Discipline or Abuse?

Last week, the following video went viral on the Internet:

The responses to this video that I came across ranged from, “That’s how I was disciplined” to “That’s child abuse – the uncle should be arrested”. This range got me to think about modern-day parenting.

My husband and I both were raised in households that disciplined by spanking. However, neither of us had parents that ever disciplined us unnecessarily, or to the point of abuse. When we had our son we agreed he would be disciplined the same way – no second thought about it. It worked for our parents and kept up both in line, so why wouldn’t it work for our son?

However, I think about all of the students I’ve encountered in my years as an educator, and specifically the ones who stick out in my mind as having discipline problems. Every child isn’t fortunate enough to have two parents at home and for some, their parents are more like friends. A lot of parents would rather not hit their children and use the “time out” method for discipline. Many have had success going this route, but every child doesn’t respond to that method. More than once I’ve seen a student speak to their parent as if they were equals, talking back and even cursing. Furthermore, more children are quick to pick up the phone and call Children’s Services on their parents if spanked. It never occurred to me that I could have these reactions with my parents, as they instilled a healthy dose of fear in me through discipline at an early age. By the time I was double digits, spankings were no longer necessary.

Have parents gone soft on today’s children? What is the fine line between discipline and abuse?

3 Replies to “Discipline or Abuse?”

  1. YES! Parents have definitely gone soft on today’s children. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many ill-equipped parents out there or simply society’s laissez-faire attitude in general but nothing is sacred anymore. Everything goes, from our fast food fast ass lifestyles to the complete loss of innocence and total lack of self respect displayed in every facet of the Media. We just don’t care anymore about anything, a collective consciousness of “whatever”. It’s no wonder kids are cussing out the parents. The parents – We all have gone soft on ourselves.

    You hit the nail on the head though with “a healthy dose of fear.” Fear reminds us that there are consequences to our actions. It makes us accountable and that’s a beautiful thing. I think it crosses the line though when it becomes more about the beating than the correction or a means to vent anger and frustration rather than a tool to discipline, impart respect of self and others, and ultimately love. As for the uncle…I don’t like anybody cussing at a child like that, but I bet his nephew won’t be talking that gang mess online or anywhere else anymore! Put THAT on your wall! Yes indeed.

  2. “What’s done to children, they will do to society”. ~Karl Menninger

    In 31 nations, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US also has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

    The US states with the highest crime rates and the poorest academic performance are also the ones with the highest rates of child corporal punishment.

    There is simply no evidence to suggest that hitting the underage instills virtue.

  3. Desmond Tutu:

    “If we really want a peaceful and compassionate world, we need to build communities of trust where all children are respected, where home and school are safe places to be and where discipline is taught by example.”
    Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, 2006

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