It happened at about 9:45 am when I got out of my residence to visit an acquaintance. As I reached the turn along the narrow and dangerously traffic-studded Old Bara Road, a child of about four years, dressed in green, suddenly came out of a shop and ran along the road. As he scuttled by my side, I suddenly became alert to the possible risk as I found traffic all around – cars and rickshaws and bikes. The next moment the child narrowly escaped being hit by a car whose driver was quick enough to steer away from the line whence the child ran. The little boy was startled and afraid. I held him by the hand to make sure he doesn’t get hit by anything.
“Is he with you?” asked a middle-aged man, just behind us, who had watched the child’s escape from the accident. I told him he wasn’t and asked the child where he was going, thinking to escort him there. Just then, a man from the opposite side of the road approached us, took the child’s hand in his own, releasing my hand, and slapped the boy fairly hard on his cheek. And he didn’t stop at it; instead, he quickly hit the child again on the other cheek, saying, “I had told you not to come out!”
Before he could hit again, which he meant, I held his hand and said, “what are you doing? He is just a child!” Meanwhile the man who had asked me about the child also intervened, telling the parent/guardian not to hurt the child, who by then had shrunk into a mass of fear and confusion. The angry guy stopped hitting the child and took him along. Feeling irritated and somewhat angry at this irresponsible behavior of the child’s guardian, I walk ahead.
I perfectly understand that teaching a child manners is legitimate business and some mild form of punishment may be allowed in extreme cases. But what happened to that child is something that I think was the ultimate exhibition of irresponsibility on behalf of the guardian. Leaving a child of four years alone in a shop along such a busy road where even grownups walk with great care is something I consider no less than criminal negligence. How come that he hit the child for showing risky behavior? It is clear to me, however, that the guy immediately realized his fault and also that the public had become aware of it. To cover his anxiety and escape social disapproval, he quickly – somewhat instinctively – vent his anger out on the child.
In my earlier post on Digital Journal
about parental responsibility and child torture, I questioned whether it was ethical for parents to let their kids be tortured by others. But this incident showed me first-hand that a bad guardian will also torture the defenseless child him/herself in order to cover the act of leaving a child at risk of accident.
The point that demands serious attention is the increasing evidence that children treated roughly in their early years develop aggressive attitudes and behaviors in their adult life. In her book How Children Become Violent
, mental health expert Dr. Kathryn Seifert traces the root of violence in adult life to early years’ abuse and neglect of violent people in their childhood. That neglected and harshly treated children grow up to be aggressive was also concluded by a 2010 study
that was conducted in 20 large cities in the US. Children getting physical punishment, even if not so frequently, were found to be growing into bullies with disobedient temperaments, and destructive dispositions.
It is pretty obvious that the kind of treatment the little boy received before me is exactly what gets the destructive nerve started in children. I can only hope that parents stop treating their children cruelly and learn to accept their own faults to be able to stop the chain of destructiveness from spreading to future generations.