Corporal Punishment - Parenting? or Child Abuse? Opinions Please

Today American children have more protection against physical abuse than ever before. Parents are not allowed to beat their children or leave serious injuries during punishment. And teachers are no longer allowed to use paddles, swiches, or ruler to discipline children.

However.. I fall into a camp of people demanding that the current laws are NOT enough. There is a form of abuse that can do even more long-lasting damage than physical.... psychological abuse. PS... I will not judge you if you disagree with my statements... but lets NOT turn this forum into a flame war. Please be professional everyone.

Psychological abuse includes emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and physical abuse that serves to humiliate rather than leave real physical damage.


Emotional abuse includes manipulation, guilt trips, implying or telling the child that they are evil or bad [not just that what they did was bad, but that they are a bad-natured child], telling a child they should be more like "so-and-so's" kids, humiliating a child to gain control, threatening a child with severe physical or emotional abuse that you don't plan to carry out to scare them and "keep them in line." An example of this was experienced by a friend of mine. "If you don't get your room cleaned up, you will sleep in the basement with the spiders." This was a direct malicious attack because the parent KNEW that my friend was aracniphobic and the basement was unfinished and not lacking in spiders.


Verbal abuse includes calling your child swear words or words meant to demean and lower self esteem:

girls - bitch, whore, slut, witch, hag, porker [male or female], fatass [male or female], etc.

Boys - sissy, candyass, son of a bitch [insulting to the mother as well], fag/ faggot, dick, etc.


Physical EMOTIONAL abuse includes:

Slapping, Spanking, Paddling, Using a Belt on Buttocks, slaping buttocks, hitting with newspaper, throwing objects at child, etc.


I have not had a child myself but I have wittnessed the struggles my parents went through to raise children, so I know that raising children is hard... but I think that that does NOT justify behavior like the outlined above. I personally want these behaviors to be outlawed... starting with corporal punishment [physical emotional abuse].


What do you guys think?

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I'm with Konrad Lorenz on this topic. Children will want to find their place within the family hierarchy, and in the process they will try to force their will on others and try to find out how far they can go, when they need to obey their parents will and when they don't. As Lorenz put it, there is a period when they 'beg for a slap'. They try to find out wether you've got the balls or not.


So, I will follow this procedure. Logical explanation first, then orders, if the kid disobeys, then threat (If you do this once more, I will spank you - I think it's important to stay perfectly calm), if he keeps disobeying, then spanking.


I do hope that my reasoning skills will be good enough to keep my kids oriented and help them find their place, but if they ever test me if I dare to slap them, the answer will be yes.

I agree with much of what you on have to say on principle however unless you've raised children there is no way of knowing whether you are even capable of keeping your cool and always doing the right thing and kids can be awful, they can throw tantrums all afternoon and can be outright mean at times.  When I first got pregnant, I said I'd never spank my kids but despite my better judgement I've spanked them a handful of times.  Generally the situations seemed to warrant a spanking, like when my kids would be abusing the animals repeatedly or if they pulled away from my hand in a parking lot. All of these incidents were with my children as toddlers, I haven't spanked my ten year old for six years but I do yell at her at times.  I get angry, we all do and it's not that easy.  I like to think we're all humans and have our limitations. I've made idle threats as well, for example I've lost my cool and said to my daughter after asking nicely several times "If you hit the cat with that toy one more time I'm going to take away all your toys!"  I of course had no intention of getting rid of all her toys but it worked, she stopped immediately and sometimes threatening with or using time-outs doesn't stop the behavior.  Witnessing the struggles of parents does NOT make you an expert and outlawing spanking or yelling at kids will do one thing, it will make most parents criminals.  Not fair.
Alright, I had to come back and correct myself!  In hindsight I agree wholeheartedly that my threatening to take away all my daughter's toys in frustration was indeed wrong HOWEVER I would not take someone's child away for an idle threat make in anger.  We all get angry and say things we don't mean, being a parent is one of the hardest things to do.
I think you do not have children yourself.  I know you said this, but I just want you to know that it's abundantly apparent.  You cannot reason with a toddler - they lack the mental faculties for reason.  A whack on the bum is often the only way for them to associate negative behavior with negative consequences.  As far as I've seen, children that grow up without learning to associate negative behavior with negative consequences turn out to be veritable sociopaths.  I think that verbal/emotional abuse is terrible and it doesn't promote better behavior.  Corporal punishment, however, helps to initiate the moral development of a toddler when it is applied in such a fashion as to create the appropriate associations.

