A latest UNICEF study has revealed that Indian parents use 30 different ways of abuse to punish or discipline their children, from when they are born till they turn 6.
This includes verbal, physical and emotional abuse - from burning, pinching, pushing, shaking, slapping with hands, beating with stick, twisting of ears, hitting with an object, beating with implements like belts, rods to mocking, ignoring the child, creating fear, discriminating, comparing and bullying the child.
The study was held in two districts in Madhya Pradesh, two in Chhattisgarh, two in Odisha, three districts in Rajasthan and four in Maharashtra in 2019. It revealed that the verbal and emotional abuse often included calling the children names, denying them food and even asking the children to leave the house.
The study also revealed that these forms of abuse were used as punishment for things like disobeying parents, not finishing tasks allotted to them and for girls - it included not helping in household chores. The sexism behind how children in India are raised also reflected in the study.
Mothers impose time restrictions on 3-6 year-old female children, ask them to be mindful of what they wear, be polite to people, obey their elders and sit ‘properly’. Grandparents advise 4-6 year-old female children to walk slowly in front of elders and keep their eyes down.
These forms of abuse in the early years normalise abuse for children as they grow up, who start to feel guilty for making mistakes and belief that they deserve the punishment. It also leads to the children lacking the ability to form positive relationships and affects their brain development.