Courtesy - The Island
by Dr. R.A.R.Perera
M.B.B.S (Cey), M.Sc. Psych. (Col), F.A.R.C.G.P. C. Psych. (Canada), C.Ht. (USA)
Consultant Clinical Psychologist.
The most frequent form of violence at home remains relatively hidden from public scrutiny – which is battering of a child by his or her parents. Violence has long been a part of family life. A research conducted by a social psychologist called Straus has revealed that an individual is more prone to be beaten or injured by a family member at home than by anyone else in any other place.
At least three major factors seem to be involved in these instances.
Many psychologists believe that common stress is an important source of child abuse. Stress from great many source piles up during the day and people often can do little to alleviate it.
A worker cannot express anger against an employer easily for fear of being fired. Traffic snarls allow drivers little in the way of retaliation. As a result, an exhausted and angry adult may engage in displacement of aggression. That is he or she may attack some target other than the one that is producing the stress. Often children are the targets of displacement not only because they are available but also because they are defenceless against attack.
Studies have found statistical associations between various indicators of stress and child abuse. A large proportion of mothers who abused theirs children were experiencing economic stress and were without supportive resources.
Even when they are experiencing great stress, most adults will not batter their children unless there are cultural sanctions for this kind of behaviour. Adults do not, for example, attack their neighbour’s children or pets. Strong informal rules prohibit such actions. However, beating one’s own children is an action that has long been sanctioned in the society.
Certain people are more likely to react to stress by battering their children than others. In some cases the aggressive parent may be imitating models in his or her own family. A number of studies show that many parents who abuse their children were themselves abused in childhood or they observed violent adult models. However, modelling may not account for all incidents of child beating. Many child abusers suffer from severe emotional problems or other social problems such as social isolation.
If child abuse is to be reduced, one approach might be to obviate the practices that sanction it. If physical punishment becomes socially unacceptable, it is more likely to be monitored in the community and reduced through shame.