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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 253-260

Physical abuse, a harsh way to discipline children: A survey report from rural wardha


1 Department of Mental Health Nursing, Smt. Radhikabai Meghe Memorial College of Nursing, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed University), Wardha, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Community Health Nursing, Smt. Radhikabai Meghe Memorial College of Nursing, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed University), Wardha, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication17-May-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vaishali Dinesh Tendolkar
Smt. Radhikabai Meghe Memorial College of Nursing, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed University), Sawangi (Meghe), Wardha, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdmimsu.jdmimsu_17_18

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  Abstract 


Background: Child abuse, commonly used for disciplining the child, has serious physical and psychosocial consequences which adversely affect the health and overall well-being of a child. It is a violation of the basic human rights of a child and is an outcome of a set of interrelated familial, social, psychological, and economic factors. Child abuse leads to emotional, physical, economic, and sometimes legal consequences for the children aged 3–5 years. It is a globally prevalent and preventable phenomenon. Objectives: The objectives were: (1) To assess the parent reported physical abuse and (2) to find out the child reported physical abuse. Study Design: This was a survey study. Methodology: Physical abuse questionnaire. Sample: Children in the age group 3-5 years and their parents were chosen as the sample. Results: About 54.5% parents and 77.2% children reported that they slap their child once in a week. 4.5% children are slapped every day. 17% parents and 22% children reported pinching once to thrice a week. 51.5% parents and 28.5% children reported beating by parents at least once a week. Other forms of physical abuse such as starving the child, locking in dark empty room, restricting entry in the house, threatening, and scaring are also reported by parents as well as children. Conclusion: Slapping, pinching, beating, making the child starve, throwing the child away, threatening the child, and restricting them from mingling with others are common types of physical abuse by parents to children while disciplining children.

Keywords: Children, disciplining, parent reported, physical abuse


How to cite this article:
Tendolkar VD, Kulkani BD. Physical abuse, a harsh way to discipline children: A survey report from rural wardha. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ 2017;12:253-60

How to cite this URL:
Tendolkar VD, Kulkani BD. Physical abuse, a harsh way to discipline children: A survey report from rural wardha. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Oct 18];12:253-60. Available from: http://www.journaldmims.com/text.asp?2017/12/4/253/232573




  Introduction Top


Child abuse, commonly used for disciplining the child world over, has serious physical and psychosocial consequences which adversely affect the health and overall well-being of a child. According to the WHO: Child abuse or maltreatment constitutes all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child's health, survival, development, or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust, or power.[1]

Child abuse is a violation of the basic human rights of a child and is an outcome of a set of interrelated familial, social, psychological, and economic factors. The problem of child abuse and human rights violations is one of the most critical matters on the international human rights agenda. In the Indian context, acceptance of child rights as primary inviolable rights is fairly recent, as is the universal understanding of it.[1]

Child abuse is a state of emotional, physical, economic, and meted out to a person between the ages of 3 and 5 years and is a globally prevalent phenomenon. However, in India, as in many other countries, there has been no understanding of the extent, magnitude, and trends of the problem. The growing complexities of life and the dramatic changes brought about by socioeconomic transitions in India have played a major role in increasing the vulnerability of children to various and newer forms of abuse.[2]

The National Study on Child Abuse undertaken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, in 2005, attempts to understand the extent of the problem, its dimensions as well as its intensity. In addition, it examines strategies to address the problem of child abuse.

The term “Child Abuse” may have different connotations in the different cultural milieu and socioeconomic situations. A universal definition of child abuse in the Indian context does not exist and has yet to be defined. According to the WHO physical abuse is the inflicting of physical injury on a child. This may include burning, hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, or otherwise harming a child. The most common reason for physical abuse to the child is to discipline the child. The parent or caretaker may not have intended to hurt the child. It may, however, be the result of overdiscipline or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child's age.[3]

Parental mental illness, social isolation, single parenthood, and domestic violence may be a more powerful predictor of abuse and neglect than substance abuse (Testa and Smith 2009). Some suggest that socioeconomic variable, such as poverty, childcare burden, unemployment, and residential instability are associated with higher risks for child abuse and neglect.[4]

