Paediatricians Warn That Slapping Children Could Cause Deafness

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By Angela Onwuzoo

Child health experts have warned parents against using harsh and violent measures when punishing their children.

The medical experts said parents should put a stop to slapping their children as a form of punishment, warning that it could lead to deafness.

According to the physicians, violently slapping a child could adversely impact a child’s entire life as the child could suffer permanent hearing loss.

Speaking with our correspondent, a Consultant Paediatric Haematologist and Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Prof. Edamisan Temiye, said harshly treating a child also increases the rate of aggression in society.

The paediatrician explained, “A child that is treated in a harsh and unfriendly manner is likely to repeat that in his or her children.

“Children who are from a friendly and loving family, usually are brighter and they express themselves more. And they contribute more positively to society than those children who come from those places where children are shouted at and beaten.

“When you slap a child and the eyeballs become turned, it is dangerous as it can cause injury to the child.

“The child may eventually develop deafness from that for life. When you slap a child and injure the middle ear, if it is not treated properly, the child can become deaf from it.”

Prof. Temiye said it was unacceptable for parents to also starve their children of food as a form of punishment, describing the act as cruel.

The child health expert noted that not allowing children to express themselves is not good at all.

He said, “From childhood, you should allow a child to express himself or herself. And correct them with love when they are wrong. There are many ways of correcting them without shouting at them.

“You can correct your child without inflicting injury on him or her both physically and psychologically. And that is what we should learn.

“When we threaten them not to talk, they become timid, and become a timid adult, and at the end of the day, society will not benefit from it.

“Harshly treating a child affects their psychological development and their ability to contribute to the growth of the society.”

According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, shouting and hitting children simply do not work and can do more harm than good in the long run.

Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, a Consultant Paediatrician, Nephrology Division at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Katsina, Dr. Abdurrazzaq, said children who are abused might develop low self-esteem, depression, bed wetting, and poor academic performance.

He said, “A parent should worry when a child who has previously attained bladder control for more than half a year suddenly starts bed-wetting without any obvious sickness.

“One should look around the home environment, playgroup as well as the school. Tell-tale signs could include withdrawal from activities, moody appearance, loss of appetite, or poor school performance.

“Where the abuse is perpetrated by the parents, it may be difficult to make a diagnosis on time. Therefore, the teacher also has a big role to play to unravel the problems.”

Repeated shouting and hitting, UNICEF noted, does not improve the behaviour of children but is rather harmful to them.

“The continued ‘toxic stress’ it creates can lead to a host of negative outcomes like higher chances of school dropout, depression, drug use, suicide, and heart disease.

“When we know something doesn’t work, that’s a pretty good reason to look for a different approach.”

“Rather than punishment and what not to do, the positive discipline approach puts an emphasis on developing a healthy relationship with your child and setting expectations around behaviour,” UNICEF said.

A review of recent studies conducted by an international group of scientists and published in The Lancet indicated that physical punishment of children is not effective in preventing child behaviour problems.

The review revealed that physical punishment does not improve the behaviour of children.

The researchers looked at 69 studies most of which were from the United States and revealed that instead of promoting positive outcomes, physical punishment increases behaviour problems and other poor outcomes over time.

According to the researchers, 63 per cent of children between the ages of two and four worldwide – approximately 250 million children – are regularly subjected to physical punishment by caregivers.

Sixty-two countries, they noted have banned the practice, which is increasingly seen as a form of violence.

*text from Punch Healthwise

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