If you often use bribes or threats to make your children behave, here’s a study that will make you think twice. A survey conducted in Mumbai and Bengaluru over the past 10 months by Early Childhood Association (ECA), a pan-India think tank, found that 76% of parents in Mumbai often use threats to keep their children in line, and 67% use bribes ‘all the time’ to do so. Another 13% use threats sometimes, while 10% resort to bribes when nothing else works.
ECA, which surveyed about 3,000 parents in each city for the study, warned that such parenting techniques can make children vulnerable to paedophiles, who often use bribes and threats to coerce children and make sure they don’t report abuse.
ECA chose Mumbai and Bengaluru for the study because both cities have seen a spate of cases in which children were sexually abused in schools or school buses over the past three or four years. “We observed that incidents of child sex abuse in Mumbai and Bengaluru had a common thread. In all the cases, the perpetrator was someone the child knew and the abuse continued for a period of time as the child did not report it,” said Swati Popat Vats, president of ECA and Podar Education Network.
The study said there was a connection between children’s silence and parenting styles that involve threats, bribes and physical abuse.
It found that 36% of parents in Mumbai had threatened their children with physical punishment, 21% had threatened to abandon their children, and another 23% had threatened to send them to a boarding school if they did not listen to them. In Mumbai, 64% of parents surveyed said they hit their children often, while 12% said they did so sometimes.
But such techniques can affect children adversely, ECA said. “Sometimes these methods can open up the child to dangers, by encouraging them to keep secrets from parents,” said Vats. “Paedophiles use threats and bribes to ensure that children do not report abuse. If such children also face threats at home, they will be less likely to open up to their parents about the abuse.”
Psychologists said the fast pace of city life and low tolerance levels among parents were behind such disciplining methods. “Parents need to find creative ways of disciplining children. Hitting and bribing are easy but can be harmful,” said Jayanti Debray, a clinical psychologist and counsellor.
Some experts warned that such methods can leave long-term scars. “Any kind of violence or emotional manipulation will mark the child forever. It will make them vulnerable to anti-social elements,” said Dr Harish Shetty, a senior psychiatrist.
• 67% parents bribe their kids do all the time
• 10% do so when nothing else works
• 60% parents use goodies like toys or chocolates to bribe kids
• 31% lure them with television or ipad or technology gadget time
• 9% give them money
How many times or for what tasks do parents bribe their child?
• 44% bribe kids for everything
• 23% do so during mealtime
• 23% do so during homework time
• 10% do so during sleep time
• 76% parents threaten their kids
• 13% use threats sometimes
• 21% say that mummy or daddy will go away
• 23% threaten to put them in boarding school
• 12% say that someone like a bogeyman will take them away
• 36% threaten to hit them
• 8% threaten to deny them their favourite toy or chocolate
Making them feel guilty:
• 64%- parents tell kids that they are working to pay their fees or to buy toys or to keep them in comfort
• 25%- sometimes say that mummy daddy fall sick and get a headache because of them.
• 11%- never make the child feel guilty
Not sparing the rod:
• 64% parents hit their children
• 12% resort to hitting sometimes
• 74% cases both parents hit their kids
• 56% parents feel bad after hitting the child and so hug them or promise a gift
• 10% apologise to their child
Has hitting your child helped you improve your child?
• 78% parents said no, I now need to hit more
• 12% - yes