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SpatzieLover's avatar

In your opinion, when does spanking or corporal punishment of a child become abuse?

Asked by SpatzieLover (24554points) July 11th, 2011

A follow up to my previous question.

Some people spank their children the same way each time, some up the ante,when is it abuse?

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31 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t like it at all, but I guess for me it is abusive when it is inflicting lasting pain, or intense pain at the time it happens. I think any corporal punishment outside of an open hand is over the line. I think if it is done excessively, I read one study that many parents said they used corporal punishment on average 3 times a week (it was an old study from years ago, so I assume the numbers are different now) which I find outrageous and excessive. But, I also remember the cousin of an exboyfriend of mine hit her daughters hand probably 5 times a day every day so she would stop reachng for things.

cletrans2col's avatar

When not being used for dicipline but for enjoyment of the abuser.

Cruiser's avatar

It is certainly abuse and more so when the parent threatens physical correction and uses that threat as a form of mental abuse. A swat on their butt to get attention is one thing but to repeatedly spank or verbally threaten a child with spankings and then unleashing on them IMO is crossing over the line. At that point the parent has lost control and most likely a long while ago.

MilkyWay's avatar

When it bruises.

marinelife's avatar

I don’t really believe in corporal punishment at all.

zenvelo's avatar

When it is disconnected from the child’s act and anywhere besides the buttocks, or on the hand when a child reaches for something dangerous. Thus swatting a two year old who cannot comprehend is abusive, spanking a 5 year old is abusive, hitting with a belt is always abusive.

JLeslie's avatar

@cletrans2col So if the parent believes it is good for the child to be whipped with a switch, because it will teach him to behave, and the parent is not enjoying it, but thinks it is the right way to accomplish the goal of having an obedient child, then it isn’t abuse? Why does the thoughts in the parents head matter if the end result is welts on the back of the child?

Blackberry's avatar

I guess leaving marks and causing extreme pain.

YARNLADY's avatar

To me, abuse of a child is when the parents does it out of meanness and does not love the child. I just read of a child who was severely abused, and yet does not hate her parents.

JLeslie's avatar

Not hating parents is not the end all be all measure in my opinion. Prisoners sometimes begin to care about their capture (Stockholm Syndrome). People many times need to believe it was ok whatever their situation is (Cognitive Dissonance). And, sometimes they are forgiving and understand their parents just didn’t know any better or were limited.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When it’s done in a rage.

everephebe's avatar

Spanking (violently touching your child’s ass) as a form of punishment is pretty weird. I’d say, it’s always abusive.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I feel you’re wrong @everephebe. Just your choice of the words “ass” and “weird” in one sentence tells me you might be sexualizing it in some weird way.

Ivan's avatar

When it starts.

jca's avatar

in New York State, legally (meaning what will bring on CPS involvement) it’s with anything other than a closed fist, or when it’s with any other object other than a hand (meaning using a hanger, belt, slipper, spoon, electrical cord, stick, etc) or any hit that leaves bruises or any other mark.

atlantis's avatar

This may help put things in perspective.

zenvelo's avatar

@atlantis That is a horrible story, but unfortunately not all that rare. But what is your point? That is way beyond what anyone here has described as abusive.

King_Pariah's avatar

It becomes abuse once the child has to lie about it and/or cover it up in some manner.

Plucky's avatar

I am against corporal punishment. However, like most, I believe there are different degrees.

If there has to be a line which one crosses for the punishment to turn to abuse ..perhaps it’s when the hit leaves a physical mark (welt, bruise, slash, red mark, etc). Also, where on the body the physical hit is placed (such as the face or chest vs the bottom or hand). Or when it is done with something other than the hand of the guardian. Obviously, the other signs such as broken/fractured bones, burns, missing hair, restraint marks, missing fingernails, etc… also would be proof of crossing the line.

john65pennington's avatar

Spanking your children is sometimes needed. We spank our children. A swat over the clothes on their buttocks did the trick. No one was hurt. There were no bruises. It was just the fact that their mom or dad was not believable that they would spank them. It was more psychological, then anyone else.

They both have thanked us for being stern parents.

Abuse is generally considered, when there are bruises above the waist.

