One fateful day, a few years ago, 14-year old Biswadip Bhattacharya was beaten to death by his father Dipak Bhattacharya. Further inquiries revealed that the young boy had endured routine physical violence and other unimaginable atrocities at the hands of his parent. In fact, a statement made by Biswadip's aggrieved mother, that her son's death was the most merciful release from his nightmarish life, reveals the enormity of the tragedy. It also brings to the forefront the hidden issue of parental violence and its grave consequences.

Vulnerable targets

The reasons for parental bestiality can assume various disguises. But attacking the defenceless being the safest form of outlet, is the by-word. Some parents may argue that it is a technique to 'discipline'; they may be under the misconception that children who are beaten grow up to be thick-skinned adults capable of tackling the mightiest of challenges. They may say it to teach their offspring social etiquette. There could be explanations like the drive to fulfil their own ambitions through their wards, marital strife, financial strains, and repressed work-place angst et al. There are often cases where an abusive parent may suffer from a latent or undiagnosed mental disorder, making them susceptible to mood-swings and such violence.

It is noteworthy, that in India, there are statutes and organisations to protect everyone and everything - animals, women against domestic violence by husband or in-laws and dowry harassment, underprivileged children, street children, dams, rivers, trees, turtles, the environment and rightly so. But there is no one to pick the cudgels on behalf of children who may be vulnerable targets of abusive parents. Such children are the most hapless and unfortunate of sufferers.

Negative effects

Other family members like grand-parents and close relatives often remain mute witnesses to such spectacles of cruelty and display uneasiness and reluctance to interfere. 'We cannot do any-thing, he/ she is their child'. The plight is worse if the victim is an only child without the support of even a sibling. Children open to such savagery sometimes face irreversible negative effects. Domestic abuse has harmful health connotations like stress disorders (anxiety neurosis, obsessive compulsive disorders, etc.,) or even psychotic illnesses like the multiple-personality disorder. Hurt children may also turn to causeless rebellion, develop self-destructive traits, resort to vandalism, do drugs or veer towards alcoholism.

The plight of such children is moving for there is often a lot of love for parents mingled with their bitterness. Such colossal problems can be prevented if parents spare the rod.

It does not necessarily mean spoiling the child. Parents must have faith that they will rear their children to be fine adults, without resorting to violence. They can lead and guide by being good role-models for their young. They should instil solid values and practise what they preach. They should consider children individual entities with their own quaint personalities, not always as reflections of themselves.

More In: Open Page | Opinion