Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If the danger is great enough is a swat/belt warranted?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (26798points) July 1st, 2011

You see a boy ”Lenny” [10ish] walking sort of funny and you comment if he fell skateboarding or something, He says to the effect that he got caught in the tool shed attached to the back of the house playing with matches again. That his father took off his belt and whacked him abut 4–6 times on the butt and back of the legs saying he could have set off the paint, solvents and welding equipment and blew half the house up putting his mother and younger sister in danger. Just off that info what is your thoughts of that?

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33 Answers

Aethelwine's avatar

A little swat on the butt with a hand is enough to discipline a child if they are doing something that could harm them or someone else. and I know I’ll be called a child abuser here for just saying that, but fuck it. My children are thoughtful, considerate and intelligent thanks to the discipline, attention and love they have received from me and their father.

A belt is another thing. A belt is abuse.

Hibernate's avatar

For that you call social services not the swat ^^

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I know, I know… everyone hates my opinion on this…. but I don’t see anything wrong with a smack on the butt or the hand. I don’t agree with using objects, no belts or sticks or paddles or whatever else, but I know I’m in the minority with this opinion. I don’t hit my kids, in part because they aren’t technically my kids, but when they are putting themselves or others in danger that is when the temptation kicks in for me. It’s almost instinctive to want to smack the hand away from the hot stove.

I know way too many people whose parents didn’t hesitate to crack them one, and we all turned out just fine.

Hibernate's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf if you do not disciplinate them later they could say you didn’t love them .

Most have issues here but it’s hard to pick the right thing to do .

Aethelwine's avatar

@Hibernate But it isn’t hard. Really. It’s the wishy washy parents who want to be the best friend to their kids who are creating the problem.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I can’t tell if that was meant to be sarcasm….

Anyhow, of course I believe in discipline. There are plenty of ways to discipline a child, swatting only being one of countless ways to do so. I am just one of the remaining few that doesn’t have a problem with a parent giving their child a smack. I can hear studies and theories until my head spins, but I know far too many people personally that have been spanked and feel that they were not only unharmed by it, but perhaps grew to be better people as a result.
Having said that, I don’t think that spanking should be the only disciplinary action if you choose to utilize that particular option. As for the original topic… again I would say that, personally, that is when I am most tempted to swat.

whitenoise's avatar

Corporal punishment is a crime and only shows the impotence of the parent. It teaches your child nothing but the option to regress to violence if you loose out on arguments

It is a good thing it is forbidden in most developed countries.


augustlan's avatar

What you have described is not a swat, it is a beating, which, in my opinion is never warranted.

I personally don’t believe in using spanking as a form of punishment/discipline in the first place, but I understand that many don’t have a problem with it. (I wouldn’t call a controlled smack on the butt child abuse.)

Now, if my child were in immediate danger, say, running out into the street or something, I’d very likely swat them on the ass as I grabbed them back from the brink of death. Just instinctively.

Aethelflaed's avatar

No. Spankings (and whippings, which is much more severe than spankings) don’t really do anything except make the spanker feel better. Yes, some people come out unscathed by it, but others don’t. Many children associate the spanking with the parent that did it, not with the behavior, and there’s no real way to tell beforehand if the child will respond by associating it to the spanker or the act. Plus, saying to your child that you’re so concerned about preventing accidental physical harm that you’re willing to inflict deliberate physical harm undercuts your message of concern and sends a mixed message. Adding in how if kids are sexualized and porn-aware younger, that means they associate spanking and whipping as a sexual practice at very young ages (and parents often don’t know their kids are aware of such societal connotations), and it’s really better to go with a disciplinary method that has a higher rate of effectiveness and a lower rate of going horribly, horribly wrong. Better safe than sorry.

Mariah's avatar

I think it depends a lot on the kid. The keyword in your post that might make a spanking (I agree with @ANef_is_Enuf – with the hand, don’t use objects) permissible in my eyes, is “again”. Obviously other punishments aren’t sinking in to this kid because he continues to do it.

But some kids, and this is how I was growing up, don’t need to be told twice. I was a very sensitive kid, and it stung when my parents got mad at me for something I did, enough so that I wouldn’t do that thing again. I think parents need to be responsible for knowing their kid well enough to know how sensitive he/she is and know what level of punishment is required. I would have been EXTREMELY upset if my parents had ever spanked me, that level of punishment was just way more than what was necessary with me.

Lightlyseared's avatar

No. It is much better to let the child immolate themsleves.

Hibernate's avatar

@ANef_is_Enuf it wasn’t sarcasm . I do encourage punishments but not cruel ones .

@whitenoise it may illegal in some parts of the globe but keep in mind that most of us took at least one palm from our parents . Indeed it shows how lame some parents can be if they only rel on corporal punishments but it’s just the mental part which is wrong for them [ they do not know any better that’s why they act that way ] . Because I haven’t been there to see a parent with X degrees and Y doctorates spanking his kid with a belt 24/7 .