Child abuse has for a long time been recorded in literature, art, and science in many parts of the world. Reports of infanticide, mutilation, abandonment, and other forms of violence against children date back to ancient civilizations.[1] The historical record is also filled with reports of unkempt, weak, and malnourished children cast out by families to fend for themselves. For a long time also, there have existed charitable groups and others concerned with children's well-being who have advocated the protection of children. Nevertheless, the issue did not receive widespread attention by the medical profession or the general public until 1962, with the publication of a seminal work, the battered child syndrome, by Sen et al. The term “battered child syndrome” was coined to characterize the clinical manifestations of serious physical abuse in young children.[5],[6]

Now, four decades later, there is a clear evidence that child abuse is a global problem. It occurs in a variety of forms and is deeply rooted in cultural, economic, and social practices. Solving this global problem, however, requires a much better understanding of its occurrence in a range of settings, as well as of its causes and consequences in these settings.[6]

As discussed above, there is a large child population in India and a large percentage of this population is vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, and neglect. There is also inadequate information about the extent of child abuse in the country. Barring a few sporadic studies, with limited scope, the attempt to understand the different forms and magnitude of child abuse across the country has been inadequate. The only information available annually is the crime data maintained by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB).[7]

A look at the data maintained by NCRB shows that:

There is a record of only those crimes which can be registered under the IPC or other criminal Acts. Corporal punishment, use of children for the creation of pornography, exposure, etc., are not reflected in the NCRB data as they are not offenses under the IPC.[7]

There is a gross underreporting of crimes against children, which in itself is indicative of the low priority accorded to children by parents, caregivers, and the police. Recently reported cases, in which the police did not even lodge First Information Reports of missing children is indicative of this. The government, which has the onerous task of implementing constitutional and statutory provisions, is concerned about the lack of data in this area. It was felt that India needs both legislation as well as large-scale interventions to deal with the increasing incidence of child abuse. It was also felt that the problem of child abuse was bigger than what was either understood or acknowledged. It was in this context that the Ministry of Women and Child Development initiated the National Study on Child Abuse.[7]

Aim of the study

The study aims at assessing the extent of and nature of physical abuse among children in the age group of 3–5 years in rural areas of Wardha district as reported by parents and the children themselves.

Objectives of the study

The objectives of this study were:

  1. To assess the extent and nature of physical abuse as reported by parents of children in the age group of 3–5 years in rural areas of Wardha District.
  2. To assess the extent and nature of physical abuse as reported by children in the age group of 3–5 years in rural areas of Wardha District.



  Methodology Top


The study is approved by the Institution ethics Committee of DMIMS(DU) vide letter DMIMS(DU)/IEC/2016-17/6065 dated 20/10/2016.

Setting of the study

The study is conducted in selected rural areas (Sawangi, Sewagram, Deoli, Nandora, and Nagpur villages) of Wardha District.

Sample

The sample for the present study comprised of parents and children in age group of 3–5 years from of rural areas of Wardha District.

Sample size

The sample size selected for this study is 200 parents and 200 children in the age group of 3–5 years.

Sampling technique

Nonprobability purposive sampling technique was used in this study.

Criteria for sample selection

The study includes parents and children in the age group of 3–5 years; both males and females and those who are cooperative, willing to participate in the study and available at the time of data collection.

This study excludes the parents and children of 3–5 years who are mentally challenged, physically challenged, and those suffering from any chronic systemic diseases (e.g. congenital heart diseases).

Variable under study

Reported physical abuse.

Material

  1. Structured response sheet for demographic data gives baseline information of children such as age, gender, and birth order, and for parents, it seeks information about age, occupation, family income, education, religion, etc.
  2. Structured questionnaire records responses for physical abuse from parents and children.


