may need to attend some courses such as anger management, dealing with the past and parenting.

In conclusion, psychological and physical abuse may teach children to use the same patterns in their lives and create a cycle of violence that can be repeated generation-by-generation making this society more violent. In order to break these patterns, whoever is parenting children needs to learn new ways of disciplining using positive methods that will teach them to grow up, to be adults, and to control their own behaviour.


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