Original article of the piece published in The Malaysian Insider today.
It is welcoming to note that the Minister of Women and Family Development will review the Child Act stating among other things, that caning could be an offence under a new law to replace the Child Act 2001. We appreciate the fact that we aim to make alignments and rectifications to the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CRC.aspx) which Malaysia is a signatory.
We firmly believe this is they right direction, that children have rights and it is wrong to inflict pain upon another, especially to children in this case. Hitting a child and inflicting pain a reminder and lesson for any wrong doing may not be the best way to do affect change. While the physical pain may serve as a lesson, the lessons from the mental pain is stronger, the lesson they will eventually pick up will be that violence is a legitimate process of learning.
Latest studies have shown that in terms of whether parental aggression (spanking) decreases aggression in the child, the answer is no. In fact, spanking tends to increase child aggression. “Spanking predicted increases in children’s aggression over and above initial levels [of aggressive behaviour]” and “in none of these longitudinal studies did spanking predict reductions in children’s aggression over time” Instead, spanking predicted increases in children’s aggression. [Source https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201309/research-spanking-it-s-bad-all-kids]
We believe hitting is not the answer. Patience, listening to them and working with children to understand themselves is the solution.
We would like to echo and support Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin that parents be merciful when teaching their young. He further stated in hi Facebook Page, “When educating or raising children, the responsibility of parents is to do it with compassion and mercy.” (The Malay Mail, 26 Jan 2015)
To be compassionate and merciful take a long process of educating and communicating with our children. This process also involve the parents. In the Buddhist practice, introspection in our our mental state of parents is just as critical, not to let the actions of our children’s education be lead by anger or ignorance.
We are also deeply aware that reinforcing caning and other from of capital punishment, the fact that it is legitimate to inflict pain on to other if intentions are right. This amendment to the Act, will be a great opportunity to force different approach to “disciplining” children, perhaps a more compassionate ones.
Stopping the caning the only the first step. We must encourage the development of positive and wholesome environments - from homes and school where learning and education takes place positively.
Hence, making it law against caning we feel is an excellent starting point. Criminalising caning of children will not work unless effort is made to further move away from a punitive approach of solving problems with individuals and society. This will probably require a review of our education system, the way we define discipline, review learning styles and begin to be inclusive of different learning abilities. Let us not continue to be grounded in doing things that were handed to us from the past just because Caning and forms of physical punishment must be removed all together and in its place develop a compassionate principle of governance.
Love and compassion have guided the best of individual human behavior and values throughout human history. But suspicion, indifference, animosity and hatred have also characterized human relations -- particularly in dealing with people of different tribes, religions and cultures. Because of the subjective nature of these sentiments, these are rarely factored in designing systems of governance of our public or private institutions.
In our world today, we can all do with much less violence and aggression. Strengthened by the core values of our shared spiritual practices, we can build a compassionate and peaceful country.