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Singapore

Boy, 6, granted personal protection order against his mother who hit him with cane and hanger

Boy, 6, granted personal protection order against his mother who hit him with cane and hanger

File photo of a child being punished. (Photo: iStock)

SINGAPORE: A family court has granted a six-year-old boy a personal protection order against his mother, after his father sought the order on his behalf.

The father alleged that the boy's adoptive mother had hit him multiple times with a cane or clothes hangers, while the mother said she was simply disciplining the child to teach him to relieve himself in the toilet.

All parties cannot be named. In his judgment, which was released on Saturday (Nov 27), Magistrate Patrick Tay Wei Sheng found that the mother's actions "went beyond the reasonable correction of the child".

He granted a personal protection order, saying that he hopes the mother will gain "an understanding of her actions" with professional support and improve her interactions with her son.

Magistrate Tay limited the personal protection order to one year and directed parties to undergo counselling with the Ministry of Social and Family Development. The mother has filed an appeal.

BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

The boy was adopted in 2015 when he was less than one year old. 

He suffers from a medical condition that affects the control of his bladder and bowels. A doctor noted in March this year that he still wets and soils himself at times.

In seeking a personal protection order for his son, the boy's adoptive father made 27 audio recordings. He claimed that his wife hit the child on multiple occasions since March 2020, doing so with increasing frequency since August 2020. 

The beatings usually took place after the boy soiled his clothes and happened almost daily, sometimes even a few times a day, he asserted.

The mother accepted that she had hit her son on the occasions captured in the 27 recordings, but denied committing family violence, saying that she administered "light caning as a form of parental guidance and correction when the child pees in his pants despite being capable of walking to the toilet to do so".

In one incident on Mar 22 last year, the child can be heard in the audio recording saying: "Can beat me softly?"

The mother responds: "Why should I beat you softly? And why do you pee pee on it, your pants all wet."

This is followed by hitting sounds, punctuated with the mother asking the boy why he could not go to the toilet.

"You pee pee on the pants, wet like, like a stupid idiot, huh? You're not a baby anymore. ... I don't beat you. It means that I'm a (hitting sound) bad mummy. (Hitting sound) if I cannot teach you to go to toilet," she continues.

The child is heard moaning, followed by his mother continuing: "Huh? What, what I'm a lousy mummy. I'm not doing my job. And (hitting sound) you have to understand that you have to go to the ...? Go where? Where you do pee? Are you an animal, a cat or dog? Just pee anywhere? ... Cats or dogs just live outside the house. Kick you outside. You like that?"

Later that day, the mother hit her child for soiling himself again, threatening to hit him "harder" when he was slow in changing out of his dirty clothes. In total, a further 46 hits were recorded, the court found.

On Jul 23, 2020, she locked herself and the child in a room where she hit him for soiling himself. Despite her husband demanding that she open the door, she kept it locked and hit him.

On Nov 20 that year, the woman threatened to hit the boy with a cane over schoolwork. When she realised that her husband had thrown her canes away, she threatened to buy more.

"Mama, why you, you beat me?" the boy can be heard asking. His mother responds: "Daddy throw, I'll beat you even harder."

PUNISHMENTS NOT COMMENSURATE WITH BOY'S AGE, ENDURANCE: MAGISTRATE

The magistrate found that the punishments, which involved up to 54 hits a time with a cane or hanger, were not commensurate with the boy's age and what he could endure. 

"It was undisputed that some of the hits had left bruises, which were photographed by the police, who had attended at the parties' residence following a complaint by the father," said Magistrate Tay.

He rejected suggestions by the mother that cries by her son to the effect of "I love you" and "I love mummy" during the punishments revealed his "acceptance and understanding of the correction".

He found that the woman had committed family violence on the child, as some of the punishments were motivated for reasons other than correcting the child for his benefit.

He also noted that the mother "tends to downplay the extent of her physical punishment of the child", denying certain things but accepting them when she saw the transcripts. She did not challenge transcripts of her telling the child: "Go sit outside in a cage. Go and be a dog, sit outside."

The magistrate found a personal protection order necessary for the protection of the child, but said he was prepared to "contemplate that the mother may, with the benefit of counselling, gain insights into her methods of correction of the child".

"The counselling may also assist her to separate the unhappiness that she may feel with the father from her relationship with the child," he said.

Source: CNA/ll(gs)

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