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 Blooming Stars

Child Rearing

             Controversial News related to the conviction of an Indian couple living and working in Oslo, Norway, and consequent sentence of jail terms for father and mother for 18 and 15 months respectively has exploded in the Indian horizon yesterday (December 4, 2012). The news as I culled from different newspapers related to parents physically and emotionally punishing their 7-year old son after he urinated or wetted his pants in the school bus. The child is also reported to have behavior problems. Without a comprehensive evaluation report, the child abuse and the extent of its severity cannot be determined. From the sketchy reports it is not clear whether the child intentionally urinated in the bus or accidentally wetted his pants, whether he has bladder control problem or some kind of Oppositional Defiant Disorder or, for that matter, he simply could not control his urge to urinate as he did not plan for the bus ride young as he was. The stress related to the whole family being transplanted from India to Norway could have been enormous. It could have been considerably worse for a child of such tender age with little coping skills.

            The scenario of the child having emotional or behavioral acting out problems are not rare as I came across these situations while working in a children's psychiatric hospital, and in private practice as a Clinical Psychologist. I directed/co-ordinate a Cooperative Day Treatment Program (CDTP) jointly sponsored by the Missouri Department of Mental Health and the St. Louis Special School District in the USA. The Cooperative Treatment Program operated from a well-known Children's Psychiatric Hospital was for children with severe emotional and behavior problems, and could not function in regular schools. From the news reports of the child in question I might conclude that the child might have an adjustment disorder or a mild emotional and/or behavioral problem.

            While we can have hind-sight 20-20, we need to be very careful in our comments about the Oslo situation. It is good that the Government of India did not get involved in this situation. There are definitely clashes of cultures. But abuse is abuse wherever it occurs. While the West is pushing the envelope, the East is lagging far behind with regard to necessary legislations in the sphere of human rights violations. Parents need be taught about child-rearing and parenting skills, physical and emotional abuse and neglect. Many parents all over the world believe that they can punish their child as if children do not have any rights, or as if children are their property. I remember when I was in St. Louis, USA, a mother told me in connection with a child of hers with severe behavior problems: "I brought him into the world, and I will take him out (kill) if I need to". I was shocked even though she was in extreme stress and frustration at that time. I was also surprised when a member of our Ashram teaching in a school nearby told me a few days ago that teachers come to classes with sticks for compliance.

            Corporal punishment should be outlawed from all settings. We need to be very careful in not engaging in any kind of verbal and emotional abuse. The world in varying degrees coming out of a culture of feudal, authoritarian and autocratic structures and gross discriminations of all sorts. Often we are not even aware of subtle prejudices, discriminations, and abuses. Children belong to this great cosmos. They have been entrusted to us for some years (18?) before they are formed and considered to be majors or adults like ourselves. They are not our possessions to be treated and used and abused any which way. They are the best gifts God/Cosmic Force has given us. They need to be cherished, loved, and respected. They are very fragile, and handled with extreme care. They can give us immense joy. And as the great writer Kahlil Gibran said we need to give our children roots and wings: wings so they can soar high and go wherever they want, roots so they can come back and get refreshed for their further adventure. All this can happen only in a climate of unconditional love and acceptance.

 

     
 
 
 
 
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