Child Discipline Or Sheer Child Abuse?

I understand that child discipline should control, restrain, and most importantly correct wrongdoing. If indeed it was designed to do the aforementioned, this suggests that whatever humanely form this discipline would come should be relatively proportional to the actions, age and size of the child – and more, it should help the child understand the need to avoid a repeat.

Growing up, I experienced discipline in various forms, it sometimes came in the subtle warnings against whatever mischief I was on to, deprivation, physical punishments that were within reason, and at other times when I really did it, it came in the really bitter sound of a whip cradling my palms.

Yes, a lot of us got spanked the good old way. For some of us, it was nothing alarming and disturbing enough to give you the chills. Nothing that tilted towards abuse. Nothing. But that doesn’t leave out the rest of the pack who had experiences (whether directly or indirectly) with domestic abuse in the guise of training.


I had a friend whose mother would throw any and every thing available at her and her siblings at the slightest provocation (I still marvel at how they made it through without any physical disability). At other times, when their sins had gotten way beyond being redeemed by throwing things or using dangerous whips, their mother resorted to lynching – she would equip herself with jagged items – open up her children’s skin in a very sensitive area and sandwich it with freshly ground pepper. How anyone conceived that idea is totally beyond me.

Oh! I’ve heard and read gory details of this sheer wickedness wrapped in the cloak of the so called discipline. I’ve seen and gleaned how teachers also take part in the act, and are sometimes specially employed by “concerned” parents to double or triple their ward’s share of it all when the teacher metes out his own definition of discipline. Just last month, I saw a disturbing image of a young boy who was beaten black and blue for doing the do on himself. I’m sure when asked, the teacher would plead wanting to reprove him for his misconduct. To the teacher, there could be no other reason like an illness, food consumed, etc. to result in such an act. No, it just has to be that it was intentional on the child’s part.

I’ve also heard that a few kids act like they are the devil themselves, but I wonder what whipping a child like a slave master makes the perpetrator – the devil’s boss maybe.

I know that whether or not it is right to even spank one’s kids is a highly debatable topic that would go on for years, with both sides coming up with valid and rational reasons why they hold their individual notions. But still, there are excesses on both the verbal and physical method of reproval. So I sought to understand the very need for physical discipline in the first place. And more, to know where the line between discipline and downright wickedness was drawn.

When exactly does discipline become abuse?

When physical discipline of a child is unreasonably and excessively done. It includes, but is not restricted to: throwing, kicking, burning, biting, gagging, lynching, cutting, striking with a closed fist, striking underaged children on the face or other sensitive areas, interfering with a child’s breathing, or any other act that is likely to cause bodily harm and damage.

When physical cruelty sets in and corporal punishment exceeds that required for reasonable disciplinary purposes.

When the purpose of the discipline is no longer for the safeguarding or promotion of the child’s welfare.

When it’s not aimed at the prevention or punishment of misconduct.

When it’s not intended to benefit child.

Generally, I believe we should be cautious enough to identify the line between a correctional gesture contained in reason and one purely founded on the wheels of abuse. Also, here are a few questions to ask yourself the next time you want to discipline a child who did wrong:

How do I really feel about this child’s error?

Is there an important lesson that I want to impart?

Is the child aware that I correct in love?

Is the punishment commensurate with the mistake?

Did I in anyway misunderstood the child?

Am I taking out my frustrations on the child?

Am I causing a change, or just instilling fear?

Do I want my child correcting this same way in the near future?

Are there any other possible means of driving home the message?

I know you would probably have come to a reasonable conclusion by the time you go through these questions in your head. Well that’s the whole point of my writing them, and I guess all I’m trying to say is – stop to think it through before taking any physical actions on an erring child. Understand the wrong done, seek to create a change rather than leave a “mark” and be sure to correct lovingly.

What do you think?

In my opinion, abuse in the guise of discipline shouldn’t be encouraged. What was it like for you as a child? Please do let me know all the gory details, and the really humorous ones.

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