Method of data collection

The study proposal was approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee of DMIMS (DU). Parents were explained about the study and written informed consent was obtained from them. They were interviewed face to face in their family setting. The questionnaire for children was shown to their parents. Written consent was also obtained from parents for asking questions to their children. However, the children were asked questions in the premises of Anganwadi confidentially by exclusively female data collectors. For this, written consent was obtained from Anganwadi workers also. On an average, 8 children and their parents were interviewed in a day by two separate teams of interviewers (five in each team) who were trained for data collection. The educational level of the data collectors is the final year (4th year) Basic B. Sc. Nursing.

Plan for data analysis

The data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics.


  Results Top


The study aimed at assessing the extent and nature of physical abuse among the children in the age group of 3–5 years are reported by themselves and their parents. The findings of the study are discussed in two parts, namely, the distribution of sample according to the demographic characteristics and the frequency distribution for various types of physical abuse.

Distribution of children according to their age in months shows that 32% of children were in age group of 36–41 months, 18% of children were in age group of 42–47 months, 19.5% of children were in age group of 48–53 months, and 30.5% of children were in age group of 42–47 months, respectively. 50.5% of children were male and 49.5% of children were female. 61% of children were the first child, 35.5% of children were second child, 3% of children were belongs to third child, and 0.5% of children were fourth child in the family [Table 1].
Table 1: Distribution of children according to their demographic characteristics

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According to the religion of participants, 78.5% are Hindu, 16% are Buddhist, and 5.5% are Muslims. Distribution of parents according to age in years reveals that 18.5% of parents are in 21–25 years age group, 42.5% are in 26–30 years age group, 24.5% are in 31–35 year age group, and 14.5% of parents are in 36–40 years age group. According educational level of parents, 2% parents are illiterate, 15% parents have completed their primary education, 18% parent have completed their secondary education, 40% parents have completed their higher secondary education, 15% parents have completed their graduation, 2.5% parents have completed their postgraduation, and 7.5% parents have other education.

According to family income, 20% of the parents have it below Rs. 5000/month; 24% of parents have between Rs. 5001 and 10,000/month; 25% of parents have between Rs. 10,001 and 15,000/month,; 15% of parents have between Rs. 15,001 and 20,000/month; and 16% of parents have it above Rs. 20,000/month. 2.5% family have grandfather as their head, 2.5% family have grandmother, 92.5% family have father, and 2.5% family have mother as their head. 61% parents were mothers of the children and 39% were fathers of the children. 47% were homemakers, 15.5% were laborer, 22.5% farmer, and 15% parents were with other occupation [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution of parents according to their demographic characteristics

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The responses of parents to questions on physical abuse reveal that majority (54.5%) of them slap their child once in a week and 24.5% slap twice a week. 4.5% children are slapped every day. 17% children are pinched once to thrice a week. 51.5% are beaten at least once a week. 8.5% are locked in a dark room alone for hours together at least once a week. 3% are denied food for at least once a week. 26.5% of the children are beaten at least once a week by parents after their quarrel with the spouse or other family member. 8% are restricted from entering the house at least one day in a week. 10.5% are thrown away/pushed away from self by the parents at least once a week. 3.5% are threatened by the parents at least once a week. The children are beaten for the reasons like not obeying (11%), quarrelling with others (8.5%), for parents' own stress (4.5%), after parents quarrel with another family member (3%), for being naughty (35.5), for playing indoors (2%), for breaking things (19%), for making noise, shouting, screaming for no apparent reasons (6%), and for other reasons in 4.5% cases [Table 3].
Table 3: Extent and nature of physical abuse as reported by parents

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As reported by the children, 40.5% are slapped once a week by their parents and a 22.5% reported that they are not slapped even once in a week by their parents. 78% children reported that they are not pinched even once in a week and 16.5% of them reported being pinched once a week. 71.5% children reported that they do not disobey their parents and hence are not punished. 28.5% of the children reported that they are punished by parents for not obeying them. 12% of the children reported that they are starved (not supplied with essential daily meal/food) once a week. 7% children reported that they are kept in an empty dark room alone for hours once a week. 9% of the children reported that they are scared of throwing from terrace/stairs by their parents at least once a week. 54% children are scared of family members other than their parents who scare them at least once a week. 15.5% children reported that parents or other family members punish them because of other problems. 12% children reported that parents or other family members scare them off that they will burn the child if he/she disobeyed them. 43% of the children reported that they are restricted from mingling with other children at least once a week. 23% reported that they are never allowed to meet other children or other people [Table 4].
Table 4: Extent and nature of physical abuse as reported by children

