A mother who inflicted severe bruising on her nine-year-old son with a cane and then maintained she had done nothing wrong was told by a magistrate yesterday she was an unfit mother. 'People need a driving licence to drive. If parents also needed a licence to bring up their son, you would fail,' John Brennan told the housewife, 28. She admitted assaulting the boy, causing him actual bodily harm. The woman received an 18-month probation order requiring her to attend an intensive counselling programme. She was warned she would be in breach of the order if she hit him again. Eastern Court heard the mother caned her son in December last year with a bunch of four rattan sticks. The mother had told her nine-year-old son to take his clothes off before beating him at their Cheung Sha Wan home on December 16, the court heard. 'Just look at the bruises on the back of your son,' said Mr Brennan. 'Children need love, care and encouragement, not violence.' A senior probation officer's report said the mother maintained she 'never did anything wrong'. The boy was thrashed after his mother discovered he had tried to forge her signature in his homework book after receiving poor results at school, the report said. Mr Brennan said the probation officer had described the woman as self-centred. The boy had been the centre of frequent arguments with her husband. The verdict came one day after a group revealed statistics showing reports of child abuse had soared by 70 per cent in the past two years.