Family Tragedy and Communication
by Edward Ma

[December 13, 2002]


Online Notes
Family Violence & Communication
Requires: Adobe Reader

In order to prevent frequent family tragedies, Asian American / Asian Research Institute, City University of New York invited Edward Ma, Psychotherapist to give a lecture on “Family Violence and Dialogue” on 12/13 Friday. Discussion was followed by participants including professors and students of CUNY, New York University, concerned professionals and parents.

With 30 years of clinical experience, Edward Ma emphasizes that many Chinese immigrant parents tend to work long hours, 6 or 7 days a week without adequate rest. They can be easily overwhelmed physically and emotionally. They deny their feelings, neglect spouse and children by being less interactive, loving and chatting with them. Gradually, their judgment could be impaired. Some parents may become unaware of their self-destructive behavior, causing child abuse, domestic violence, and even tragedies.

Case 1: Two years ago, Connie Leong, an excellent 17 year old high school student murdered her two parents in Manhattan with the assistance of her unemployed African-American 20 year old boyfriend, because they objected to her relationship with him. The bodies were dumped into the East River and were later recovered. The case is still pending as Connie denies have any part in the crime, though her boyfriend has confessed.

Case 2: About 1 years ago, a divorced postman, Ku-Ching Lin shot his two sons, 24 and 26, in Brooklyn because they failed to return to him the borrowed sum of $2,000. Both sons refused to appear in court against their father.

Case 3: About a year ago, Chien-Ching Tsao was shot dead by policemen in Kalamazoo, Michigan as he refused to let his 8 year old step-daughter taken away by child care workers because of his suspicious sexual abuse. Problems started when Mr. Tsao applied medicated cream to his urinary infected daughter who accidentally revealed in sex education class about what happened at home, the previous night.

Case 4: Edward Chen shot his parents and elder brother dead in 1995 in Fairfax County, Virginia, a suburban area of Washington, D.C., because they objected to his marriage with an unmarried Caucasian single parent. The case was reported by his ex-wife Mandy, 7 years later, for fear of his retaliation. On 12/09/02, the court sentenced him to 3 years and one month in jail.

All of the above gruesome tragedies could have been prevented if counseling was sought according to Edward Ma. He points out that the best asset parents can give to their children is to help them develop sound judgment, the difference between right and wrong, which is more precious than anything else. Mr. Ma stresses that the best time for dialogue between parents and their child is after school, before or after supper. The daily dialogue should be conducted interactively in two ways, instead of only one way. Through chatting, parents are able to learn what happens in school, and grow together with their children. Family isolation means family tension, and family participation in school or community activities can be healing, recreational and educational. Professionals should give regular community meetings for parents to discuss children and other matters.

As a community advocate, Edward Ma points out that the best way to prevent family violence and tragedy on the whole is to foster healthy families though community support and healing. “It takes a village to raise a child,” and it takes a village to heal a family, too. Three tasks are needed: 1. Mental health professionals and grass roots must participate in school or community meetings and activities to practice democracy for equality and self-discipline. 2. Community groups must share, connect and coordinate with each other. 3. Everyone must register and vote to elect legislators as spokesperson for Asian community in order to decrease discrimination in school, employment, housing and conducting business. All of these combined would create a profound healing impact on our families and community.

Translated from Sing Tao Daily / Ming Pao Daily News (December 18, 2002)





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