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Court issues personal protection order to stop adoptive mother beating 6-year-old boy for soiling himself

SINGAPORE — A family court has issued a personal protection order to prevent an adoptive mother from physically abusing her six-year-old son under the pretext of discipline to stop him soiling himself. The boy’s adoptive father applied for the order on the boy’s behalf.

Court issues personal protection order to stop adoptive mother beating 6-year-old boy for soiling himself

Magistrate Patrick Tay Wei Sheng found that a woman's treatment of her adoptive six-year-old son amounted to family violence.

  • A six-year-old boy’s adoptive father applied for a personal protection order on behalf of his son
  • He claimed that his wife had hit the child on multiple occasions since March 13 , 2020
  • She had done so with increasing frequency since August that year
  • The woman said she administered "light caning" as a form of parental guidance and correction when her son soiled himself
  • The boy suffers from a medical condition that affects his control of his bladder and bowels

 

SINGAPORE — A family court has issued a personal protection order to prevent an adoptive mother from physically abusing her six-year-old son under the pretext of discipline to stop him soiling himself. The boy’s adoptive father applied for the order on the boy’s behalf.

The court heard that the woman used a cane and clothes hanger to hit the boy repeatedly. The father made 27 audio recordings of the abuse, which included one occasion when the woman hit the boy 54 times and called him a “stupid idiot” and a “dog" as he pleaded with her saying, “Can beat me softly?”

In her defence, the mother stated that she had simply been disciplining the child to teach him to relieve himself in the toilet.

The boy suffers from a medical condition that affects bladder and bowel control.

In a judgement released on Saturday (Nov 27), Magistrate Patrick Tay Wei Sheng found that the woman’s treatment of the boy constituted family violence because it fell outside the “correction exception” where parents may use discipline including some corporal punishment to correct misbehaviour.

None of the parties in the judgement was named.

In granting the personal protection order, which expires on Aug 23 next year, Magistrate Tay said that he found the actions of the mother “went beyond the reasonable correction of the child” and ordered the parties to undergo counselling with the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

The mother has filed an appeal against Magistrate Tay’s decision.

ALMOST DAILY BEATINGS

The judgement stated that the couple, who are still married, adopted the boy in 2015 when he was under one year of age.

The events that form the basis of Magistrate Tay’s judgement occurred between March 13 last year and Jan 16 this year when the boy was around five or six years of age.

The father, Magistrate Tay said, claimed that the mother had hit the child on multiple occasions since March 13 last year and she had done so with increasing frequency since August that year.

The man further claimed that these occasions were “almost daily, sometimes even a few times a day”, and typically followed the child soiling his clothes.

In addition to the 27 audio recordings, there were other occasions when she hit the boy that he did not record.

The mother did not deny that she had hit the child on the occasions captured in the recordings, but she denied committing family violence at any time.

“She states that she had simply 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’,” the magistrate said.

‘WHY SHOULD I BEAT YOU SOFTLY?’

In one of the incidents, on the afternoon of March 22 last year, a total of 54 hits were recorded on audio.

The transcript of the audio recordings also showed that the child had asked his mother to “beat me softly” when she became angry at the boy soiling himself.

The mother responded by saying: “Why should I beat you softly?”

Several sounds of the mother hitting the boy were recorded as she repeatedly asked why he could not relieve himself in the toilet.

The boy responded that he did, only to be beaten again many times.

At some point, the mother was heard to have said: “(If) I don't beat you, it means that I'm a [hitting sounds] bad mummy, [hitting sounds] if l cannot teach you to go to toilet.’’

The woman also called the child a “stupid idiot” and “animal, a cat or dog”, and threatened to “kick (the boy) outside”.

On July 23 last year, the woman locked herself in a room with the child, where she hit him for soiling himself. Her husband demanded that she open the door, but she refused.

Not all incidents were a result of the boy soiling himself.

In one instance on Nov 20 last year, it was because the boy’s father had thrown away the canes that she was using to hit the boy.

When the boy asked asked his mother why she hit him, she replied: “Daddy throw (out the canes), I'll beat you even harder.”

There were also several occasions when the woman threatened to take the boy to his “godpa” — the woman’s younger brother, whose caning she said were “more painful” than hers.

While it was not established if this godfather had physically hit the child, Magistrate Tay said the court was of the view that even if he had not, both the mother and the child had contemplated that this godfather would do so.

“On at least two occasions, the mother had threatened the child with a caning by godpa and left the child in no doubt that godpa had a ‘more painful’ cane than her,” the magistrate said.

The boy’s father also asserted that his son was humiliated at his sixth birthday party on Nov 21 last year, which was attended by the boy’s maternal relatives.

He alleged that his wife had openly criticised their son, his schoolwork and inability to control his bladder, among others.

Other claims included that his wife got her older brother, who worked in the military, to “scare our son into straightening up”.

He then claimed that his brother-in-law had the child bend over a coffee table and “demonstrated how he could cane him, though he did not actually cane him”.

Magistrate Tay said although the mother admitted that she told her relatives that her son was “still not totally toilet trained”, she denied the allegations levelled against her older brother.

She asserted that “nobody intimidated my son as he is well-loved” by her relatives.

HER WORDS REVEALED A MEANNESS

Magistrate Tay said that the woman’s contemptuous utterances “reveal a meanness” at odds with a desire to correct the child for his benefit.

“Ultimately, even if the mother did not mean what she said literally, her utterances tell of her reasons for hitting the child: Less correction than contempt, and less discipline than denigration.”

He added that he also did not accept any suggestions by the mother that cries by the child to the effect of “I love you” and “I love mummy” during the punishments revealed his acceptance and understanding of the correction.

On the mother hitting the child because her husband had discarded her canes, Magistrate Tay said that her reason was “wholly unrelated to any behaviour by the child”.

“I conclude that at least some of the punishments were motivated primarily by reasons other than the correction of the child for his benefit.” 

However, Magistrate Tay 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 added.

Related topics

court family domestic violence personal protection order child abuse

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