KUALA LUMPUR – The public has been advised to stop overreacting on the proposal to make caning of children a criminal act under the proposed new Child Act, as only those who punish a child to the extent of causing harm to the child will face action.
Furthermore, hurting a child is an offence under Section 31(1)(a) of the Child Act 2001, which carries a fine not exceeding RM20,000 or a jail term of up to 10 years, or both, if convicted.
This clearly shows that any action, not only confined to caning which brings injury to a child, can be penalised.
The caning issue has caused polemic following Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim’s recent statement on the proposal to make caning a criminal act in the new Child Act to be known as the Child Act 2015 to replace the Child Act 2001.
Many have interpreted the proposal without understanding its overall content.
Some accused the government’s decision of being influenced by outside pressure, of having ignored Islamic principles, making parents criminals, undermining the family institution in Malaysia, creating a ‘big-headed’ generation and so forth.
Rohani criticised the misinterpretations and stressed that in the proposed provision by the ministry in the new Child Act, not all caning would be a criminal offence.
According to Rohani, the new bill would include detailed provision in the new legislation on acts which could cause physical or mental injury to children and what constituted caning.
From Rohani’s explanation, it is clear that a parent is not committing a crime by merely caning (to educate or discipline) a child.
In fact, in Islam, caning is justifiable but it should follow the religious guidelines.
A hadith of Prophet Muhammad SAW narrated, “instruct your children to pray when they are seven years old, and smack them (lightly if they do not pray) when they are ten.”
However, this should be done in a proper manner without torturing, hurting or leaving any scar on the child with the intention to abuse.
Well-known motivational speaker, Datuk Dr Mohd Fadzilah Kamsah said a good thing would be to encourage parents to hang the cane on the wall so that children would be afraid to commit any wrongdoing.
“The way to cane a child in Islam is to lay the child on two chairs. If the father wants to cane, the mother must be nearby to ensure that the father does not go overboard.
“The part of the body suitable for caning are the soles because, although it is painful, it does not cause any harm and is more like a form of reflexology,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
It is felt that the issue of caning has been misinterpreted and need not be blown up or politicised any further. – Bernama