Hitting children is wrong – plain and simple

Hitting children is wrong – plain and simple
By Zan Azlee

There were several parents who came to the defence of the volleyball coach who was caught on video slapping two teenage girls. I find that disgusting.

Maybe people say that parenting styles are the prerogative of the parents, and I agree to a certain extent, but it stops at physical abuse. The coach isn’t even a parent to the girls.

I have never hit my children nor have my parents ever hit me. My children are far from being brats (except my three-year-old son, but he’s just a monster and not a brat!) and so am I.

So, we are clear proof that there is no truth in the saying ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’. In fact, conversations and rational discussion is the best form of discipline.

Spanking or hitting children is the laziest form of parenting. If the child misbehaves, then we just hit him or her with the intention of informing that it is the wrong behaviour. What will the child learn? That if he or she behaves a particular way, parents will hit them. So, the conclusion is, don’t behave that way in front of the parents.

These are kids who will misbehave behind the backs of their parents. Then we will have a whole generation of Malaysians who will turn into adults who will do any unscrupulous thing as long as they don’t get caught. Sounds familiar? It goes to show that parenting our children will have an effect on society.

As adults, we should never underestimate children. They are smarter and more capable of thinking than they appear. Talk to them, discuss and show them the consequences of their actions. They will understand. It takes a bit of patience when they are younger (a lot of patience!) but gets easier and enjoyable as they get older.

My wife and I can attest that it works for us (so far!). We have kids ranging from three to 12 years old. It is exactly as I have mentioned. I’m sure my parents can attest too. The relationship I have with my parents now is one where I feel safe and secure talking to them about anything. We have conversations all the time.

I have a sense of self-confidence and self-worth that I appreciate and this is all thanks to how my parents treated me growing up. This is something that I try hard to emulate and also give to my children. It’s hard sometimes and my wife and I do lose our patience with them (never to the point of hitting). But we always apologise and explain after that.

Right vs wrong

What the volleyball coach did, and how certain parents defended him by saying that what he did was not wrong, show how our Malaysian community does not understand the difference between right and wrong.

For one, it is not the way we educate children. This is just teaching them to be scared, feel insecure and hide their behaviour.

Secondly, how is it not wrong to hit? This is a grown man slapping teenage girls. Are we really saying that it is okay for these girls to be slapped? It doesn’t matter what the issue is, whether it is just over losing a volleyball game or anything else, a man should not be hitting a woman. Look, anyone hitting anyone else is not justified.

The reaction to this debacle is quite disappointing for me. When I was growing up, and even until today, my parents have always stressed that hitting is wrong. It doesn’t matter whether it is a parent hitting a child or adults hitting each other. How do we tell children it is wrong to hit if we hit them?

If we don’t speak to children in a rational and mature manner if there are issues, they will never be able to learn the right abilities to have proper civil discourse when they get older.

We need to break this culture of hitting children for the sake of our society. Unfortunately for the coach, he needs to be the first example to show that we cannot stand for this.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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