All parents have had times when they lose their temper and punish their children to correct their behavior. Lack of patience is common when dealing with infants, children and adolescents, but some reactions from adults can be detrimental to the physical and mental health of their children. Child abuse can also impact their personality development and choices later in life. While corporal punishment remains a serious issue that needs to be addressed, there are also other forms of parental misconduct that can be just as harmful to a child. In this article, we try to dive into the different types of parental abuse that are common in Kashmir.
The most notable form of punishment for children is hitting. Hitting, slapping, hitting with an object, shaking, twisting arms, pulling hair, dragging, kicking, pinching, restraining, locking in a room, tying up, pushing, punching, isolating oneself to inside/outside any location, giving up in dangerous situations, force feeding and choking are all forms of physical abuse. Physical punishment of children may be considered “acceptable violence,” but it is still a form of violence, no matter what we call it.
Violence is an act done with the intent or an act perceived as having the intent to physically harm another person. It includes all the things mentioned above which we see very commonly in Kashmir. Corporal punishment is generally not considered violence because parents believe it is permissible and within their rights to do so. Article 19 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states that “No violence against children is justifiable”. Adult justification of violence against children, whether accepted as a tradition or disguised as discipline, must end. It is important to call this behavior of parents and teachers for what it is. This is called physical abuse/violence against children.
Verbal abuse is another type of abuse that involves verbal interaction that causes emotional harm to the child/adolescent, often making them wonder who they are. Bullying a child or adolescent by swearing/cursing, using threatening language, yelling, yelling, constant criticism that is not constructive, name-calling, mocking responses, insulting their feelings, devaluing their opinions, argumentative engagement such as frequent interruptions, talking above them, blaming children for anything wrong, humiliating them in public, withholding important information in a conversation are all signs of verbal abuse. It is a way for one person to control and maintain their power over another person. Although many of us may have done these things in the past, it is important to realize that these behaviors are dangerous and harmful.
Psychological abuse is another type of abuse that involves the emotional abuse of a child. It can be hard to identify, but that doesn’t make it any less real. This includes humiliating the child, not recognizing their individuality, and blaming them for anything that goes wrong. Pushing a child too hard, not recognizing their limits, constantly ignoring them and their needs, being physically or emotionally absent, belittling their personality, dreams and accomplishments in private or in front of others, nitpicking, questioning every move, teasing and sarcasm are all signs of emotional neglect/abuse.
Induce guilt in children by pretending to be the most important person in their lives, maintaining unrealistic and unreachable standards for children, which causes insecurity, shame and inferiority if not not achieved is also considered emotional abuse. Constantly reminding him of his shortcomings and failures to motivate him is detrimental to the well-being of the child and has not been shown to benefit him. Insulting friends and people close to the child or adolescent to convince them that these people are unimportant makes the child alienated. Additionally, alienation can also be caused by generating fear or withholding love, attention, food, and things. A threat of rejection creates a lasting impact on a child’s development and adulthood.
Other types of emotional abuse from parents involve getting upset over trivial matters that shock children and force them to conform and shut up. Throwing their own problems at children as a way to vent, punishing them with intense staring, intentionally lying about the past to make the child doubt their own memory, perception and sanity, instilling fear in the child the worst results that arouse anxiety from a young age. When confronted, these parents twist the narrative to blame the child and when all else fails, they victimize themselves to control the behavior. These may seem like extreme examples of abusive parenting, but they are very common and need to be considered. If you notice these traits in yourself or a parent you know, some children may be hurting and needing help.
Financial abuse is a lesser-known type of parental abuse. If a parent prevents their child from earning money or receiving an education, places a child on strict allowance with impossible expectations, thereby exposing the child to failure, cheating or exploiting the child financially, these are signs financial exploitation. Abuse can also involve any attempt to exert power and control over someone using faith or other beliefs. If a parent engages in criminal misconduct or covers up the transgressions of others such as religious healers in the name of their religion, covering sexual abuse, physical abuse, financial crimes of religious healers, it can have serious consequences on the well-being of the child. It also includes inducing dichotomous thinking at home; divide people into two camps – those who agree with the parent and those who disagree. It also includes distancing from extended family members and friends who have different beliefs. This includes avoidance, alienation and segregation.
Expecting blind obedience and conformity from children to the parents’ worldview is an indication of abuse of parental authority. These things mentioned above can be called negative childhood experiences (ACEs) and many studies have linked these experiences to chronic physical and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, cancer, diabetes, asthma and other problems that may develop later. in life as a result of negative childhood experiences at a young age. It can also impact education, employment, and earning potential later in life.
We might want to believe that we live in an ideal society where these things don’t happen. We warn children about the dangers of strangers, but very often the dangers lurk inside homes. Children are often shaped to meet societal/parental expectations. This happens at the expense of the child’s authentic spirit or full potential. This results in the smothering of the child and the creation of an incongruous false sense of self.
We can begin to reconcile by recognizing a fundamental truth: there is no “parental right” to treat children unfairly on their own whims. Humans, which include both parents and children, have rights. And all human beings, including children, have the right not to be hit. They have the right to a dignified life where their individuality is respected. If you think you are experiencing any of the things mentioned above, or someone you know, it is best to contact a mental health expert as it can be difficult to deal with these things on your own.
Médecins Sans Frontières offers free and confidential mental health advice to people of all ages. We have counseling centers in Srinagar, Baramula, Sopore, Pulwama, Shopian and Tral.
Our toll free number is 1800 572 0407
The author is a psychologist, counselor and educator at Doctors Without Borders. Email: [email protected])