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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All the problems in books are worst case scenarios.  There is no way every single researcher has asked every single question to every single parent and child.  I know, because I haven't been asked.  I was spanked, though rarely, as a child and I feel I am well adjusted.  I do not hate my parents for parenting me.  I do not suffer from mental problems such as agoraphobia, and there are no panic attacks.  The only hair pulling I do is figurative.


I have 3 kids of my own, and a nephew I am raising.  They are all within a few years of each other.  The oldest (nephew and daughter) are 6.  They will both be 7 in April.  My middle son is 5, he will be 6 in March.  The baby is 2, he will be 3 next month.  Do you think there is ever a quiet moment if I do not demand it?  Nooo.  But, I am not complaining.  I love them all very much and am quite proud of all of them.  Do they drive me absolutely insane?  Of course!  Do I spank them?  Daily, it seems.  Am I breaking bones, leaving bruises, or causing them to bleed?  No.  Do I yell?  I have to if I want to be heard.  Do I scream?  Occasionally.   Do I need someone telling me that I am doing it all wrong?  Nope!


Every child is different, and what works for one wont necessarily work for the next.  For example:  My daughter will behave better when I tell her that what she has done has really upset me.  I let her know that I am disappointed and we talk about what can be done to make it better.  But, I suppose thats bad, because I am guilt tripping her?

My middle son, besides being on the autism spectrum, also has sensory processing disorders.  He actually NEEDS to be smacked around a bit, and will ask me to spank him at times when he is NOT in trouble.  Do they teach you about that?  He has a bunch of other letters added on or suspected in his diagnosis, and not one of them is because I smacked him.  I cannot reason with him.  There is no such thing as a discussion with him.  What is the suggestion for this child?  Because I have tried it all.  And as any PARENT will tell you, especially with one on the spectrum, you find something that works, and you stick with it.

The youngest, I tell him I will smack him if he doesn't do (or does again) something.  He knows I will follow through with that.  He doesnt like getting his bottom smacked, so he behaves.

My nephew... yup, I even smack and yell at him.  My brother (his dad) knows this, and is actually harder on all the kids than I am. 


The point is, it is up to the parents to decide how best to handle their children.  And by handling them, I dont mean letting them run through the store screaming their spoiled asses off because they arent getting something.  I believe the world would be a better place if parents would smack their kids a few times here and there.  Kids have no fear of consequences anymore.  And I blame the parents.  And the people without kids making all the rules on how to raise kids. 


O how i agree with everything you have said :) I would say All, but unfortunatley I must say Most, Most parents love their children unconditionally. Everything we do is to help them understand their boundaries and to help them become the best adults they can be. That's our job as parents :)

:)  Yes, most parents do.  And it is unfortunate that the ones who dont are the ones who make it in the textbooks.

I'm pre-k teacher. Because I'm a teacher I cannot under any circumstances give any child a swat on the behind and have had to come up with other sometimes pretty creative ways of dealing with undesired/unacceptable behavior. Of course abuse of any type is never warranted in any situation with a child but I sometimes think that people go a little too far in labeling things abuse. I recently had a parent accuse the staff in my classroom (she wouldn't point out who specifically) of abusing her child because one or more of us raised our voices while disciplining him. An open palmed swat on the behind of child who is 2 or older isn't something I generally worry about and at least in my state (Oregon) isn't considered child abuse.


I was spanked as a child. I don't really think it did much good (usually it just made me more angry at my parents) but it didn't scar me for life either. I understand why my parents felt they needed to resort to that. I certainly won't abuse my child and I highly doubt I'll ever resort to spankings. Spanking isn't an effective punishment prior to maybe 3 years old anyways because child development/psychology studies show that children under 3 aren't necessarily capable of understanding that they are being spanked because they drew on the wall for example. A better punishment in this example is to make them clean it up. The children who I see who have generally "good"/appropriate/acceptable behavior for their age are the ones who have parents who:

- are loving.

- are firm.

- are understanding.

- are consistent.

- take the time to explain in terms their kid can understand.

- never give an empty threat. (If you tell your child if they throw their food they will have to clean it up then you better make them clean it up the nest time they throw food).

- never give their child a choice when they aren't willing to accept what the child actually chooses. (I have parents who at the end of the day instead of saying, "It's time to go now" they say "would you like to leave?" then wonder why their child throws a fit when they finally after struggling make their child leave.)


As for laws... well I don't think we need to make a law against spanking and I feel that the laws in my state are adequate. What needs improvement is the system that deals with child abuse issues especially on the prevention and community education end of it. I really think that a child development and rearing class should be mandatory in high school since most people eventually have a child and that community education programs of child development and rearing should be offered free of charge.

Wow keely,,, This brought tears to my eyes.......


No child should ever have to go through these things.... 


Thank You for sharing

Brings back memories.  


It put me in a trance reading it.  

A support group for both abused women and children on this site seems like an excellent idea.
I agree with the original post 100%. There is evidence that emotional abuse can be even more harmful to a child's long-term development than physical abuse.

My experience:

I was never a bad child. The worst things I did were wetting the bed, or talking too much, or "talking back", as my dad always put it.

