Hitting children may be banned in schools, but a majority of parents are not sparing the rod at home, a survey has revealed.
Around 76% parents use physical violence to discipline their children, while 67% resorted to bribing them to make them behave, said the survey of 3,000 parents in Mumbai and Bangalore by the Podar Education Institute, Santacruz.
Corporal punishment involves hitting the child physically. Spanking, smacking, pinching or violently shaking the child were the most commonly used punishments.
Of the parents who admitted to hitting their children, 64% said they did so regularly and 12% said they only hit their child if there was severe provocation.
In 74% of homes where children were hit, both the mother and father were involved; in 21% homes, it was only the mother who hit children and in 5% homes, only the fathers.
Many parents also admitted to emotionally threatening their children, bribing them or humiliating them in front of their friends, to get them to behave. While 36% parents threatened their children with physical violence, 23% used threats of sending them away to a boarding school and 21% parents said they even threatened abandoning their children if they did not listen to them.
The study pointed out such disciplining techniques have adverse effects on the child.
“Sometimes, these methods may open up the child to dangers, such as keeping secrets from parents,” said Swati Popat Vats, president, Podar Education Network. “They will rebel and misbehave in school.”
Further, threatening children will also make them easy targets for child predators, Vats warned.
“Paedophiles use threats to ensure children do not report abuse. If parents also threaten kids at home, they will not be able to open up to them,” said Vats.
Another popular parenting style is bribing children with goodies and gadgets. Close to 60% parents bribed their children with toys or chocolates and 31% with gadgets. A few parents – 9% - used pocket money as an incentive.
Psychiatrists said the lack of time and low-tolerance levels forced parents to use these disciplining tools. “Parents need to find creative ways of disciplining children. Hitting, bribing, these are easy methods,” said Dr Harish Shetty, a senior psychiatrist at Dr LH Hiranandani Foundation Hospital, Powai.
Such punishments will have long-term consequences, experts said. “Any kind of violence on a child, be it a rap on the back or a slap across the face, is unacceptable,” said Dr Dayal Mirchandani, psychiatrist. “According to a western study, children who have experienced severe physical violence could end up with severe mental and physical illnesses in their adulthood.”