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Values & Education

To Beat Or Not To Beat A Child

A question which has always been a matter of concern for the parents is whether to beat or not to beat the child, to reform him. In olden days parents beat their children left and right. As children, the adults of my generation have faced harsh beating by the parents.


Those were the days when five or six(sometimes even more) children in a family was a norm. Mothers were generally not highly literate and had very little or no patience with the children. The saying, ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’, was an accepted norm at that time.

With the passage of time it was realised by experts that beating a child adversely affects his personality. According to a report issued by UNICEF, “hitting a child is NOT an effective method of parenting.” “Hitting, slapping, beating, ‘thumping’, pinching, or ‘boxing’ a child only reinforces violence. IT IS ABUSE.” The question arises how to correct the child if he/she is not amenable to any advice, soft words or explanation, that what he does is not correct. Sometimes children become aggressive and revolt. There are children who get used to the beating by their parents and just let it go.  It does not affect them. They merely laugh it off.

Recently a circular was issued to all educational Institutions that they must not resort to corporal punishment. The circular states that only the Head of the Institution is authorised to beat a child. The Head is authorised to give not more than three mild knocks on the head. A record of such beating is required to be maintained. The law also supports this method. The children are well aware of the law and take advantage of this order. They know that they cannot be beaten at home and school. I know a family where the children are mercilessly hit and spanked. The eldest child in the family is only eight years old. When he sees his siblings being  beaten, he warns his mother that if she again resorts to beating, he would inform the police. Even otherwise if we adopt beating to correct them, they become immune to beating. They stop bothering and are not afraid of physical abuse.

How should we discipline the children! The children, by nature are very active and many times resort to wrong behaviour. To make them obey we have to take some positive steps.

We must ourselves be cautious and not abuse or fight with our spouse. Children, acquire the same habits which they see in their parents.

You must always use decent language, if we want our children to be courteous and decent.

If the child does something wrong, we may segregate him from his friends and siblings. If he/she sits alone he/she will definitely ponder upon his/her action and is bound to feel sorry for their action.

Talk to your child as often as you can. Some parents, especially fathers do not speak to their children which creates a spirit of fear against the father. It depends on the parents to build a happy, harmonious and healthy atmosphere in the house, so that the children inherit good habits.

Usha Menon, a 77-years-old retired educationist, who has four sweet, adorable grandchildren. Last year she wrote a book,”Reverse Gear.” This book is a sort of analogy between her professional and personal life, depicting the travails, ups and downs faced by an average working woman. As a retired person, She is leading a contented life with a loving husband, devoted son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. Her doting daughter, son-in-law, and two grandsons, who are very affectionate, look after her and her husband. She is grateful to God that He has, in His grace, given her an opportunity to live a life of peaceful contentment.