For these, I was:

-hit once with a glass salt shaker, via dad throwing it at my head from across the table, for the crime of "making too much noise while eating" and "eating with my mouth open"

-hit with a remote control(he is always at the tv, in front of it, watching it, anything from Maury to the mexican porn channel we have), for the crime of "eating with my mouth open" and "using the word 'delicious' too much"

- guilt-tripped--told that they never had what I had and other fathers would rape, molest, etc, their child and that I should be thankful for what I have--I was made several times to read about the lives of such children.

-beaten heavily for bed-wetting and made to wear a diaper constantly because I told my parents. Eventually I stopped telling them, but this was an ongoing problem for me as a child, and I learned to hide my problems at an early age.

- I loved books, and was once punished with beating for staying up too late to read them.

- Whenever I wanted something or mentioned something they didn't like, I would be threatened with punishment or threatened with being kicked out, or screamed at for hours(I don' yelled at. At all.), once this was over validating something with snopes, another time this was over something as simple as correcting the spelling of a word.(this happened more and more often, the older I was)

-I have been threatened with beatings and been verbally abused for not being utterly THRILLED with horrible, stupid gifts from my father's family. When I was simply truthful about them. "Thank you, but I don't know how I'll ever use this." For a massive ceramic angel, for a sweater that was too small and disgusting, for a broken digital photo frame.

-My sister was "the trouble maker of the family", and I would get punished for things she did, and parents would often threaten us both with beatings if someone did not come forward. In effort to at least get this over with(my sister would NEVER admit to it), I would often step forward and say I did it, then later admit the truth(which got me another beating) Times this happened(that I remember):

+sister drew a smiley face in toothpaste on the mirror. I could reach it(tallest), so it was my fault.

+sister ruined my mother's makeup collection, it was assumed she didn't like makeup.

+sister wasted food--by dumping her plate in the trash--it was later blamed on me.

+sister would put food she didn't want on my plate, and then I would later be punished for not finishing my meal.

+sister would steal things---usually small things, candy, envelopes from the greeting card aisle, and later claim that I had told her to take them--I've never stolen in my LIFE.

+ sister liked to talk at lot---she would keep talking late at night, especially when we had to share a bed in a single room apartment, and although I would tell her to go to sleep--my parents would simply punish us both, usually with beatings. This happened lots of times, and always, I was punished, whether I talked or not.

+sister would claim that something of mine was hers--a recorder I had once, comes to mind, it was a stupid, plastic thing, but she went to the people who ran the daycare we were both imprisoned at daily, and claimed I had stolen it from her--they took it from me, gave it to her, and later told my parents I'd been stealing. I was punished, and my sister realized this worked for a lot of things--and would do it again and again, for things like crayons, etc.

-Some of the few times when it was her fault, she would simply overreact to end the beating---I'm not judging, but this is how she -dealt- with my father, once she threw herself to the tile floor to seriously hurt herself. Another time she made herself vomit. It worked--he stopped. Although he would then get angry at me for no reason.


-Dad once made us go to bed at 6pm on a whim. My sister and I couldn't get to sleep that early. We were punished.

-Dad would watch skinemax late at night in the one-room apartment, late into 2am or otherwise--my sister and I both have a history of doing things in our sleep, namely turning off the alarm clock, and so, when we had to get up at 5am for school, we would often miss the bus for school, and get punished heavily for that.

-Dad has repeatedly attempted to punish my sister and I for not having the same sleep schedule as him. This includes: taking away my keys, taking away my laptop(only line to the outside world--I never leave the house, I have no friends within hours of driving), taking away my money, threatening to make me clean "until your fingernails bleed", threatening me with beatings, threatening me with being made to sleep outside(when it was cold, raining, or we'd recently spotted a pack of coyotes or wild boars outside), being threatened with being woken up at 4:23am(when he gets up to watch tv in the mornings) so we could go with him and basically be subject to his asinine friends, who have before, commented on my "fugly" appearance and general unlikeability.


Verbal Abuse:

-my sister and I both have been called:

Whore, Slut, Bitch, Fatass, Ugly, Ugly Fat Cow, Fat Cow, Henhouse, Spoiled Fat Brat, Ugly children, Ugly brats,  Spoiled Ugly Brats, Dumbass, and various -allusions to how ugly I am, made, dad comparing me to pictures of "ugly" people on tv, me being called a "short bus special", and others I'm just forgetting--there's a long list.


I've worked hard to forget my childhood. It gave me the complex of fearing people, of hating adults, and of generally being afraid of the world.

I was never a BAD KID, though, and giving parents the power to do this--and making teachers or other adults powerless to stop it---my mom was always so worried about the ramifications--that we'd be taken away, that she'd be put in jail if we reported it, that we were threatened with beatings if we DARED tell anyone what dad did or how he acted.

And as a child at the time, no one believes you.

I still have problems now--that no one believes me, because "if things were that bad you would have gotten help", and "obviously no one is that cruel". And if they do believe me? Then I'm told to put it behind me, I'm told to grow the fuck up, to get past something so petty when they don't realize.