@Mariah you may have been one of those kids who were sensitive but not all kids are like that . It’s wrong to punish them every time they make a mistake but some mistakes can’t be overlooked [ or at least one should explain the situation to them in their own words so they can understand it ] .

Mariah's avatar

@Hibernate Right, which is why I said that it depends on the kid. Lighter punishments are all that are needed for SOME kids.

downtide's avatar

Depends on the child, I think. If a child is about to put themselves in danger right that second a smack on the butt can be effective in getting them away from that immediate danger. But premeditated punishment at some later time is pointless.

Ron_C's avatar

A swat with a belt is better than being burned to death. If this is a persistent problem as the question suggests, the kid may have psychological problems related to a fascination with fire. I think the parents and kids need counseling.

roundsquare's avatar

@downtide I dunno, I got spanked as a kid. But it was always a very controlled situation. My dad would sit me down and tell me what I did wrong. Then, he would give me a chance to tell my side of the story. Finally, he would check to make sure I hadn’t already gotten hurt some other way (e.g. by playing outside with friends, etc…). It worked pretty well that way.

downtide's avatar

@roundsquare it sounds like your father dealt with it in a way that a lot of parents don’t. The talking part is important.

Hibernate's avatar

It may seem nice but that way could just seem a way to avoid a spanking . Just make a scratch and by his father acted he could have avoided the punishment . [ I may be wrong and it depends on the situations but still ]

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Corporal punishment is a crime and only shows the impotence of the parent. It teaches your child nothing but the option to regress to violence if you loose out on arguments

Do do nothing or little at all lets the child know they can run over their parents like the help and not listen at all. They can surf the Web at school, use their friend’s cell phone, so whatever gadget they get taken, they hand hang until they get it back or end up in an orange jump suit.

augustlan's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central There is a middle ground between beating a child and ‘doing nothing’. Are you seriously suggesting that if a kid doesn’t get spanked they’re going to end up in jail?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@augustlan If giving them a spanking which is not a beating, will mentally ”mess them up” even if they don’t think about or recognize it, doing nothing can be just as bad. Who is to tell? By letting the kid get away or get off light with things might send some the message that they will only get a slap on the wrist so maybe swiping that purse isn’t all that stupid of a deal. If one can say a spanking or a couples of swats equal a flogging across the rack with a cat-o-nine tails, on can say being lax is a get out of jail free card to do whatever because there is no real threat until the badges show up.

augustlan's avatar

Hitting a kid with a belt is not a spanking, in my book. And I would never advise going easy or doing nothing, either. There are plenty of serious punishments that don’t involve beating your child with a belt.

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whitenoise's avatar

Especially young children have a hard time linking punishment (in general) to the act they are being punished for. You can safely assume that when you swat a young child, you will teach them little, if anything at all, with relevance to the danger.

There are far better ways to teach young children to stay away from danger, than through punishment. Show negative emotion towards the danger rather than towards your child, for instance. That way your child will actually understand your message and learn to avoid the danger, while improving the trust with its parent.
(This is the way animals educate their ‘kids’ and far more natural and in line with the way we learn. A lion mum will not bite her cub for punishment. They do out of annoyment, indeed, but that is not what we’re talking about here. Punishment is a social construct that is far too complex to work in relation with young children.)

An example:
If you have a young child (say 1–2 years old) and you want it to not touch an electrical outlet, then the best way to actually teach it to stay away from the socket is to take your child away from it and while clearly protecting it ‘from the socke’ show anger towards the socket.

I know it sounds like very left wing liberal sissy talk to many of you, but it is actually a technique proven to work better. Proven from my own experience, as well as according to my wife and one of our dear friends we discussed our techniques with, who both hold a PhD in educational sciences and (developmental) psychology.

When kids are older, they can be reasoned with and that opens again a whole new tool chest with better alternatives to teach your child to avoid danger.

It depends on you goal, if you truly want to teach your child to avoid danger, than swatting them or spanking them is a very ineffective give way.

Coloma's avatar

I gave my daughter ( now almost 24) a few swats as a very young child, between maybe 2 and 5 tops. Always on the bottom with my hand, no belts or other implements of abuse.

Honestly, I can only remember maybe 2 or 3 times.

Once when she was 4 and I was in the process of selling one of our cars at the time, talking with the buyer.

A classic taking advantage of the moment thing, she went inside and got a box or cookies or crackers and was running around the yard throwing them to the dog and, in general being a complete little shit. lol Yes, after repeated requests to stop, and after I finished up the transaction with the car person and they left…oooh boy…the one and only real, over the knee spanking! not on her bare bottom, through shorts and underware.

I do not advocate spanking, and in general it is not an effective punishment, but, as others have said, a couple of swats is not the same thing as belts, sticks and hairbrushes.