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  Discussion Top


The study aims at assessing the nature and extent of physical abuse to children in the age group of 3–5 years by their parents. The findings reveal that a good number of parents themselves reported that they cause physical abuse to their children at least once in a week. The nature of abuse includes slapping, pinching, beating, threatening, locking in dark empty room, restricting from entering the house for long hours, not providing essential daily meals/food, and punishing the children for others wrong deeds. The children on the other side reported that they are abused physically for not obeying the parents, they are slapped, pinched, threatened, scared to burn or throw off the terrace/staircase, and restricted from mingling with other children.

These findings are supported by following studies. Population-based surveys are an essential element for determining the true extent of nonfatal child abuse. Recent surveys of this type have been completed in a number of countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Romania, South Africa, the United States, and Zimbabwe.[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13]

A 1995 survey in the United States asked parents how they disciplined their children.[8] An estimated rate of physical abuse of 49/1000 children was obtained from this survey when the following behaviors were included: hitting the child with an object, other than on the buttocks; kicking the child; beating the child; and threatening the child with a knife or gun. Available research suggests that the rates for many other countries are no lower and maybe indeed higher than the estimates of physical abuse in the United States.

In a cross-sectional survey of children in Egypt, 37% reported being beaten or tied by their parents and 26% reported physical injuries such as fractures and loss of consciousness or permanent disability as a result of being beaten or tied up.[10]

In a recent study in the Republic of Korea, parents were questioned about their behavior toward their children. Two-thirds of the parents reported whipping their children, and 45% confirmed that they had hit, kicked, or beaten them.[14]

A survey of households in Romania found that 4.6% of children reported suffering severe and frequent physical abuse, including being hit with an object, being burned, or being deprived of food. Nearly half of Romanian parents admitted to beating their children “regularly” and 16% to beating their children with objects.[13]

In Ethiopia, 21% of urban schoolchildren and 64% of rural schoolchildren reported bruises or swellings on their bodies resulting from parental punishment.[10]

Data that are more comparable come from the World Studies of Abuse in the Family Environment (World SAFE) project, a cross-national collaborative study. Investigators from Chile, Egypt, India, and the Philippines administered a common core protocol to population-based samples of mothers in each country to establish comparable incidence rates for harsh and more moderate forms of child discipline. Specifically, the researchers measured the frequency of parental discipline behaviors, without labeling harsh discipline as abusive, using the Parent–Child Conflict Tactics Scale.[8],[15],[16]

Other data to determine risk and protective factors were also routinely collected in these studies. The results are compared to those from a national survey conducted in the United States using the same instrument.[8] It is clear that harsh parental punishment is not confined to a few places or a single region of the world.

Parents in Egypt, rural areas of India, and the Philippines frequently reported, as a punishment, hitting their children with an object on a part of body other than the buttocks at least once during the previous 6 months. This behavior was also reported in Chile and the United States, though at a much lower rate. Harsher forms of violence – such as choking children, burning them, or threatening them with a knife or gun – were much less frequently reported.

Similar parental self-reports from other countries confirm that harsh physical punishment of children by their parents exists in significant amounts wherever it has been examined. In Italy, based on the Conflict Tactics Scales, the incidence of severe violence was 8%.[14] Tang indicated an annual rate of severe violence against children, as reported by the parents, of 461/1000 in China (Hong Kong SAR).[13]

Another study, comparing rates of violence against primary school-aged children in China and the Republic of Korea, also used the Conflict Tactics Scales, though with the questions being directed at the children rather than their parents.[17]

In China, the rate of severe violence reported by the children was 22.6%, while in the Republic of Korea, it was 51.3%. Data from the World SAFE study are also illuminating about patterns of more “moderate” forms of physical discipline in different countries. Moderate discipline is not universally agreed to be abusive, though some professionals and parents regard such forms of discipline as unacceptable. In this area, the World SAFE study suggested a wider divergence among societies and cultures. Spanking children on the buttocks was the most common disciplinary measure reported in each country, with the exception of Egypt, where other measures such as shaking children, pinching them, or slapping them on the face or head were more frequently used as punishment. Parents in rural areas of India, though, reported slapping their children on the face or head about as often as slapping them on the buttocks, while in the other countries, slapping children on the face or head occurred less often.

