Stop hitting your children, say experts

ISLAMABAD: Child experts said, on Tuesday, that physical punishment, including spanking, hitting, and other means of causing physical or mental pain, can lead to increased aggression, physical injury and mental health problems for children.

Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) Secretary General Dr Qaiser Sajjad, talking to a private news channel, suggested that people need to stop hitting their kids if they want to discipline them effectively.

Corporal punishment in the home (also called physical punishment) refers to an act by a parent or other legal guardian causing deliberate physical pain or discomfort to a minor child in response to some undesired behaviour.

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Danish Mehmood, a child developmental psychologist, also warned parents that physical punishment is a serious public health problem throughout the world.

It has become common practice to see most parents hit their children on the ‘face’ or the ‘head’ when angry, but small hits to the head and face could effectively disable children, Mehmood noted.

“Our goal should be to promote a safe, healthy and non-violent environment for everyone,” he added.

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According to Mehmood, spanking a child may seem helpful in the short term, but is ineffective and probably harmful in the long term.

“The child who is often spanked learns that physical force is an acceptable method of problem solving.”

He also said that the media should come forward and be strong partners against this social bias.

“Parents have come to realise that children can be well behaved, cooperative, and polite without ever having been punished physically,” Mehmood suggested.

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Religious scholars have backed the suggestions of the scientific community.

“Islamic teachings are very particular in this regard, and ensure children are nurtured in the most wholesome manner and that negative behaviour is not allowed to ferment in an unregulated environment, but rather corrected under the watchful eye of parents,” a cleric said while to the media.

“At the same time, parents do not have the right to trespass the clear bounds under the pretext of disciplining their child,” he remarked.

The religious scholar noted that one of the restrictions which the Holy Prophet (PBUH) clearly put in place was to forbid hitting a minor on his/her face.

“In fact, a closer look at the sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in this regard demonstrates that this is not something exclusively for children, but rather applies for all human beings, and even animals.”

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