Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 27th 2014 Contents A6
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt April 27, 2014
CHARLES KONG SOO
Secretary of the Association of Psychi-
atrists of T&T (APTT) Dr Varma Deyals-
ingh says T&T can find a middle ground
in legislation to outlaw corporal punish-
ment against children in homes.
He was responding to Prime Minister
Kamla Persad-Bissessar s statement on
Wednesday that she would look at legislation
to protect children in homes.
This followed the release of a video on
Facebook of a mother repeatedly beating
her daughter with a belt, while using obscene
language, over her inappropriate postings
on social media that has gone viral.
Deyalsingh said, "We need to know if
corporal punishment should be outlawed
or if we can come up with a middle ground
such as the Canadian system which allows
some leeway in parents disciplining their
"The Canadian model has stipulations
allowing spanking for children older than
two years and younger than 12 years, but
without devices such as belts, whips or
sticks but with the bare hand.
"In the UK the law states that you can
spank a child but not leave a mark; there s
a thin line between spanking and abuse."
He said organisations such as the Social
Workers Association of America and The
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) were
now coming out against corporal punish-
ment even in homes.
Not all countries that banned corporal
punishment have low crime rate
Deyalsingh said all this could change as
they were looking at the Sweden model and
the correlation between the ban on corporal
punishment and low violence.
He said while countries such as Sweden,
Iceland and Germany which had banned
corporal punishment and had low levels of
crime and violence, other countries such
as Venezuela, the Congo and the US had
high levels of crime and violence which may
be due to other factors. The anomaly was
Singapore which has caning and capital
punishment, but a low crime rate.
Connection between child abuse,
neglect...and abusive partner later on
Dr Linda Hadeed, lecturer in Social Work
and Mediation at UWI said research showed
that there was a connection between child
abuse, neglect and abandonment, and the
choice of a similarly abusive partner later
on in life.
Hadeed said the mother stated that the
beating was an expression of love, so from
the child s point of view physical abuse
equals love; so that if my partner abuses
me, it is because he loves me.
Strong parent-child bond needed
She said the parent-child relationship
formed the template by which all other rela-
tionships are patterned, so parents needed
to be particularly careful about providing
good enough parenting.
Hadeed said rage was a sign of helpless-
ness, and parents can easily feel over-
She said all parents needed access to
proper, well-developed support systems and
Hadeed said the support of parents,
whether a single parent or a couple, was
necessary for the development of a well-
She said if a child had even one supportive
adult in her camp, the child was likely to
do well. An absent parent, she also said,
sends the message to the child that she was
Young girls being sexualised
Hadeed said girls were being sexualised
at increasingly younger ages and the society
can no longer ignore that these were the
results of wining songs with suggestive lyrics
and clothes that cover so little of the body.
Hadeed said we need to confront the fact
that children witness and emulate the behav-
iour of adults, and that we have no one to
blame but ourselves.
She said with these two elements com-
bined, a child who was conscious of her
sexuality and who was also longing for atten-
tion, would soon find herself in the
wrong place, with the wong company, or
doing the wrong things.
Child abuse cuts across all borders
Hadeed said what was in the video was
only part of the larger problem as abuse
wasn t only physical; it can also be emotional,
verbal and psychological, and it can take
place in any home, regardless of race, reli-
gion, or socioeconomic class.
She said the physical injuries were tem-
porary but the psychological injuries from
the humiliation would last a lot longer.
Moonan: It was a case of child abuse
Meanwhile, ChildLine coordinator Mary
Moonan said what she saw in the video---
and from ChildLine s perspective because
they are interested in child protection---it
was violent and a case of child abuse.
Moonan said the video was six minutes
of non-stop beating and the child was lit-
erally beaten into submission while the
mother also used obscene language.
Alternatives to violent and
She said all those were not good methods
to discipline a child, and there were alter-
natives and consequences for such actions.
She said the beating was a very violent
and aggressive form of punishment which
will create its own cycle of violence when
that child becomes an adult.
Need for sex education and
parenting skills to be taught
Moonan said parents needed to be taught
parenting skills and be trained to acquire
these skills to be good parents in the 21st
She said consideration should be given
to introducing parenting classes in sec-
ondary schools as well as sex education to
teach them responsibilities, not only finan-
cial, but emotional, time management and
commitment-wise, and also given a model
of what a good parent should be.
Moonan said she wanted to encourage
sex education as well as parenting education
in schools so that the country could have
a better generation of parents in the next
five or ten years.
Enough laws already
Moonan said more laws weren t needed
for child abuse, but enforcement was the
She said when a parent neglected or
abused a child, ChildLine gets such calls,
the police have the authority to investigate
and remove the child if he is at risk.
Moonan said the parent can also be
charged if abuse takes place and it would
be challenging going to the privacy of a
home to enforce new laws.
T&T can find middle
ground to discipline kids Think about the
wellbeing of the child
of 12 year old
Ramesar to father:
Both the Single Fathers Association
(SFATT) and the Police Social Welfare Asso-
ciation (PSWA) are advocating social rather
than criminal intervention in the public
beating of a 12-year-old girl by her moth-
er.The father, who is a police officer, said he
was weighing his legal options with regards
to the beating which was posted on social
media and the comments of the mother on
The name and shame video, in which the
child was disciplined for posting inappropriate
pictures of herself on Facebook, has gone
viral. The response has been mixed---with
some saying it is tantamount to child abuse,
while others are in support of the intervention
of the single mother, Helen Bartlett.
Inspector Anand Ramesar, president of the
PSWA, called on the father, his colleague, to
respond to the issue in the context of the
welfare of the child.
He said the interest of the child and her
wellbeing must be the guiding factor.
"We feel that the way forward is to provide
a mechanism that places the child welfare as
the overriding factor. We are calling for heal-
ing, we are calling for guidance and coun-
"The association extends its hands to the
parents of that child to assist them in the
The police have also started an investigation
into the matter. Bartlett has publicly stated
she is not afraid to be jailed as she stands by
"The association is of the view that the
matter should be dealt with from a social
intervention perspective as opposed to a crim-
SFATT president Rondell Feeles also said
the family has suffered enough humiliation.
The association intends to reach out to the
Dr Varma Deyalsingh
Deyalsingh said the Ministry of the
People and Social Development has a
parenting help line where someone can
call for assistance---800-4775
Moonan said for counselling,
advice and to report incidents of child
abuse, call ChildLine, the Children's
Authority (627-0748); National Family
Service (627-1163) in the The Ministry
of Gender, Youth and Child
Development, the police and other
ChildLine's toll free number: 800-
4321, it is open 24 hours, 365 days, and
all calls are confidential.
WHERE TO GO FOR HELP?
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