T&T gov't concerned over child beating on Facebook

Mother stands by decision

Thursday, April 24, 2014

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago government has called on parents to use "non-physical forms of discipline" when dealing with their children after a video went viral on social network Facebook showing a mother beating a 12-year-old for more than six minutes.

"The Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development has noted with concern the viral video of a mother beating her young daughter for allegedly posting inappropriate photos of herself on the popular social media site Facebook," the ministry said in a statement.

"The ministry wishes to advise parents there are different forms of discipline which should be considered when dealing with children.

"The ministry strongly advocates the use of non-physical forms of discipline. Physical forms of discipline can lead to harm and unintended consequences, including serious injury, poor mental health or even death," it said.

But the mother of the child, Helen Bartlett, speaking on radio here yesterday, said she had "no regrets about disciplining my child" after the video had been shared more than 43,300 times on social networking sites.

"I stand firmly by my decision. I would go to jail for that," she said, adding, "I know my daughter will be an example to society."

She told radio listeners that despite the public controversy, she has had the support of her family.

The mother said the daughter has since apologised for the situation, but that the child's father, whom she described as a police officer, is yet to contact the family on the issue.

"I have been having problems with this child since pre-school," the mother said, adding that the daughter has also complained of having "low esteem".

The mother said that the child, the second of four children, had posted sexually implicit photographs on the social website and then her method of disciplining her was to ensure that in the coming months, she would not have to deal with any early pregnancy or even worse, her death.

In its statement, the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development said it recognises that during adolescent years, many children face challenges which may lead to inappropriate behaviour such as the posting of unsuitable images on social media.

"This may be a sign of deeper issues which need to be addressed. Parents are also encouraged to monitor their children's use of social media and other information technologies, especially as these relate to the posting of inappropriate photographs and videos. This can have serious consequences for the child's reputation and character," the ministry pointed out.

Meanwhile, President of the National Parent/Teacher Association (NPTA) Zena Ramatali has disagreed with the manner in which the mother dealt with the situation, adding "I don't think that is the way to go. That is not the way to discipline your child. We have to look at the manner of parenting. And we have to look at the way we are using technology.

"We are parenting children in the 21st century. They are exposed to Facebook, Twitter and all the sites. We need to help them manage and understand. Whatever you put on the Internet can affect their young lives. We have to show them what are the consequences, what could come out of exposing the body on Facebook and Twitter," she added.




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