Ivan's avatar


Bruises below the waist are fine then?

everephebe's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, if you think I have been naughty… No, really how am I “wrong” ? I re-contextualized spanking, in a creepy manner, only to prove a point… that it’s weird.

Spanking is not something sexual to me. And the vague insinuation you would seem to imply is… not ok.

The idea of pulling a child’s pants down around their ankles and hitting their bare buttocks with your bare hand is fucking bizarre. Why do that? Why? I was spanked as a child and it was not helpful, for anyone involved. I couldn’t have cared less about the pain, it was the humiliation and powerlessness that I felt. I was just a kid, you know. Spanking is bad parenting. Hitting a child anywhere is not logical, but (yes, that was a pun) if you are going to the butt does make some sense muscle mass and all… however, it is weird. And that’s my point.

If two consenting adults want to do that to eachother well… that’s their problem. Personally I don’t see the interest in it.

JLeslie's avatar

@cletrans2col No its not abuse? Ow extreme would it have to be forit to be abuse? If a man grabs me at gunpoint and rapes me, but in his mind I’m enjoying it, am I raped? At some point the actual action becomes more sgnificant than the intent. Maybe not a welt on a kids backside in your book, but I hope there is some sort of line not to cross within reason.

ucme's avatar

When it becomes more of a habit than a disciplinary tool.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@everephebe. If you would chill out just a moment you’ll see that nowhere did anyone suggest pulling the kids pants down around their ankles. We’ve all said the swats were given over their clothes. If your parents pulled your pants down in that manner then, yes. It’s weird. And I’m sorry you had to go through that.

Out of curiosity, do you think that nursing is “weird” too? And that giving a kid a small kiss on the lips is weird?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@ucme Even worse a habit is saying, “If you don’t stop that right now I’m going to spank you…” and never do it!

Nullo's avatar

When the intent is to cause harm, not correction. When it’s done in anger, even. There’s such a thing as going overboard, to be sure, but if it’s just mis-metered power output, it’s different from outright abuse.
Pain is an excellent teacher, provided that she’s teaching the right lessons. How many times did you touch a hot pan after your first burn? How many of you, like me, stepped up your dental hygiene after your first root canal? I went from not ever flossing to flossing practically all the time.

JLeslie's avatar

I had a conversation with friends the other day and hitting children came up. Everyone at the table was hit or whipped with a switch as a child as common practice, except my husband and me. One woman said she was hit with a stick or belt probably 3 times a week (like that one study I had read) she called it getting a spanking, until I thought to ask, “what is a spanking?” which I never would have thought to ask if not for the recent Q’s here.

Another spoke of being hit way up through being a teenager. I didn’t get the impression any of them felt they were abused, they just thought it was normal. They all also said they were brought up in households that were children should be seen not heard. My husband and I stated that we always include the children in the family in on conversation at the dinner table and during family get togethers. When I asked don’t you think including children in conversation helps them learn about the world, and how their family perceives the world, one guy said, that he raised his children differently than his parents raised him. Meaning his children participated more in family discussion. I had the distinct feeling all of these friends of ours at minimum accepted their own corporal punishment when they were children as something that was simply done back then. And, I also had the impression they all thought it was still acceptable in some circumstances still, would use it, or did use it on their own children.

I also raised how it changes behavior out of fear of punishment, but I want my kids to have good behavior because of internal reasons, conscience, wanting to help others and be a good person. It just triggers thoughts of religion to me. Not so much the passages in the bible that seem to encourage corporal punishment, but the idea of controlling oneself for fear of punishment. The lack of trust or belief that people will do good for goods sake. I certainly don’t feel all religious people think this way. None of my Catholic friends, who are quite religious, are walking around damning everyone and accusing people of being sinners, but certainly their are religious people out there very focused on people needing a threat of punisment to do the right thing.

My husband brought up one time his father was very angry with him, very dissappointed, and just the feeling of dissappointing him was enough to never do what he did again. You know, before I martried my husband I asked him about abortion, knew he believed in paying for a college education for his children, and believed him to be a man of integrity. These were things that I thought about when thinking about a possible pregnancies and a father to my future children, I never thought to ask about punishment styles. I realized after that conversation (I had never discussed corporal punishment with him before in the 20 years I’ve known him) how happy I was to know his attitudes were similar to mine. And, that this is something people should discuss before getting married.

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