My childhood was in terror of a man who was convinced that he was "just doing his job" as a parent by insanely overreacting with rage and anger whenever something didn't go exactly how he wanted.

I don't want children for this precise reason, and it's one of the many reasons I think we should require training and tests before people even think of having a child.

People like my dad are the reasons we have so many screwed up individuals in this world, and I don't want to see any child-EVER dealing with something like this again, but I feel so powerless to stop it, to step in, or to fix anything.


Once, in my highschool class, one of the few times we came together without being asses to one another was when we were comparing abuse during childhood--mainly beatings. Mine were with a wooden spoon, with a belt, with a hand, whatever was handy,  others were worse--extension cords ripped from the wall, a wooden unfinished 2x4, a book, a glass or metal baking pan.

I always think: What does a child do that warrants being beaten until they're bloody and bruised?

Often it's small stuff: They talked back, they complained about something, they suggested doing something in a better way to the parent.


I was once beaten for putting teflon-coated dishes into the dishwasher. Now my mom does it regularly, and I wince when I take them out while I'm doing dishes.

It's like my life teachings count for nothing when they "just don't care" anymore.


and I'm considered a NORMAL child, FYI.

I'm not from "some abusive horrible family" my parents see what they do is NORMAL, their own families back them up on what they did and do to me and my sister, their friends back them up, they have been encouraged, to, time and again, "spare the rod, spoil the child".

I read a paragraph the other day on an abuse site---someone's paragraph from therapy, of things parents said to their child during spanking. It was the same things my parents had said. I had to take a break from reading it. I could barely stand to read it--"this hurts me more than it hurts you" is a fucking country song lyric, and it's the most untrue bullshit I've ever read. It doesn't hurt my dad one bit to go into a blind angry rage at the fact that I'm not chewing quietly. Not. One. bit.

Totally 'get' so much of that, story sounds so similar. For years I thought my experience was unique, until I moved away for college, changed cities, changed friends, discovered people truly, and found out so many had had a hard time too. That went a long way in making me feel more comfortable with it. Though I will never be at ease around violence, mental/verbal/physical (I can react violently or cower or stoically depending on context).


I should add that ALL my horrible childhood/teen experiences stopped at age 14, when I placed a large kitchen knife between myself and that oncoming stepdad.


Both my 1/2 brother and sister bedwet (I was diaper-free at 9 m), my sister was cured early on by a couple of chiropractic sessions, but my brother was considered too young for that by my mom... My stepdad (brother's true dad) would beat him every time it happened (several times a week). and just a few months before the knife event, I flipped, and had a screaming match at him that 'beating him only made the bedwetting worse'. Oddly, that was the end of those beatings and soon thereafter the wetting.

Sadly, this is my REAL DAD, so he somehow owns me or something, and can do whatever he likes.


For me, it was the fear of beatings that controlled everything I did. Did I want to play with barbies? Better do it quietly so it doesn't interrupt daddy's tv time(which is all the time), Do I want to go get a snack from the kitchen? Nope, can't do that, he's out there and will say something about me eating.

the bedwetting thing is a self-feeding fear. You wet the bed, are beaten, and then you are terrified of the next time you wet the bed because you know the beatings are coming.

If I put a knife at him he would grab a gun from his massive collection and either shoot me or make me walk out of the house, possibly take off my shoes and keep walking. I'd hate to see what would happen and I never want to try.

When I move away for the last time, though---I've already compiled the few things I'm going to say to both of them.

Once I get away, I'm changing my phone number.

Once I get away, I'm never talking to them again.

Once I get away, I have decided: If kids happen, adopted or otherwise, they are never meeting my parents. On the day, as I'm leaving, I will tell my mother and father that they barely have the right to tell me anything--I realized that they were less intelligent than I was at 12--TWELVE! I have had no respect for them for the longest time, simply because of their petty fights and inability to control themselves when it comes to money.

How do you respect people in power over you who are complete idiots?

My response has been, as always, to hide, to run, to disappear for several hours until it blows over. I'm just not powerful enough to settle the problems in my family, and you can't teach stupid to not be stupid anymore.

the problem with this(as referenced in your earlier reply to someone else) is that I am now severely lacking in social skills--I was never around anyone but my manipulative, also verbally abusive and greedy sister as a child. I'm constantly defending myself from them, and I can't trust -anyone-, to the point where if someone I know offers me a drink somewhere--I still turn it down, I don't trust anyone enough to be drunk around them, I don't trust anyone enough to open up to them. I am Damaged Goods, and every boyfriend I will ever find will have to deal with my bizarre mixture of morals and general hatred for humanity.

I will also point out: being forced to act less intelligent to please your parents=CHILD ABUSE. A bizarre, sick, twisted form of it, that sickens me whenever I think about how I have to explain things to them, then they get upset that I'm going over their heads, like I've insulted them.

 I will also point out: being forced to act less intelligent to please your parents=CHILD ABUSE. A bizarre, sick, twisted form of it, that sickens me whenever I think about how I have to explain things to them, then they get upset that I'm going over their heads, like I've insulted them.


Omfg.  I thought I was the ONLY one that had this problem!!!!!


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