Now my mother gave me a few spankings with the hairbrush, wooden spoon and once, with a pink yardstick. haha I do not feel I was ‘abused’ but, things have changed since the 50’s and 60’s. I can still remember her Coral pink wide hairbrush and the hot pink yardstick that nabbed me when I was messing around instead of practicing my piano.

Communication and other non physical ‘punishments’ are by far, the better way to go, but, I would never call someone who has given a child a few minor spankings an abuser, even though some might say otherwise.

If one observes animals you will see that they discipline with some physical corrections too.

The horse nips her foal if he/she is being pushy.
The cat swats her kitten, the dog bears her teeth and nips at her pups, the bear cuffs her cubs. Mild and modest use of corporal correction on rare occasion does not a child abuser make IMO.


Maybe with a stupid boy like that, he needs that kind of punishment so he’ll finally realize that playing with matches is a serious thing. Some kids learn with a good stern lecture. Others, like this thick-skulled boy, need to feel physical pain in order to make the connection. Just like those cooks on the Japanese version of “The Iron Chef” show——when they make a mistake, their head boss gives them a hard slap on the head so they don’t forget! Lol.

Coloma's avatar

I had neighbors once when my daughter was about 2 that had the most out of control 5 year old boy. This kid was, was…there are no words to describe ‘Kevin.’ haha

He’d be running around with kitchen knives and once he put the hose in the window of their brand new car and flooded it. These people would just stand there saying ” Oh Kevin, Oh Kevin” was amazing!

Once he pushed my daughter down in our garage and she cracked her poor little head on the concrete! I coulda killed that kid right then and there let me tell you!

The whole neighborhood ostricized these people because this kid was maniacal.

I can openly and unashamedly admit, if EVER there was a kid I would have liked to smack the crap out of, it would have been “Oh Kevin.” lol

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Coloma Just put him in a “naughty chair” for 20 minutes, I am sure he would have gotten the point not to push little girls down besides car electronics are cheap. After do “aquatize” his parents car he might think it cute to do some of the other neighbors.

Coloma's avatar


Well…Kevin is probably about 26 now, too late for the naughty chair.
Hopefully he’s escaped the electric chair. haha

whitenoise's avatar

Sounds to me that Oh Kevin was a somewhat troubled young man. Reminds me of some of our friends that had come over from the states.

The first thing ‘Oh Stefan’ did, when one of my boys came up to his room to say hello, was punch my boy straight in the face. His mother’s response: ‘Oh… he must be somewhat upset from travelling’. Within an hour he was jumping on the roof of the rental car his parents had rented. It baffled me that the boy wasn’t corrected at all for either of these things.

Now, ‘Oh Stefane’ scares my boys and his parents scare me.

whitenoise's avatar


Can you really provide examples from the animal world of parents punishing their offspring?

An individual hurting another as a result of a temporary loss of emotional control or being annoyed is not punishment. Such behavior is a different form of violence. Punishment is deliberately hurting someone with reason. (Not in anger, as was described, above.) Punishment is a deliberate, controlled act. It has a conscious purpose.

I am truly convinced that punishment of another individual is a cultural invention. It is not even expressed in all human cultures. In scandinavia and most European countries, for instance, it is very rare for parents to punish their children physically and many parents don’t ever punish their children. (They correct them, but do not punish them.)

Coloma's avatar


I already did. Of course animals are not consciously choosing to punish their offspring, they are simply setting boundaries and/or naturally limiting the offsprings dependancies when the time is right.

As I said, I agree that physical punishment should be used sparingly if at all, however, I still stand firm that a parent who has given their child a swat or two for whatever reasons should not be lumped into the abusive category.

Again, I agree that an ‘adult’ should be able to implement effective corrections minus physical contact, ideally this would be true.

I don’t know if you have children, and not having children in no way minimizes your ideals, however, if you do not have children, let me assure you that it’s easier to talk the talk than it is to walk the walk.

Many childless people have all sorts of idealistic thoughts on how they would raise their children, I did too, and for the most part I met my own idealism very well, but, until you have children, never say never.

whitenoise's avatar

Allow me to stand firmly with you on not being judgmental about other people.

Like you, I will join you in standing firm that a parent who has given their child a swat or two for whatever reasons should not be lumped into the abusive category.

I have two 8 year old boys that have so far never had a punishment that exceeds going to the hallway and only allowed to come back after changing their behavior in a way that they would not be annoying others. That was always the only condition, they would always be welcome to return if they could behave.. even after 20 seconds.)

They are beautiful, very well behaved compassionate children. (And still very lively, confident boys.) I wish I could show them to you, they’re my pride and joy. (Actually, I think @JLeslie is the only one on fluther that has seen their pictures, but I’m just too freaked about my and their privacy to easily share.)

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