Audiologist: Slapping children as punishment can lead to potential brain or ear damage

Mawuli Honu emphasised that slapping a child or delivering blows to their head can have severe consequences, including damage to the brain and ears

An audiologist and lecturer at the University of Education Winneba (UEW), Cyril Mawuli Honu, has issued a strong warning to parents and guardians, urging them to exercise restraint when disciplining their children.

Speaking on 3FM, Honu emphasised that slapping a child or delivering blows to their head can have severe consequences, including damage to the brain and ears.

Describing such acts as traumatic, Honu explained, “When it comes to babies and children, beating and slapping is what we call trauma. Depending on the severity, trauma could destroy a particular part of the ear. For instance, a slap can perforate the eardrum or disrupt the arrangement of the three bones in the ear, thereby affecting hearing.”

In addition to the potential impact on hearing,  Honu highlighted that slaps can cause tinnitus — a condition characterized by ringing or buzzing in the ears — and disturb the vestibular system, leading to issues with balance.

Honu stressed the availability of alternative disciplinary methods that do not involve physical violence. Suggestions such as implementing timeouts, using a “naughty corner,” or allowing natural consequences to occur were proposed as effective alternatives.

He emphasized that physical punishment does not always correct a child’s behaviour and can even have adverse effects.

To shed light on the lasting impact of physical punishment, Fred Atto, who communicated through a sign language interpreter during an interview on the 3FM, shared his personal experience.

Atto revealed that his father, who struggled with alcoholism, would lock him up, subject him to physical abuse, and slap him repeatedly when he acted wrongly. Over time, Atto began experiencing problems with his ears, eventually resulting in hearing loss.

Expressing his concern, Atto called on parents, guardians, teachers, and individuals to refrain from resorting to slapping children as a form of punishment. Reflecting on his own difficult journey, he emphasized, “I don’t want any child to go through my experience. It is not good. I think slapping a child, as my father did to me, causing my deafness, is not good.”

While Fred Atto currently works as a cleaner despite holding an HND in Civil Engineering, he faces communication challenges and discrimination due to his hearing impairment.

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