Child battering, a curse of extreme poverty


It may be shocking and unimaginable in a family-oriented society such as ours but it is true.

For two consecutive days two mothers were in the news because of hurting their children, one of them had accidentally killed her one-year-old baby. The authorities took action. The blame, of course, falls on the mothers, they are supposed to love their children and not hurt them.

On Jan. 30, a mother had accidentally killed her one-year-old baby when she slapped her child because it won’t stop crying. According to the news, the baby was crying so hard and the mother did not know what else to do so she slapped her baby and the baby fell and bumped her head into something hard caused the baby’s death.

On Jan. 29, a mother was caught on camera hitting her 6 or 8 year-old daughter in public. Her playmates and other neighbors saw the incident. She was hitting and pulling her daughter’s hair prompting other neighbors to stop her. But the mother was so angry; she dragged her daughter on their way home. Barangay officials summoned the mother to the barangay hall to reprimand her for what she did. When asked what made her do that, the mother said her daughter lost their money. The said money is their budget for the whole week. If my memory is correct, she said, “Now I don’t know where to get money for our food and other needs. That’s all we have. That’s why I have done that. I was so mad.” The mother will undergo counseling, a social welfare officer from the Department of Social Welfare and Development said on TV.

The mother who accidentally killed her baby on the other hand was charged with parricide by the PNP because no one among her relatives is willing to file a case against her. She is from the province I cannot recall where.

Both mothers came from poor families. What the media failed to convey is the reason behind their action. It was saddening to think that the authorities are pointing the blame only on these mothers considering the situation of their families.

I am no expert but the mother’s duty is not only to her children but to the whole family. While fathers are providing for the family, the burden of proportioning the budget for the whole family falls on to the mothers. Mothers (and I know some fathers too) do not only manage the family’s finances, she also manages the house, her children, her husband, the menu for the week, the laundry, and her work (if she has one). Imagine a mother has to control her temper when her child throws tantrums, or when her baby is crying and she can’t figure out what’s wrong, and then she has to think about what they will eat for lunch or dinner. How can they pay the rent, the electricity, the water, the tuition fee, if their budget falls short because basic commodities are so expensive?

But what if the father has no work and there are three or more mouths to feed; three or more children to send to school? According to child’s rights advocates, the state of children reflects the state of their parents. If the parents are poor, the children are surely poor and suffer the most. Mothers carry the world on her shoulders. I am sure that these mothers are bewildered because of their difficult life; they have channeled their anger to their children.

This is not the only incident that made it to the headlines. There are many other incidents of mothers abusing their children or accidentally killing their children. The profiles of these mothers mostly are coming from poor families who are deprived of many things like social services. If these two mothers are not from poor families, have work and not carrying a big burden in life, maybe they could not have done such things.

While the society thinks that mothers are solely responsible for their children, the government on the other hand is also responsible to the people. Should social services be made available to the poor and jobs could be had, the burden of these mothers will be somehow lessened. Should the government control the price of basic commodities, these mothers would somehow afford to buy groceries for her children. Should there be jobs for the poor, then these mothers can secure the future of their children. (

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  1. “While violent families often suffer from the stresses of poverty, family violence occurs at all levels of the social class structure. Researchers have repeatedly found violent families, whether rich or poor, to be characterized by high levels of social isolation, rigid sex-role stereotyping, poor communication, and extreme inequalities in the distribution of power among family members. These characteristics are consistently noted, whether the studies are wife battering, child abuse, or abuse of the elderly.”
    -Mary Field Belenky

    “Mankind owes to the child the best it has to give.”

    Don’t lose hope. When it gets darkest the stars come out. =)

    1. Well said “Stellar”..thoroughly-researched facts constantly remind us of the horrors occurring to family members near you!

  2. A good thoughtful and relevant piece..and there is no argument to negate the connection between poverty and family violence..especially in this country and others having similar similar populations of poverty-stricken people.
    However,there are myriad other risk-factors associated with this horrific world-wide human tragedy.
    It is in so-called “developed” countries,and I especially point a finger at New Zealand for this specific comment,child abuse is way out of proportion to the prevalence of the levels of poverty in that/those country/countries.
    In fact,New Zealand has the worst REPORTED child/domestic abuse in the world!UNBELIEVABLE isn’t it. is really puzzling that a perceived “rich” country carries such shame in this area of it’s society.(N.Z.has a high cost-of-living,so pays higher wages,but it is just another country very deeply in debt,and many people in “apparently rich” lives on borrowed money and hidden debts!).
    However,there are many tens-of-thousands of disadvantaged people existing in that society..despite a very substantial social-security “support” system in place;un- employment/sickness/aged/disabilities’benefits,free hospital treatment,and subsidised medicines.The gap between the few rich and the ever-increasing number of poor is widening annually.
    The abuse of children,women(and men)is ILLEGAL in N.Z.
    There must still be a perception in many New Zealanders’ minds that it’s ok to hit kids and/or women(abused boys/men are in the minority..except in Catholic Church-related and other paedophile-ridden areas!).
    Despite the presence of an arm of the Social Welfare Department existing to address the horrific abuse statistics(stretched-to-the-limit due to work-load and low-levels of staff/AND morale due to glaring inefficiencies exposed to the Governments and the public)..the abuse continues to multiply.
    So..perhaps Pilipino kids are much better off than Kiwi kids in this particular instance

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