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Feb 19, 2015

Healthy Living: Is Violence the Answer to Disciplining Children?

The debate on whether or not parents should spank their children has been raging for decades. And not just in Belize, but all over the world. For years, children rights activists and various N.G.O.s have been advocating that violence is not the answer when it comes to disciplining children. Currently in Belize, it is lawful to use corporal punishment in homes, but in 2011, the country made a significant step minimizing violence on children by no longer allowing teachers to be use corporal punishment within schools. With the launch of UNICEF’s new anti violence campaign “Time Out” we decided to get a professional opinion on how children are really affect by violence in the home.

 

Jennifer Lovell, Mental Health Therapist

“Corporal punishment is the deliberate infliction of pain, deliberate.  It can be done by parents by teachers, or by adults to a child.”

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Parenting is no doubt a tough job. Teaching your child discipline is only one of many responsibilities of being a parent. Jenny Lovell as a mental health therapist has worked with children and parents with various levels of problems. She is staunch supporter of teaching children discipline but not through physical punishment.

Jennifer Lovell

“Let’s talk about discipline and punishment. Discipline is for the child. I am teaching this child how to be a good citizen. So I want to use positive discipline. So I am teaching the child ways of impulse control – I’m not talking about screaming and breaking things.  Punishment is for the parent. You did something that really enraged me and I’m going to beat it out or take it out on you. But what does the child learn? The child is just learning about aggressive behavior. He doesn’t learn. Why do you need to beat the child to teach them a consequence? The whole idea is that I can teach the child how to behave in the future so that I don’t see this same behavior again.”

 

Jennifer Lovell

In Belize, the UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey which collected data in 2010 showed that seventy point five percent of children aged two to fourteen experienced violent discipline, which includes physical punishment and/or psychological aggression, in their home in the past month.

 

Jennifer Lovell

“I wanna talk about the more immediate effects. First of all when we simply beat children for everything we do. What are we modeling for them? What are we demonstrating to the child? Well I am demonstrating to child that we solve problems by using aggressive behavior. What that does, this child is building up a lot of resentment and hatred. They go to school and beat up on other kids. They’re not learning to resolve issues, they are learning to fight. So you show me a kid that beating up somebody and I’ll show you a kid who’s being beaten up at home.”

 

In 2011, when Belize removed corporal punishment from the classrooms, the B.N.T.U. was very concerned that it would create a vacuum when it comes to discipline. The argument then is the same as it is now – positive discipline is proven to be more effective than physical punishment

 

Jennifer Lovell

“I like to give the example, you have a class clown. Teachers get irritated because they disrupt the class. If you stop to give that child attention, you and all the children in that classroom have stopped to give that one child your undivided attention. Can you imagine? I don’t get any attention at home but I get everyone’s attention at school just by misbehaving or being a class clown. So I say to teachers, instead of stopping your whole lesson plan putting him outside where he’s not learning anything at all. What you do instead is wait, let him act out. He’ll stop eventually. The minute you catch that child being quiet for two seconds, make a big fuss about that. Reward the behavior you want to see more of. We do goal setting but that forces a parent to think, that forces a teacher to have to think but it’s easier to just smack the child and say quit cursing or do your chores rather than work with them to learn something. So I have to be creative as a parent to help the child learn different ways of doing things.”

 

And for those who are still not convinced about sparing the rod, Lovell has a special message for them too.

 

Jennifer Lovell

“For years, when I was growing up I use to hear: “Spare the rod. Spoil the child.” And I thought to myself, I wonder if that Sheppard really takes the rod and beats the sheep. He doesn’t. That rod is used to guiding the sheep to safety. That is an old thing that was handed down to us. We know that by beating children we are turning out aggressive children.  We know that we are turning out some very unhappy children. We know we are losing our children. We know all this and we might stand there with bravado and say look at how I turned out.   But honestly, if we are honest with ourselves we can say that we are not comfortable hitting out kids.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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3 Responses for “Healthy Living: Is Violence the Answer to Disciplining Children?”

  1. Belizean says:

    How can you POSSIBLY link spanking to violence?? There is absolutely ZERO connection. A child knows the difference also, not just the parent. If you do it out of love, spanking works. I dont think spanking is the answer EVERY time, but please, dont come with this thing that spanking violence. Thats just BS. That is why we have this lawless nation. The children got BEATEN, not spanked out of love.

  2. Belizean Pride says:

    I WAS LASHED AND SPANK BUT MY PARENTS ALWAYS CALL MY ATTENTION AND TOLD WHY I WAS BEING PUNISHED AND IT GAVE ME AN UNDERSTANDING THAT IT’S UP TO ME IF I WANTED TO BE LASHED OR JUST BEHAVE GOOD. SO SPANKING AND LASHING (WITH GOOD MEASURES) WILL NEVER INCITE VIOLENCE. MRS. LOVELL I LIKE SOME OF YOUR IDEAS, CAUSE I SEE IT WITH MY NEIGHBORS BUT SOME PARENTS LIKE MY NEXT DOOR TAKE THE PUNISHMENT TO THE EXTREME. FOR INSTANCE THE MOM NEXT DOOR ALWAYS KEEP CALLING HER TODDLERS S.O.B AND CLEARLY WHO IS THE B? AND THE LASHINGS ARE SOMETIMES EXTREME THAT MY KID ASK WHY SHE DOES THAT. I LASH HIM (MY KID) AND SPANK MY KID BUT EXPLAIN FIRST WHY AND TELL HIM BECAUSE I LOVE YOU AND WANT YOU TO BE A NICE CITIZEN WHEN YOU GROW UP I HAVE TO DISCIPLINE YOU FOR YOUR ACTS. IF YOU ASK MY KID HE LOVES ME AND HIS MOM, WHY? BECAUSE IT’S THE WAY OF DISCIPLINING A CHILD THAT MAKE HIMS A GOOD PERSON. SO THAT OLD PHRASE WORKS BUT WITH GOOD MEASURES NOT TO THE EXTREME

  3. Laura Martinez says:

    There are plenty of ways to discipline children without hitting, lashing, or spanking them. Future generations will be appalled that this was once considered normal.

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