Indonesia - parents encourage 4-year old boy to continue smoking habit..

April 9, 2010 - Child protection services have opted not to take a 4-year-old boy from his parents in Malang, East Java, despite their encouragement of his smoking habit. Mulud Riadi, 52, and his wife Moedjiati, 41, had previously been threatened with having their son taken away to Jakarta for rehabilitation by the National Commission for Child Protection. Despite his age, the child is a chain smoker and is proficient in swearing — habits instilled in him by his parents.

The commission initially planned to place the boy under the custody of the Social Services Ministry in Jakarta for treatment. On Monday, commission head Seto Mulyadi met with Mulud and Moedjiati at their home in Malang to discuss the rehab program for their son. After a 15-minute talk, the couple refused to let the commission seek help for the boy.

Instead, they “promised” to protect the child from the negative impacts of “the surroundings”, with the help of Harianto, 23, who for some reason is regarded as the infant’s “best friend”.

Seto said the environment the boy was growing up in were not so bad that he couldn’t slowly be weaned of his habit, adding there was thus no urgent call to bring him to Jakarta. “That said, I urge everyone to change their views about the child,” he said.

“The child is the victim in this case of abuse by adults. The negative influence in his environment should also be categorized as abuse, mostly psychological.”

The boy’s case came to light with a video on YouTube showing him puffing on a cigarette. The footage has since been removed for violating the website’s rules. The boy’s parents said he began smoking when he was 19 months old, when Mulud claimed to have found him “enjoying a cigarette wrapped in a corn husk”. “When I asked him where he got the cigarette, he said someone had given it to him,” he said. “But none of the neighbors said they’d given him a cigarette.”

Mulud said the boy had since smoked regularly, and would throw a fit and start swearing when asked by his parents to stop. Seto said the case should prompt the government to immediately enforce the anti-tobacco law. “The law should provide a ban on cigarette companies from advertising in the media,” he said. “This should help reduce the number of children who take up smoking.”

He added the 4-year-old had a “normal psychological profile”.

Seto said children between the ages of 4 and 9 made up about 1.9 percent of Indonesia’s total population of smokers.

Reference: Smoking infant to stay with indulgent parents,
Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post, Malang, 4/6/2010.

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