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Child Abuse vs. Discipline

More than half of the reported cases of child abuse all over the globe occur within the four walls of children’s own homes, that too under the garb of disciplining them. Isn’t this scary?

Most child abuse instances start with attempt to discipline. Parents want to give mild physical punishment but their heightened arousal level of frustration and anger makes them hit more severely than they want. It also makes them shout, scold, insult, ridicule, humiliate the child and scare him by making scary faces at him. And they believe themselves justified doing all this.

Every parent has different style of disciplining his or her children. Some go to the extent to physically assaulting their children to the extent that the injuries remain permanently on the child’s body like a tattoo. Others don’t even bother when their children commit blunders of their lives.

The question is when do our activities to discipline a child amount to child abuse?

What is child abuse: Definition of child abuse

Different sources define child abuse in different ways. Every country has its own definition of child abuse. There are thousands of libraries filled with discussion on this topic.

Well, I think we abuse a child if we hurt his:

  •     Physical health; or
  •     Psychological heath; or
  •     Emotional health; or
  •     General welfare
Severe beating by all means is child abuse. I think everyone would agree on that. Most people believe some physical harm like spanking is okay but hurting too much is child abuse.

Now the question is how much is too much? And does force of spanking make a difference? Is mild spanking acceptable mode of discipline? Where to draw the line between child discipline and child abuse?

To find the answer, let’s look at what happens when we spank a child for his misbehavior:

  •     Get angry beyond our control
  •     Scold and shout at the child
  •     Ridicule the child
  •     Make scary face, open our eyes wide apart and look like a demon
  •     Physically hurt the child

Now look at it from the child’s point of view. The child feels:

  •     Scared by our rage of anger and demon like face
  •     Humiliated by our spanking and ridiculing him
  •     Physical pain by our spanking

Now look at the definition and decide:

Have we hurt his physical health?

Yes, at least mildly, if it was a light spank. The child does feel the pain, howsoever less it might be.

Have we hurt his psychological health?

Yes, we have scared him and shown him our demon face which gets imprinted on his mind and remains there much after the pain of physical hurt is gone. More over every act of spanking is a violent act. Violence is violence. It teaches the child that it is okay to hit someone you love.

Have we hurt his emotional health?

Yes, we have ridiculed and humiliated him.

Every kind of spanking is violence. It causes physical pain in the body of the child and also causes fear in his mind. Every act of spanking also involves humiliation for the child. The adult does not only assault physically but also shouts at the child simultaneously, scolds him, humiliate him and makes ugly and scary face expressions at the child. The child might forget the injury caused by spanking, but he will never forget the humiliation caused to him and the horrifying eyes of the parent at that point of time and the scary facial expression which look the demon to the child. All this is nothing short of child abuse.

Spanking doesn’t come alone. It comes with humiliation and terror for the child.

So we can say for sure that our action of spanking was certainly a child abuse. We can try lots of other alternative ways to discipline children which are far more effective … and painless too.

Every Parent raises a hand as last resort available at his command. He doesn't explore what else he can do to get the child behave. Parents become more punitive when they feel powerless.

If we can control ourselves, we can control our kids too. But we have to start with ourselves first, then only we can teach this to our children.

We, as a society, approve light spanking by saying that we just want to discipline the child. We approve this only because some time or the other most of us do that and we want a mass approval for that.

Spanking cannot be approved as a tool to discipline children merely because of the reason that most of us do that; or because it is the easiest way for us to discipline the children.

Child Abuse vs. Discipline by letting go

Absolute neglect of children, where parents do not bother to provide even the basic living conditions to their children, certainly falls in the definition of child abuse.

But abuse does not have to be so severe to be abuse.

If you're making a child feel being not loved or being unwanted or being useless, you are abusing him.

But what about the cases where parents not only provide all facilities to their children but also give them all the liberty to do whatever they want to do. They don’t object to their children’s misbehaving, stealing, abusing, bullying, beating their peers. The child is obviously happy about it.

Does this amount to child abuse? Let’s see:

  • Do they hurt their children’s physical health?  No.
  • Do they hurt their children’s psychological health? Yes, because they let the child feel that whatever he does is acceptable and it is okay to misbehave and hit someone.
  • Do they hurt their children’s emotional health? Yes, because they let the child being insensitive toward others.
  • Do they hurt their children’s general Welfare? Certainly yes, because the child does not understand that he is spoiling his future by doing all that, but the parents know that and still allow the child to spoil his future welfare.

So letting the children do things their own way without any control is also a child abuse.

Have you seen child abuse around you?

  •     Have you been a victim of child abuse?
  •     Have you ever abused your children knowingly or unknowingly?
  •     Have you seen any incident of child abuse around you?
  •     Do you have a story about child abuse?
  •     Have you ever found yourself confused whether an action is child abuse or not?
  •     Do you want to make any comment about this topic?

If yes, then share your story with us. We'll publish it on our blog.

And don't forget to upload any photo, image or picture related to the topic, if you have. Remember, a picture is worth thousand words.


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