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Domestic CP - February 2014

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All the R-AGE (The Star Online), 25 February 2014

Speaking out

Young Malaysians share their thoughts on corporal punishment and the effect it could possibly have on children.

A PINCH here and a smack there -- yes, that is how most of our parents deal with us when we misbehave. So imagine the nation's surprise when a Malaysian couple was arrested in Sweden late last year for doing exactly what most parents (and children) think is the norm -- to use corporal punishment as way of disciplining unruly kids.

The couple is currently on trial in Stockholm for gross violation of a child's integrity, by hitting and abusing their children and under the Section 4A, Chapter 4 (on crimes against liberty and peace) of the Swedish Penal Code, could face between six months and six years in prison for each charge.

Go to prison for "disciplining" a child? But isn't corporal punishment an accepted way to discipline children?

According to the Department of Social Welfare Malaysia, corporal punishment is a method of disciplining children in which a supervising adult deliberately inflicts pain upon a child in response to a child's unacceptable behaviour and/or inappropriate language.

The immediate aims of such punishment are usually to halt the offence, prevent its recurrence and set an example for others. The ultimate long-term goal is to change the child's behaviour and to make it more consistent with the adult's expectations.

Although corporal punishment is lawful in Malaysia in three areas -- home, schools and the penal system -- abuse is not tolerated in Malaysian law.

Here we have young people sharing their thoughts on corporal punishment, whether they believe it is an effective method and if they were subjected to it when they were younger.

Amanda Tan, 17, student, SMK Convent Bukit Nanas
"My parents spared the rod. But as a punishment, I got grounded at the age of 16. I think that it's too harsh and the physical punishment will just instil temporary fear until the pain has gone."

Sharon Ng, 20, student, UTAR
"At first it was a bit embarrassing because among my siblings, I got the most caning. That was because I was the little black sheep in the family -- fooling around in school, fighting with my sisters and getting into all sorts of trouble. But as I grew older, I realised the difference it made to me. If my mum didn't correct me, I would be making the same mistakes again. I agree to an extent on physical punishments, but there are limitations, just like there are limitations to everything else one does in the world."

Theresa Benedict, 20, student, University Sains Malaysia
"I guess you could say I did become a better person, but physical punishment wasn't a big part of making me who I am today. However, it gave me a sense of discipline and taught me in my younger days on how to have manners and etiquette, which is something the world is losing out on. There is a limit (to physical punishments) as to how far it can go, and parents should keep in mind that their child is most likely to follow their actions and ways."

Denyse Chan, 19, student, KDU University College
"Yes (I experienced corporal punishment), but the physical punishments did not stop me from doing whatever I wanted to do."

Jennifer Peter, 20, student, Sunway University
"They didn't physically punish me, but scolded me. In my own opinion it would be better to talk things out with your children by reprimanding them and advising them to get them to understand where they went wrong."

Kietsen Tay, 20, student, KDU University College
"I have been physically punished by my mother. Naturally, it affected me in terms of pain and I felt as if sometimes she just hated me. I have to say I don't fully support this form of punishment as not all children's mindsets are the same. Some children are strong and accept the punishment. However, there are some children who take it the wrong way and get mentally traumatised, which may lead to psychological breakdowns and even, in the worst case scenario, suicide."

Ammar Azlan, 20, student, Manipal International University
"Yeah, pretty regularly when I was around 10 to 12 years old. Yes, I believe that physical punishment -- if administered in the proper way -- is very effective in teaching children to differentiate right from wrong. They may feel they are victimised at first, but as they get older and more mature they will, just as I did, come to see that the punishments they received were ultimately for their own good."

Yitzhak Manuel, 20, student, Russian National Research Medical University
"Yes, usually by the normal scolding or if it's serious then it's a slap across the face. I don't really agree to it because it depends on the person receiving it. Some might take it as motivation and life lessons, but others could take it hard and it can really demotivate them."

Nurul Farhana, 24, student, UTAR
"I agree with physical punishment because it will train you to remind yourself to do something which would give you a good future."

Harvey Gooi, 26, assistant lecturer
"I don't think (corporal punishment) had much adverse effect on me. It left some temporary cane marks, but those fade away after a day. Mentally and emotionally, it didn't make me think that it's okay to use violence to solve problems. So I absolutely agree with it -- if it is done in moderation. But boy am I grateful to have been punished for my wrongdoings every time I see those spoilt children who get spared."

© 2014 R.AGE. A Product of Star Publications (M) Bhd

blob Follow-up: 5 April 2014 - Malaysia's love for the cane is questioned

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