Mon, Jan 17, 2011 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Hairdresser dedicated to helping wayward children

NEVER TOO LATE:After her daughter slit her wrists, Huang Chien-ting knew she must change, so she stopped beating her child and set about trying to help others

By Lin Hsiao-yun  /  Staff Reporter

Huang Chien-ting, right, and her daughter, Hsiao-hsing, are pictured together on Jan. 7.

Photo provided courtesy of Huang Chien-ting

“Nobody is born a good parent and parents also make mistakes. I was once a very bad mother. However, I have now become like a mother to many marginalized children and I’ve helped these children find their way back when they have been lost. This was an opportunity I was given to learn and change,” hairdresser Huang Chien-ting (黃千婷) said.

Huang admits to physically abusing her daughter, but after learning that her daughter had slit her writsts, Huang said she decided to radically change her ways and became involved as a school volunteer.

Huang was recently given an award by the Ministry of Education in recognition of her efforts to help marginalized children and she is now affectionately called by children, who had once dropped out of school or were using drugs, as “Hot Mother,” or La Ma (辣媽) in Chinese, but Huang acknowledges that she was a terrible mother 17 years ago.

She said she did not get along with her mother-in-law. In addition, her family encounter financial difficulties at the time she gave birth to her oldest daughter, Hsiao-hsing (小星), at the age of 25. She said she started to take out her frustration on Hsiao-hsing.

Whenever Hsiao-hsing misbehaved or whenever Huang had an argument with her mother-in-law, Huang said she would take whatever she had lying around from work, such as hairbrushes or hairdryers, and use it beat her daughter, often to the point where Hsiao-hsing would be left covered in bruises.

“Back then, there wasn’t Domestic Violence Act (家暴法) in place. Otherwise I would long have been locked up” Huang said, -dropping her head and sighing as she thought back on what she used to do to her daughter.

She recalled how she started abusing her daughter when Hsiao-hsing was only two and continued to beat her all the way up until she was in her first year of junior high.

Then one day Huang received a telephone call from a school councilor who told her that her daughter had tried to slit her wrists with a utility knife. Huang said that when she saw her daughter’s wrists, she lost control and almost threw a heavy chair from the hairdressing salon at her daughter.

However, over time, the scars on her daughter’s wrists would awaken Huang to her cruelty, as she had already been abusing her daughter for more than a decade.

Huang transferred her daughter to a new school and got a position as a volunteer in schools.

After attending therapy -sessions offered by schools, “I finally realized how many bad things I had done to my own daughter,” Huang said.

In a bid to atone for her wrongdoings, Huang not only stopped abusing Hsiao-hsing, she also started caring for other marginalized and disadvantaged children.

Of the children Huang now looks after, many of them are school bullies. However, based on her one-on-one experience working with such children, Huang said the majority of children who bully others were either once bullied themselves or come from dysfunctional families.

Citing the case of two young boys who lost their father at a young age, Huang said that as they lacked the propoper care and attention and ended up getting involved in gangs — until Huang started looking after them.

Huang said her help gave the boys the first bit of positive reinforcement they had experienced in their young lives.

They once both asked her: “Why do you treat us so well?” to which Huang replied: “Because my own daughter rebelled once and started hanging out with a bad crowd.”

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