A controversial hidden camera TV show that aired across the Middle East has stirred controversy about whether or not parents should spank their children.
During Ramadan, the MBC series Al Sadma — Arabic for "shock" — filmed audience reactions to upsetting staged occurrences in an attempt to stir up conversation on a variety of issues.
A father is shown pulling his youngster, perhaps 8, along the street while striking and cursing at him in a recent staged scene.
Many members of the audience were outraged, and the film team had to intervene to stop one man from hitting the actor who played the father.
The series has sparked debate over whether beating a child is ever justified.
Maintain open lines of communication
"Hitting a child has never been an effective means of discipline," Younis Ibraheem, 49, said.
The father of three children, ages 20, 14, and three, believes that the technique just makes things worse for kids.
"Children would undoubtedly believe that their parents are waiting for them to make a mistake so that they might smack them," he said.
He added that children will learn better if parents provide a loving environment where healthy communication allows them to openly communicate and discuss what's on their minds.
Not a harrowing experience
Khadeejeh Jebril, one of 14 siblings, was spanked as a child but does not believe it was a painful event.
"We were all, but I don't remember why." "I mean, the things we used to do were not serious," she explained, "like destroying the house or fighting with one another."
It's not that my mother was a bad mother — far from it — but I believe she couldn't conceive of any other option because we were so numerous, she added.
Ms Jebril said that this aspect of her upbringing had had no detrimental impact on her and her siblings.
However, as a mother, she never spanks her children to rectify bad behaviour, preferring instead to talk to them.
"I can't hurt them even when I'm furious," she explained.
Children's discipline can be effective
When it comes to disciplining her children's behaviour, Jordanian mother-of-five Maha Jamal, 40, uses a mild smack.
"When I say I spank my kids to discipline them, it's not what you're thinking; it's a mild spanking on the back or bottom," she explained.
Striking children demonstrates a lack of control
Parents should not hit their children, especially younger ones, according to Hiyam Abo Mashaal, a psychologist and family therapist.
"The goal of discipline is to teach children self-control and politeness," said Ms Abo Mashaal of the Hamsa Centre for Social, Psychological, and Family Consultancy in Dubai.
Hitting doesn't accomplish that. On the contrary, it causes embarrassment to the youngster, among other things.
She claims that children learn by watching adults, particularly their parents, and that beating children shows them how parents lack self-control.
It makes kids frightened of their parents, trains them to avoid being caught, and teaches them that hitting others while furious is OK, according to her.
Child protection legislation exists
In 2016, the UAE passed Wadeema's Law, a comprehensive child protection law.
It establishes minors' legal rights in the country and safeguards children, defined as anybody under the age of 18, from all forms of abuse, whether physical, verbal, or psychological.
It does not expressly address the topic of corporal punishment, but according to a legal expert, any act of discipline that results in "physical harm" is illegal.
Recognizing good behaviour, according to the therapist, is an important aspect of discipline, and parents should not underestimate the positive impact their praise may have on their children.
"I've dealt with multiple cases where parents have smacked their children ages 7 to 11 because they didn't listen, ignored their homework, or were defiant," Ms Hiyam said.
The children grew up to be angry, reclusive, or lacking in self-esteem since their behaviour was not corrected.
"Being a part of raising children, disciplining them is a long process," Nida Al Masri, a legal consultant with Justitia Advocates and Legal Consultants, said. "It should not include any act that may cause humiliation, emotional or physical harm in order to ensure that these consequences do not lead to criminal charges as per the country's law," she added.
She further explained that they don't see many child abuse cases in the country, and the ones that occur could be avoided if parents understood the difference between discipline and abuse.