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Dear This Morning - Child Abuse Is Not Discipline

I understand parenting is one of the hardest jobs we have, teenagers in particular can drive us to despair but whatever a child does they never deserve to be physically manhandled - ever!

Since when did we decide child abuse and discipline are the same?

I, like many, was totally shocked at the video making its way around Facebook (for the second time) featuring a distraught young girl having her hair shaved because apparently she "bullied" a person suffering from cancer because they had no hair. I didn't share and chose not to talk about it for one reason and one reason alone: as an ex-police officer one phrase would come to mind - child abuse. I for one don't want to be someone who shares a child's abuse. Let me repeat that, I don't want to be the one who shares a child's abuse on video.

Imagine my surprise when a good friend and champion of women, Jacqueline Hooton, sent me a message alerting me to how This Morning were using this video as part of a feature around how you discipline an obnoxious child.

Jacqueline said: "I was horrified to see This Morning share this video to their huge audience and link it in any way to an item on disciplining children.

"The video shows an adult exerting their considerable authority and power over a child. The clear aim of this punishment to humiliate and frighten the child, compounded by another person filming the event with the intention of distributing the disturbing content to a wider audience."

I mean, were we both crazy to think that a parent holding a child down and shaving their head while the child is screaming is a NOT a form of discipline but actually child abuse?

All comments taken off This Morning Facebook Page

Do we turn a blind eye to child abuse when we use it together with the word discipline? It seems perhaps we do, with lots of comments from the public seemingly in favour of this torture inflicted on this young girl because she "deserved it". For me, it's most likely the same people who agree that by wearing a short skirt you are "asking for it".

This kind of abuse in this video will damage this girl forever and any form of abuse on a child by a parent is, in my mind, inexcusable.

Chris Tuck, founder and director of Survivors of Abuse, agrees.

"The emotional trauma this child has been put through with having her hair shaved in such a violent manner and it then it being on social media and then national media will be soul-destroying," he said. "I know she should never have bullied the child with cancer in the first place; it's not acceptable, but this form of discipline is not right. When I watched it by mistake I thought the girl was being abused so I was ready to report it to the police. It made me cry. In my opinion this video is not about discipline, it is clearly a form of power and control and making that child fearful of the parent."

If you look up the word discipline it is about training others to behave within rules and norms. Child abuse is physical maltreatment of a child. Holding a child down and shaving their head is physical maltreatment in my book, as it should be in anyone's.

I understand parenting is one of the hardest jobs we have, teenagers in particular can drive us to despair but whatever a child does they never deserve to be physically manhandled - ever! This is not teaching your child anything other than violence and maltreatment is what you do when you don't like what another does. This is not discipline.

Chris went on to say: "If I caught my child picking on or abusing a child who had cancer I would have a meaningful conversation with them. Why are you doing that, do you know what you are doing is bullying? How do you think that impacts on that child?

"I would take my child to a cancer ward and educate them about the realities of living with cancer. Shaving my child's head in an abusive manner as shown in this video is not educational. It is a form of bullying in itself.

"It will either destroy the child's self-esteem or it will make them so angry and resentful that they may become a bigger bully in the future. We have to lead by example and educate and apologise for the mistakes we make in life. Treating violence with violence is never the answer"

Child abuse is the responsibility of all of us. Keeping quiet and condoning this sort of behaviour is inexcusable, and using it to support a feature on discipline on national television is irresponsible.

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