Moving away from corporal punishment

The incident of a boy who was allegedly beaten with a wooden ruler on his buttocks at a childcare centre deserves some looking into (Boy, 8, comes home from childcare centre with bruises on buttocks; police investigating;ST Online, Feb 12).

We recognise that corporal punishment remains an acceptable form of discipline in Singapore's context.

However, Singapore Children's Society does not condone it. We believe that discipline can be achieved through non-violent means.

Our view is in line with the Child Care Centres Regulations under the Child Care Centres Act, which stipulates that centres should not engage in any form of corporal punishment, including striking a child with physical objects.

There is a fine line between corporal punishment and physical abuse, and there is always the risk of a caregiver crossing the line.

To some, corporal punishment is seen as an effective form of discipline to correct a child's misbehaviour.

Nevertheless, the impetus for change is often fear - the child at the receiving end may not fully understand why he is wrong and may likely repeat the same actions again.

So it is important to equip caregivers with positive parenting strategies to cope with challenging behaviour from a child.

Adults involved in the caregiving of children have a responsibility to role model positive behaviours and create a safe space for children to grow up in.

We have published a series of parenting guides which provide parents and caregivers with useful tips on caring for their child, from birth to pre-school age, which can be downloaded at www.childrensociety.org.sg/research-publications.

Alfred Tan Chwee Seng

Chief Executive Officer

Singapore Children's Society

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2018, with the headline 'Moving away from corporal punishment'. Print Edition | Subscribe