LAW GOVERNING PHYSICAL CHILD ABUSE IN MALAYSIA According to Longman, Dictionary of Contemporary English (2003), physical child abuse can be defined as an adult’s physical act of aggression directed at a child that causes injury or even death. Even if the adult did not intend to injure the child, it also can be classified under physical child abuse. The acts of aggression include striking a child with the hand, fist, or foot or with an object; burning the child with a hot object; shaking, pushing, or throwing a child; pinching or biting the child; and pulling the child by their hair.
Sometimes, this term is misleading with corporal punishment. Corporal punishment is a use of physical force with the intent of inflicting bodily pain, but not injury. So there is a big difference between these two terms. According to Dr. Irene Cheah, head of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) Pediatric Unit, physical child abuse is caused by; firstly, a person’s inability to control their anger or frustration. This loss of control is usually caused by factors that have nothing to do with the child, such as job or personal stresses, loneliness, depression, lack of support system, psychiatric disorders, or substance abuse.
Secondly, a child that is difficult to control because of a behavioral disorder or physical disability. This is because the parents are not equipped to handle this type of child. The third cause would be a person with alcohol abuse or drug addiction. This type of person usually abusing their child when they are under alcohol or drug’s influence. The Malaysian Government has demonstrated a commitment to children’s rights and welfare. In October 2000, the Parliament implemented Child Act 2001. The Act deals with children under the age of eighteen who are in need of care, protection or rehabilitation.
Under section 17(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, a child is defined as in need of care and protection if, “the child has been or if there is substantial risk that the child will be physically injured or emotionally injured or sexually abused by his parent or guardian or member of his extended family. ” So, it means that if an adult who is supposed to be taking care of the child or his or her extended family, abuses a child physically, emotionally or sexually, he or she can be charged for an offence under the Act.
This is covered under Section 31 of Child Act 2001 which sets the punishment for ill treatment, neglect, abandonment or exposure of children to a maximum fine of RM20, 000. 00 or imprisonment for a maximum of ten years or both. In addition, The Act also mandates a member of the family and/or a doctor to inform the Authorities if they suspect that a child is being abused. Failing to do so, the person may be liable to a maximum fine of RM5, 000. 00 or imprisonment for a maximum of two years or both.
As I mentioned above, it can be clearly seen that the punishments for physical child abuse is a maximum fine of RM20, 000. 00 or imprisonment for a maximum of ten years or both. As a concerned student, I believe that the punishments should be harsher. This is due to the increasing number of child abuse cases in our country every year. The Welfare Department reported that in the year of 2006 there were more than 1999 reported cases of child abuse. First and foremost, the punishments for physical child abuse should be harsher because it will create public awareness.
In my opinion, the Government should add public canning in the existing punishments. This punishment functions as to make people scare to abuse their child because they had seen how the punishment has been conducted in a real life situation. By doing this, I strongly believe that the cases of child abuse will decrease. Secondly, the abusers will learn their lessons when they received harder punishments. A study conducted by a group of psychologists showed that the harder punishment a person received, he or she will think twice to do the same mistake again.
It means that there is a high percentage for the abusers to not abuse their child anymore after received the appropriate penalties. So, there will be less cases of child abuse every year. Last but definitely not least, the punishments should be harsher for the sake of the child. The Act should reach its objective which is to protect the children from any misconduct. From the statistic that has been reported by The Ministry of National Unity and Social Development, it showed that the current punishments still not enough to secure the child’s safety nd welfare. This statistic is a proved that the current punishments still not enough. So the children will be more protected from any harm if the abusers receive harder punishments. In a nutshell, the Malaysian government should revise the existing act which is Child Act 2001. The above reasons showed why there is a need to revise the Act. Lastly, we, the community should play active roles to help in protecting the child’s safety, health and welfare.