Spanking one's child is considered a god-given right in most Asian cultures. Many parents here don't think twice before slapping, pinching, or taking out the much feared "daddy's belt" to "discipline" their children. This abuse is so pervasive in our culture that even in schools many teachers resort to corporal punishment if a student is seen as falling behind in classes. Sometimes it is done in public too, to absolute humiliation the child.
Systematic abuse is passed off as disciplining the child.
However, in a majority of these cases, the physical abuse is not inflicted to discipline the child. It is done to take out the frustration of the adult. The child is merely a punching bag for stressed out adults who are angry at their bosses/spouses/the world. They are using someone under their authority as an easy target. Systematic abuse is passed off as disciplining the child. Be it for scoring less than 80% in an exam, for refusing to eat food, for breaking something in the house, or even getting injured (this happens in desi households!), children are getting beaten for the most insignificant things.
What are you teaching a child when you hit them for doing something wrong? You are teaching them that force is a legitimate option to overpower someone under your authority or physically inferior to you. You are teaching them that violence is an effective corrective measure. You are taking away from them the ability to resolve disagreements or scuffles amicably, with reason and compassion. And then you exclaim exasperatedly "Why is this generation so obsessed with violence?" Because you are teaching them that!
We are not okay with an adult hitting another adult when there is a disagreement. But we don't mind when an adult hits a child. Why is that?
I understand the urge to set things right with force. I must admit that there have been occasions when I've seen an extremely unruly child wreaking havoc everywhere, and wondered why the parents don't just "give him one". But that's the result of the cultural conditioning that perpetuates the belief that force is necessary for good behaviour, for better results.
We are not okay with an adult hitting another adult when there is a disagreement. But we don't mind when an adult hits a child. Why is that? In the former situation, the other adult at least has some power to retaliate. But the child is powerless. We are basically telling them, "You are small. You are insignificant. A person more powerful can and will use force to get the powerless to obey." How isolating it must feel when the person who is supposed to care for you the most is the one who scares you the most.
With each frustrated slap you mould an adult who believes "might is right".
Don't get me wrong, I'm not promoting a world where kids run helter-skelter without any discipline or supervision of adults. I am simply saying do not hit a small child. The physical bruises of your blows may fade away, but the wound it inflicts on the mind and soul of that child is never going to heal completely. It will manifest either as insecurity and low self-esteem as an adult or in another abuse cycle in other relationships. You are creating bullies and domestic abusers.
With each child you hit, you are creating an adult with less empathy and patience, a lower threshold, greater intolerance. With each frustrated slap you mould an adult who believes "might is right". And when entire communities do this, we are left with a society that gives too much power to its authorities to suppress the weak and powerless. Don't go looking for compassion then, there won't be any left.
This post originally appeared here.
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