So if you cannot reason with someone, torture them? Should we apply the same tactic to religious adults, who seem to be just as immune to reason?

First off, comparing a whack on the bum with torture completely discredits your stance, but I'll try to ignore that.  Religious or not, if a person lacks the mental capacity to understand that writing on my wall with a permanent marker is wrong, then yes, I think I would resort to a whack on the bum to see if that might work.  And as far as adults who write on the wall with permanent marker go - I think the technique might be the best course of action.

If a person lacks the mental capacity to understand that writing on your wall is wrong what makes you think they have the mental capacity to understand that the spanking they are receiving is punishment for writing on the wall? A child this young needs to be told no firmly and re-directed to a more appropriate activity not spanked. Spanking causes the child's stress hormones to rise, when stress hormones are elevated people of all ages cannot think very clearly or learn very well. A young child who is being spanked is going to be especially affected by the elevation of stress hormones because they are still learning to control and regulate their emotions.


That being said an open palmed swat on the behind once in a while isn't going to mentally damage a person for life... I just don't think spanking is particularly useful or the best way to discipline a child.



Plenty of my friends had the exact same view until they had children.  We all talked about a spank free childhood and how a good firm no should be all that was required.  One couple I know actually got through that way with their first child, and she was so tender hearted that they even had to be careful how firm the 'no' was.  The second, however, actually got to the point where she laughed when they barked out a sharp 'no'.  In most cases, it just doesn't work.  I'm glad if it worked with your children.

Iam a Pre-K teacher I know how to get good results from a variety of personalities without spanking in fact I do not have the choice to spank a child regardless of how violent or out of control their behavior is. Just because you don't spank a child doesn't mean they will become especially tender or sensitive. (Most of the tender and especially sensitive children I have worked with their tenderness and sensitivity seems to be innate in their personality not a result of the parenting they've received.)  Most (at least 75%) of the children I work with have never been disciplined by spanking and they certainly as a whole are not especially tender or sensitive to someone using a harsh tone of voice telling them to knock it off now or else.


My response to you regarded children too young (like 2 years and younger) to recognize that writing on the wall isn't ok. Young children respond to different parenting techniques then older children. With an older child (3+) simply barking no at them and redirecting them is of course not going to work... taking away a privilege, a toy, or having them clean up the mess ect is going to work for most children out there.


I had one girl 3 1/2 who thought it was funny to pour her milk on the floor, she stopped thinking it was so funny when we handed her the rag one day and said this needs to be cleaned up before you go outside to play. She spent 15 minutes trying to tell us she couldn't clean up the mess and when she realized we were sticking to our guns it took her 2 minutes to clean up the mess and it was a rather long time before she tried that again. (Her mother also informed us that once she tried this tactic at home her daughter stopped pouring her milk on the floor every day at home too.)

This is a really good article on spanking:

I can't really argue with that article.  As I've said, the 'no spank' philosophy is a great idea where it works.  I guess what I'm saying more than anything is that spanking can be a useful tool, but obviously spanking infants is wrong, or with children who are old enough to discuss the incident with (over 4 or 5) it may be harmful and is unlikely to be useful.


I still see it as a necessary option in many cases.  Further, those who are quick to judge a mother who spanks her child should be even quicker to jump in and offer some support with the child rearing rather than rapid fire condemnation.

Well I wasn't suggesting that my friends' daughter was tender hearted because she was never spanked - I was just pointing out that she was innately different than her younger sister and it took just a firm no to get her to stop.  I've volunteered with kids of various ages, and spanking them isn't an option in that situation either.  I've seen results all over the board but have seen few children from 'no spank' homes that were fit to interact with a group without causing havoc.  I think the 'no spank' concept is great when it works, it just seems to be a rare success from what I've witnessed.


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