26 Feb 2015

Don’t mistake caning for discipline, NGO cautions

KUALA LUMPUR: An NGO has said that public caning is not to be equated with discipline as the former is more likely to exacerbate delinquent behaviour in children instead of nipping it in the bud.

Speaking to FMT, the founder and chairman of Social Care Foundation, Robert Phang said that over 20 years of research showed that caning did nothing in modifying undesirable behaviour.

“Research indicates caning is linked to increased aggression, delinquency, mental health problems and a breakdown in parent-child relationships,” Phang said.

He also cited the 2013 study by Elizabeth Gershoff, a developmental psychologist at the University of Texas, that confirmed that children who were caned were more likely to develop depression, anxiety, drug use, and aggression when they were older.

“On the other hand, discipline involves teaching our kids to manage their emotions and desires. It might take extra work but it yields positive, long-term results.

“If parents and school authorities weren’t so quick to pick up the cane, they would see how setting age-appropriate expectations and boundaries, coupled with a fair degree of empathy, could turn even the naughtiest child around,”

Phang explained. He also placed special emphasis on counselling, considering it an integral part in behavioural modification in problem children.

“Counselling is mandatory. We are a society that does not talk enough to each other. We are too consumed by work, children are too consumed with the Internet. We have become loners. Part and parcel of disciplining students means talking to them – getting to know them on their terms and sharing a bit of ourselves with them as well,” he explained.

He said caning on the other hand, only taught children that aggression equalled control. Caning also did nothing in “teaching” children how to modify their behaviour.

“Whether we like to admit it or not, caning robs children of the ability to take responsibility for their actions. Sure, they learn if they did something bad, they’d be canned. So they refrain from repeating a bad behaviour out of fear of pain and humiliation.

They change not because they sincerely want to or understand the need to, they change because they absolutely have to,” he said, adding that caning also taught kids that violence was effective in solving problems.

Phang was also against caning because children had the tendency to do what they saw others do rather than do what they were told to do.

“Any parent knows from experience that kids do what you do. If you cane them, they are more likely to use that same aggression and violence on others when a tension-filled situation arises,” he said.

Phang made these statements in light of the move by the government to amend the Child Act, 2001 where among the proposed amendments is the doing away of caning in schools. The Bill will be introduced in Parliament in July.

Source : http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2015/02/26/dont-mistake-caning-for-discipline-ngo-cautions/

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