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Dr Varma Deyalsingh

Sascha Wilson

Parents are being advised against public shaming as a form of punishment for children as it could lead to depression and suicide.

Psychiatrist Dr Varma Deyalsingh gave the advice as the Child Protection Unit (CPU) investigates an incident on Monday where a young boy was seen kneeling on the roadside in front of a house with his hands upraised.

The CPU went in search of the child after a photograph went viral on social media.

This angered social media users who called for the child’s parents to be arrested, describing this form of punishment as cruel and inhumane.

Head of the CPU Supt Claire Guy-Alleyne said they were able to locate the child but they still don’t know yet whether the child was being punished.

She said they are arranging for the child to receive psychosocial support through the Children’s Authority before speaking to him. She said they would also be interviewing the neighbours to get a full understanding of the situation.

When contacted Deyalsingh did not want to speak to that particular incident since it was still being investigated and the circumstances are not yet known. However, he said that style of punishment is known as authoritarian and it is now frowned upon.

“The problem we have here is that if you go to put a child where you publicly shame a child, that is something that goes into dangerous waters because what we found now is that younger children are getting depressed, anxious. Younger children are committing suicide.”

He said it affects the children’s self-esteem.

“If they think I am not popular, I am not good, they are quick to go and commit suicide. Remember the younger age groups now ar know suicide and depression is the second highest cause of death.”

While the idea behind punishing a child is using punishment as a tool to reshape the child’s behaviour, he said public shaping is not the way.

“Parents nowadays have to realise that you have to be very cautious how we going to scold our children. How we going to correct our children. It’s not like long ago, it’s a different ball game where children are very easy to go and hang themselves.”