The parents report physical abuse less in severity as compare to the children reporting it. This is because the children are victim of the physical abuse by their parents and other elderly in the family and around. With increasing literacy and spread of education, the severity of physical abuse may be found decreasing. However, the reports of physical abuse show increasing trends.


  Conclusion Top


Physical abuse in children aged 3–5 years can be considered as common as eating a food or any other daily ritual. Most of the times, the children are abused for disciplining them. Slapping, pinching, beating, making the child starve, throwing the child away, threatening the child, and restricting them from mingling with others are common types of physical abuse to children while disciplining them.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Report of the Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1999. Available from: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/violence/neglect/en/.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Pinheiro PS. World Report on Violence against Children: United Nations Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children. New York: United Nations; 2006. Available from: http://www.violencestudy.org/r25.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. World Perspectives on Child Abuse. 6th ed. 2006. Available from: http://www.ispcan.org.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Save the Children: Abuse among Child Domestic Workers – A Research Study in West Bengal, and Save the Children (2005): Child Domestic Work: A Violation of Human Rights- Assessment of Situation in Delhi City; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Madea B, Herrmann N. “Normal values” in vitreous humor and on dysregulations which can be diagnosed postmortem. In: Jacob B, Bonte W, editors. Advances in Forensic Sciences. Forensic Criminalities II. Vol. 4. Düsseldorf: Verlag Dr. Köster; 1995.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Sen S, Nair PM. Trafficking in Women and Children in India. New Delhi: Orient Longman Pvt., Ltd.; 2005.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Pagare D, Meena GS, Jiloha RC, Singh MM. Sexual Abuse of Street Children Brought to an Observation Home. Indian Pediatrics 2004;42:134.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Straus MA, Hamby SL, Finkelhor D, Moore DW, Runyan D. Identification of child maltreatment with the parent-child conflict tactics scales: Development and psychometric data for a national sample of American parents. Child Abuse Negl 1998;22:249-70.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
Ketsela T, Kebede D. Physical punishment of elementary school children in urban and rural communities in Ethiopia. Ethiop Med J 1997;35:23-33.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
Youssef RM, Attia MS, Kamel MI. Children experiencing violence. I: Parental use of corporal punishment. Child Abuse Negl 1998;22:959-73.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.
Hahm HC, Guterman NB. The emerging problem of physical child abuse in South Korea. Child Maltreat 2001;6:169-79.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
12.
Bardi M, Borgognini-Tarli SM. A survey on parent-child conflict resolution: Intrafamily violence in Italy. Child Abuse Negl 2001;25:839-53.  Back to cited text no. 12
    
13.
Tang CS. The rate of physical child abuse in Chinese families: A community survey in Hong Kong. Child Abuse Negl 1998;22:381-91.   Back to cited text no. 13
    
14.
Hunter WM, Jain D, Sadowski LS, Sanhueza AI. Risk factors for severe child discipline practices in rural India. J Pediatr Psychol 2000;25:435-47.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
15.
Straus MA. Manual for the Conflict Tactics Scales. Durham, NH: Family Research Laboratory, University of New Hampshire; 1995.  Back to cited text no. 15
    
16.
Browne K, et al. Child abuse and neglect. In: Romanian Families: A National Prevalence Study 2000. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 16
    
17.
Kim DH, Kim KI, Park YC, Zhang LD, Lu MK, Li D, et al. Children's experience of violence in China and Korea: A transcultural study. Child Abuse Negl 2000;24:1163-73.  Back to cited text no. 17
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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