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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Violence Against Children in Costa Rica & Disciplining WithOUT Physical & Verbal Punishment

Violence against children called epidemic here and everywhere 
By Kayla Pearson  September 21, 2012
SOURCE:  http://AMCostaRica.com

There is a growing epidemic of child violence in not just Costa Rica but the world, according to a panel of lawmakers and child care experts. The suggested solutions includes regulating pornography, television programs and toys that youngsters receive.

The panel came together Thursday at the Asamblea Legislativa to discuss the effects of violence against children.  Violence was described as physical, emotional or sexual. Also included was negligence and commercial exploitation.

According to the social work director at the Hospital Nacional de Niños, Ana Virginia Quesada Morales, infant deaths have quadrupled between 2009 and 2012. 

Rodolfo Hernández Gómez, Hospital director, said that child abuse is a problem of social health and is seen everyday.  He cited the biblical account of Cain and Abel where a jealous brother killed his sibling. 

Also, he listed fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel, where a witch tried to eat two kids and Little Red Riding Hood where a wolf tried to eat a young girl visiting her grandmother. The culture extends to the television and computer.  This makes it a learned behavior, said Hernández. He urged control of pornography and toys, too,

Not coincidentally, a legislative commission has approved and sent to the full body a measure to strengthen penalties for child pornography and for displaying pornography to children.
Child violence has irreversible damage to the brain and development, said another participant.  From birth to 6 months of age, the brain is most vulnerable.  Of infants abused, 10 percent of cases result in mental disorders or cerebral paralysis, said Beatriz Cordero Huertas, director of Maestría de Estimulación Temprana at Universidad Santa Paula in Curridabat.

Later, children are left feeling alone, sad, abandoned and lose respect for authority figures, she said, adding that as adults, these children run risks of performing violent acts, being depressed, obese, fighting addiction or being suicidal, she said.

Costa Rica has a law since 2008 called Abolición del Castigo Físico Contra Niños, Niñas y Adolescentes, geared to protect children's rights.  Under the law it is illegal for children to receive punishment that is deemed excessive or humiliating. 

It also empowers the court to place mistreated children into adoptive homes.

However the law needs much work and lacks application, said Gloria Bejarano Almada, a lawmaker.

“Many things can wait.  The children, no.  Now their bones are forming, their blood is producing and their feelings are developing.  To them we cannot say tomorrow.  Their name is today,” said Ms. Cordero, the academic.

Ms. Cordero was quoting Chilean poet and activist Gabriela Mistral.  Her emphasis was the same as her colleagues, everyone must come together to change the culture of child abuse by educating the public.


How to Discipline Children WithOUT 

Physical and Verbal Punishment
Mary Serphos
Certified Health Coach and Licensed Psychotherapist

SOURCE:  http://VoiceOfNosara.com/archives/09_12/09_12_health_01.html

A 2008, report found that 65.3% of adults in Costa Rica hit their children and that 74.2% yell and resort to what is categorized as verbal and emotional abuse. During the same year, Costa Rica reformed legal articles to defend the rights of children and adolescents, requiring adults to discipline without physical punishment or verbal assault and humiliation.

By inflicting physical or verbal punishment on a child, whether by hitting, spanking, using any amount of force or by harsh verbal means, children are taught to be fearful, angry, and resentful. If we want to raise children who are successful, capable, and secure, it is critical to use nonviolent means of discipline, and adults should act as exemplary role models.
Positive Discipline
Positive discipline is a technique that defines misbehavior as an opportunity to teach new behaviors and incorporates discipline techniques that teach self-control and responsibility. For example, a statement such as "don't do that" does not explain to the child why a certain behavior is wrong. Rather, by gently teaching a child why a certain behavior is not appropriate and then providing direction and offering alternatives, we are guiding children to make responsible decisions. For younger children, toddlers and young pre-schoolers, distraction can be an effective tool in order to redirect attention to an appropriate object/toy, etc. 

For all children and adolescents, it is important to: follow through with what you say, be consistent, model appropriate behavior, be firm yet kind and fair, clearly state expectations, offer choices, reward positive behavior and provide consequences for misbehavior such as no video games, TV, dessert, etc. or assign an extra chore at home or supervised community service.
Positive Feedback, Reward and Point Systems
The Reward System: Intended as a supplement for other methods of discipline, the reward system focuses on positive behavior. For example, if your child has helped out with a chore or task such as cleaning his or her room, thank your child or comment on the good behavior.
The Point System: By giving points for good behavior and subtracting points for misbehavior, a child learns to behave better. Accumulated points are traded in for rewards. A reward may be extra one-on-one time with a parent or a special outing in which the child chooses where to go. Privileges are based on behavior, and dropping below a certain point level may cause a loss of privileges. Be aware that children need to also be taught about their choices so they aren't just engaging in the behavior for a reward.
The goal of these techniques is to offer parents and teachers proven ways to reinforce good behavior and minimize misbehavior in hopes that the vicious cycle of child abuse and neglect will be broken
The National Foundation for Children in Costa Rica (PANI) is responsible for ensuring that the law is enforced and raising awareness campaigns aimed at eradicating physical abuse. According to data from PANI, from January to June 2012, they received 47 reports of physical mistreatment and four of emotional abuse in the Nicoya regional office.
To report physical or emotional mistreatment:
1) Call 911
2) At www.pani.go.cr there is a link to report mistreatment either anonymously or personally.
3) Go to the office of PANI in Nicoya, located from the Servicentro de Nicoya 125 meters west along the main road.

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