Judging by common talk or comments, it may seem that Hungary is the country of everyday slaps, reports hvg.hu. The phenomenon can be measured in numbers, and UNICEF’s newest results depict a somewhat exasperating picture: many people are not fully aware of that children cannot be slapped or spanked, even if the situation seems to justify it.
In Hungary, the topic of raising children is similar to that of playing football: everyone feels authorised to give their opinion on it. Disciplining children is, therefore, a hot topic, which was turned to good use in a Hungarian TV show, Appra, Magyar!, where celebrities were asked whether a parent can slap their children. The answers reflected a slightly forgiving attitude.
In the same TV show, a psychopedagogy expert explained that slaps are humiliating, but in some situations, they are unavoidable, and then tips were given on beating the children, while the guests and the anchor-person heavily nodded.
UNICEF researched with Publicus Research via a telephone survey forming a national representative pattern of opinions regarding possible devices of raising and disciplining children.
36% of respondents believe it is formidable that parents use physical punishment when they want to discipline or punish their children. 53% dismissed the idea, 11% did not know or want to answer.
Katalin Tausz, UNICEF’s representative of the rights of the child, explained in the report about the survey that the answers do not mean that Hungarian parents actually use any form of physical treatment as punishment. She also added that latency is high, and many people have the idea that it is not tactful to beat a child, which explains the high number of those avoiding to answer.
It turns out that those with children younger than 18 years-old (29% of respondents), find physical disciplining less formidable than those who do not have a child of this age. 25% of the former, 40% of the latter group agrees with physical punishment.
Regarding the age and sex of the respondents, women and younger people are less tolerant towards physical punishment.
61% of 45-59 years-old respondents refuse physical violence, but almost half, 47% of those older than 60 years find it acceptable.
While in the other educational levels, the rate was almost the same except for those having taken their final examinations: 42% of them believed using physical force in discipline was all right.
The researchers also asked people about methods which could be used as a disciplining instrument. Based on the responses, the most popular methods were reducing the time of playing, forbidding the children to spend time with their favourite activities and taking away some of the children’s beloved objects.
Making children stand in the corner, which can be seen as a humiliating act, is held as a proper method by 64%. Slapping the children is thought to be acceptable by more than one-quarter and pulling their ears is believed to be OK by one-fifth of them. Although 36% refuses any physical disciplining instruments, spanking the bottom seems to be something different, since more than half of the respondents agree with it, along with 41.7% of those refusing physical violence.
But how do our actions mirror our ways of thinking? Only 7% would not practice any form of punishment, and 8% of Hungarians are fond of all sorts of punishment. More than one-third would apply 1-3 ways of discipline, and almost half of them would use 4-6 instruments of punishment.
Katalin Tausz explained that parents often justify their actions with their helplessness; nevertheless,
violence is never the good example to show our children.
According to an international research by UNICEF, around the world, almost 300 million children of 2-4 years suffer because of the violent discipline used by their parent(s). This is the case regarding three of every four children. Although teaching self-control and tactful behaviour while rearing is part of every culture, many caretakers use violent measures to punish the behavioural patterns they do not like. These always count as the infringement of the rights of the child.
Hungary, judging from comment sections and the common talk, may seem to be the country of slaps. Not long ago a father hit his 11-year-old son so strongly that the boy’s eye was haemorrhaging. The comments following the news included some who took beating children as something natural. The social opinion can be changed by those who were hit as children and growing up, try to talk about their physical and mental pain.
A psychologist did the same: she decided to talk about her childhood after seeing a book on the shelf of a bookshop with practical tips for beating children. As a result of her standing up, the book was eliminated from the store.