65% child abuse begins at home – Dr Fernando
By Eunice Ruth
Even though parents and the public think that home is the safest place for children to be in , it has been proved that 65 per cent of child cruelty and physical abuse take place within their own homes, said the Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Kelaniya, Asvini Fernando.
Addressing a Media briefing recently she said, the major reason for cruelty and abuse within the home is domestic violence, alcohol addiction and improper relationships. Due to these concerns, the child is forced to face various types of cruelty in the home. Even though doctors can treat physical wounds, mental health cannot be treated in that manner. Therefore, it should be prevented before such trauma takes root. Mental depression in children can change their lives completely, she said.
Prof. Fernando pointed out that Sri Lanka has conducted a survey with the Cambridge University in 2018 and 2019 to find the status of Sri Lankan children. Unfortunately, it was found that 65 per cent of child cruelty occurred within the home through parents, a guardian, relation or by friends being the culprit. Meanwhile, 17 per cent of cruelty happens in schools and the rest occurs in other places such as tuition classes, daycare centres, hostels and religious places. She added that apart from children, adolescents also get affected in various ways due to this cruelty and abuse in their surroundings and by people close to them being involved.
The Cambridge University has also conducted another survey to find out about cruelty undergone by pregnant mothers during pregnancy. She stated, around 150 pregnant mothers who participated in the survey where 24 per cent had exposed that their partners and some relatives had been cruel. Unknown to many parents and the public, child cruelty starts from the pregnancy period of a mother. Actions of fathers and other people towards pregnant mothers will affect the unborn child both mentally and physically, she said. It can also lead to abnormal births and it affect the entire growth cycle of the child who will end up with various disorders.
“Child cruelty can be divided into two categories such as corporal punishment and others. Along with this, generational abuse has been identified as another major reason for child cruelty and physical abuse in the country,” said Fernando.
Data in Sri Lanka shows 78 per cent of teachers prefer to maintain a harsh and strict relationship with students, and they say that that’s how they were raised and was the practical solution to disciplining a child. She said this kind of behaviour in school should be prevented and children should be given a friendly environment to continue their student activity. The Government should implement strict rules to prevent this from taking place. Even though the Government has issued a circular to stop corporal punishment in schools, nothing has been implemented, she alleged.
“Apart from creating parental awareness and educating teachers, we should teach and educate children to be aware of social threats and abuse. It is our responsibility to teach the child to protect themselves and we have a responsibility towards the next generation”, he said.