Children’s Authority urges end of licks as disciplinary tool

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE Children’s Authority wants parents and guardians to stop using corporal punishment as a form of discipline following the deaths of three children in the last two weeks.

In a media release on Saturday, the authority said its database showed physical abuse was the second highest type of child abuse administered by parents and guardians masked as a form of discipline.

“The authority notes that the deaths emphasise the need for families and society at large to challenge the traditional norms which influence the way children are cared for and treated and that parents, guardians, and child-care workers are reminded that corporal punishment is not an effective technique to discipline children

“Research shows that the use of corporal punishment can often lead to physical harm, sometimes causing serious damage, long-term disability or death; mental health issues, including behavioural and anxiety disorders, depression, hopelessness, low self-esteem, self-harm and suicide attempts, alcohol and drug dependency, hostility and emotional instability, which may often continue into adulthood.”

The authority said physical punishment does not teach children appropriate behaviour but rather sought to deter undesirable behaviour by instilling fear.

“Children secretly continue the undesirable behaviour when they do not fear being caught, in spite of the physical punishment. Physical punishment also perpetuates norms of using aggression and violence to solve problems.”

It urged parents, guardians and caregivers to utilise alternative means of discipline to reduce incidents of child physical abuse.

Some alternative disciplinary approaches included reinforcing boundaries and expectations of behaviour, rewarding good behaviours, administering consequences for undesirable actions immediately that are age and developmentally appropriate, discussing with the child the inappropriate behaviour that needed to be changed, using time-out or taking away privileges, avoid disciplining the child when angry and seek professional help. The authority reminded the public that child protection was everybody’s business and child abuse was a criminal offence.

It said the National Family Services Division under the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services was available to assist and can be reached at 623-2608 ext. 6701-6711 or the Authority at 996 or 800-2014.

Additionally, child abuse incidents should be reported to the TTPS at 999 or the authority’s hotline at 996 or 800-2014.

On Monday, three-year-old Maria Khan drowned in an inflatable pool at her Maharaj Trace, Gasparillo home. On March 30, seven-year-old Asaiah Josiah also drowned in a swimming pool at his grandparents’ home in Tableland.

Alliyah Kandice Alexander, 15, was found unresponsive at the foot of the stairs. Police reported that at about 4.10 pm on Tuesday, a nurse at the Couva Health Centre contacted Couva police saying a teenage girl was brought to the centre by a male relative and had died while being treated. The autopsy report revealed her death was due to blunt force trauma injuries.