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10 December 2023

1 in 5 UAE parents say it's ok to spank kids

Most parents believe that hitting kids to make them toe the line doesn’t help in today’s world. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Shuchita Kapur
A minority of parents in the UAE believe that spanking children in moderation is an acceptable thing to do and may eventually be good for them in the long-run.
“I won’t say spanking is effective but, yes, sometimes [they need to be spanked] when you feel that they must not repeat that mistake again,” said a respondent.
Sixteen per cent of parents who spoke to Emirates 24|7 say spanking should be used to discipline children when they refuse to obey. However, majority (84 per cent) parents and educationists who participated in this poll believe corporal punishment for children is a thing of the past.
They believe it is an unnecessary way to discipline, and should not be condoned or encouraged. Parenting or bringing up kids should not include the concept of spanking and the saying “spare the rod and spoil the child” has no relevance in today’s world.
According to Taaleem (which operates schools such as Dubai British School, Raha International and Uptown School), non-violent means should be adopted when it comes to disciplining children.
“The phrase ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ has never seemed so outdated. Most modern day curricula teach respect, being principled, caring and are aimed at developing the personal qualities young people need to become good global citizens. Violence against an individual or group and that is what corporal punishment is, has no part in the modern educational process, in fact it is to abhorred whatever form it takes. In a world where we have human rights charters to protect children; everyone must be educated to recognise, respect, promote and uphold these rights. When violence is portrayed so graphically in the media and even in the recreational electronic games that are so prevalent in our children’s lives, it is our job as educators to contextualize this and equip our young men and women with the skills to resolve real life conflict through dialogue and mutual understanding,” Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem told Emirates 24|7.
Most parents believe that hitting kids to make them toe the line doesn’t help in today’s world.
Paul Velasco, father of two small children, says there is no concept of hitting little ones in his family.
“As a parent I do not believe in spanking children. I don’t believe in spanking children and can proudly say that I have never spanked my children or anyone else’s for that matter. I believe as an adult we have to show restraint. In my opinion spanking is ignited by uncontrolled anger in an adult who lashes out at his or her child rather than a controlled action of discipline. I believe children should be reasoned with and made to understand what is right and wrong through their conscience.
“For sure spare the rod and spoil the child is outmoded and really mistakes made by our ancestors. In conclusion, this is a personal opinion and I believe each parent should be given the freedom to do as they believe provided of course children are not mentally abused or injured but there should be zero tolerance for beating of children. My choice (and my wife’s) is the non-violent route and we shall benefit or suffer the consequences accordingly,” he told this website.
Another parent, who did not wish to quoted, said dealing with small ones is more or less dealing with an irrational boss. 
“Spanking or physically disciplining the child, according to me, should be used in the rarest of cases, definitely not before the means of verbally disciplining a kid - cajoling, coaxing, convincing - have been tried repeatedly and have failed. Even then, as a parent or guardian, the emphasis should be on finding put why the child is not responding to these verbal means rather than taking the caning route.
“Perhaps the child is trying to tell the parents something; perhaps s/he wants them to spend more time with the kid, or perhaps s/he's being bullied at school or playground and is not sure how to express it to the parents. There might be a number of reasons and it's a parent's/guardian's responsibility to find out what it is instead of resorting to the short-cut method of disciplining, which may force the kid to behave the way you want at that moment, but could have longer term negative repercussions. I personally try to imagine the tantrum-throwing kid as an unreasonable boss - can I try spanking my boss? Definitely not - so I try to do what I would do to convince the boss rather than showing physical superiority to a child,” he said.
A mother of a five-year old boy said beating up kids can only result in temporary obedience but can be detrimental in the long-run. “It doesn't help in the long run. If parents keep on spanking their kids, one day the child might just turn back and say ‘you can beat me, but you can't break me'. It's always better to reason it out since kids are extremely intelligent. The children might obey temporarily to a bout of spanking but that is only a short-term gain. They don't forget easily and when they grow up they will hold it against their parents.
“It worked at a time when the parents, especially the fathers, maintained their distance from the children. But nowadays, both parents tend to be hands-on and hence, spanking doesn't work. But having said that I would like to add ‘reasoning out’ requires a lot of patience and is certainly all about taking the long route to discipline your child. It's not easy,” she added.

In 29 countries around the world, it is illegal for a parent, teacher, or anyone else to spank a child, and 113 countries prohibit corporal punishment in schools. Yet, many children continue to be spanked by their elders in order to be disciplined around the world.