Child is the father of man

Child is the father of man

The surfacing of recent vulgar rants by Thai youngsters towards their parents on social media has stirred my frustration. Causes of parental let-down are often the same. These teenagers, mostly from hard up families, believe they are being abused by their parents' inability to provide them with modern-day frills — the latest smartphone model or a motorcycle.

And what they posted on social media was sickening. Not only did they scorn their parents with the lowest kinds of words and ill-bred phrases imaginable, some of these kids also said they should have not been born.

Over the past few weeks, I have had serious discussions with friends on how these teenagers have been raised. We have wondered if they would be capable of killing their parents where there is serious disagreement. How has Thailand, known as a family-centric and gratitude-driven country, come to the point that children have absolutely no appreciation and respect towards their parents?

And just when my curiosity peaked, there came another shock — a father physically abused his five-year-old son because he couldn't answer a maths question correctly.

The story made headlines in many local newspapers a few days ago. The incident was recorded with a phone camera by the boy's terrified mother.

In a short video clip, the father asked the boy to identify a number on a worksheet. Innocently and clearly scared, the preschooler said he did not know the answer. In reaction to that, the father kicked the boy in the head.

During the two-minute recording and amid the boy's blubbering pleas and screams, the kick was repeated as many as 12 times — all of them in the head and each one sending the child to the floor. The father then caught the boy by the neck, slapped and strangled him, before throwing him to the floor. The clip, which most people couldn't stand to watch for more than 10 seconds, has gone viral over the past few days amid public outrage that finally led to the father's arrest.

The 32-year-old man said he was sorry, claiming he did it because he was drunk and stressed out as he had just lost his job. He wanted to apologise to the boy and hug him. 

Some news reports dubbed the incident "a father who doesn't know how to properly love his child".

Are these reporters so naive that they see the incident as love? How can they mistake a devil for an untrained dad?

As a mother, I am not against spanking a child to discipline him or her. But this kind of physical torture towards young tots is not discipline and deserves maximum punishment by law.

It's far too late for the father to regret (if he is really remorseful). There has been severe harm done, and I'm sure it's not the first time the father has done this.

My husband said that a strong kick can knock out a grown man, and has expressed concern that it could have led to brain damage.

According to Thailand's Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, last year there were more than 600 incidents of domestic violence.

Yet only 172 cases were filed. Approximately 50 victims were children and the perpetrators were usually their parents.

Before the boom of social media, Thais perceived domestic violence as a "domestic matter".

What happened between household members, whether it be in a private residence or public space, was viewed as the business of no one else. 

It has been the norm that we strictly do not interfere in the way others raise their offspring.

As parents, we are entitled to do whatever we want to bring up our kids, as we do our pets.    

As a result, an astounding number of children have become victimised in their own homes, mistreated by the people who are supposed to love and protect them unconditionally.

A physical injury that happened when they were young might be completely cured as they grow up.

But I'm sure psychological damage will stay forever.  

Now I really don't doubt those foul-mouthed, upset teenagers are a direct product of an abusive upbringing.

And whether they will carry on the family ill-bred tradition to the next generation.

Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Vanniya Sriangura

Senior writer and food columnist of Life

Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist of Life.

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