Child discipline is a vital part of child-rearing in all cultures. The need for child discipline is generally recognised, but considerable debate exists regarding the best methods. Corporal punishment (CP) is a dominant practice in Caribbean cultures. This qualitative study investigated community perceptions of the function, legality and boundaries of CP in child-rearing practices in Suriname, in which CP is defined as hitting a child on their buttocks or extremities using an open hand. Twelve focus group discussions were conducted with adolescent and adult community members from Creole and Maroon backgrounds, as well as with professionals working with children. ATLAS.ti (version 7.5.4), a qualitative data package, was used to conduct the analyses. This study showed how violent forms of disciplining children are widely accepted and practised in Suriname. CP is considered a necessary and respected form of disciplining children, particularly by parents. Participants know about the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child that has been ratified in Suriname, but there is a lack of knowledge about its content. Developing appropriate policy responses to violence towards children requires understanding of the perception and use of CP. Such knowledge is needed to tackle the invisibility and social acceptance of violence in child discipline. Key Practitioner Messages: Under certain circumstances, Corporal Punishment (CP) is accepted and applied in Suriname, despite growing knowledge of its harmful consequences. While participants considered the lawfulness of behaviour, they were primarily interested in the intentions of the caretakers when using CP If these were interpreted ‘in the best interest of the child’, CP was not considered maltreatment. Understanding of what motivates caregivers to use CP helps in developing appropriate policy responses in order to prevent and respond to violence towards children.
- community perceptions
- corporal punishment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health