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Corporal Punishment is Not Necessarily Abuse And Here’s Why

A facebook status recently went viral where a mom found out her daughter (no age mentioned but based on the context I’m going to guess about middle-school age) was physically and verbally abusing a classmate.

Upon learning the news, the mom “whooped her daughter’s butt” (again, I’m not exactly sure on what that entailed) and then mama bear marched her daughter to the other girl’s house where the bully was forced to apologize to both the victim and the parents.

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Personally, I thought the punishment fit the crime and I probably would have done the same thing had my son been caught mistreating or bullying a peer or classmate.

But of course “mommy warriors” took to the comment section, reprimanding the mother for how she handled the situation and incredulously inquiring, “how do you expect to train your KID not to bully if YOU are a bully?”

Ok, hold the phone right there for one, damn second. Drawing a parallel between bullying and a parent’s right to enforce corporal punishment as a means to scare or eradicate an adverse behavior is unsubstantiated and feckless.

Bullying is a means of establishing dominance and power through humiliation, gaslighting, degradation, and any means possible. Bullying is designed to buttress the confidence and ego of the abuser while reducing the victim’s sense of autonomy and self-worth at whatever means necessary.

Corporal punishment – when used sparingly and correctly – does none of these things. Corporal punishment (again, when inflicted by a parent who communicates its purpose to the child and uses it only for the sake of bettering their child) is far from bullying.

How do I know this? Because I was bullied my whole life. Not by my peers, but by my dad. He actually WAS a bully. He used his position of power to degrade me in every way how – verbally, physically, and emotionally. Getting slammed against walls, spanked, smacked, chocked, verbally degraded – these were all daily occurrences, tactics he used to remind me I was his, tactics none of which were warranted or deserved.

My dad (seemingly) did everything in his power to make me feel worthless and that’s what bullies do. People might bully for different reasons – I can’t speak to why my father chose to bully me or why kids choose to bully other kids. What I DO know is that the entire purpose behind bullying is to give the perpetrator a feeling of control and dominance. Their sense of self-worth is almost entirely reliant on how much of that he or she can take away from their target.

My mom, on the other hand, only gave me an “ass whooping” a handful of times in my life. I remember every one of them and I can say with certainty I deserved them. They were done out of love, out of a general desire to make me understand the gravity of what I had done. None of those situations made me feel the need to go and bully other people; not even for a second.

Not one of those situations conveyed the message to me that violence was okay. All they did was make me understand how much I had disappointed and scared her and I’m glad she did what she did. Unlike my father, my mom used physical force because she wanted to ensure I never did those things again. And I didn’t. And I’m a better person for it.

See, the thing is, I have been on both sides. I have experienced physical abuse from a parent in a multitude of ways and I’m here today, as a parent myself, as someone who loves my son and wants him to be the best man that he can be, to explain that corporal punishment can be effective and necessary if done for the right reasons.

I understood the difference then and I understand it now. I’m not suggesting you break out the belt switch every time your child messes up. Corporal punishment should be the last resort, not the first. It should be instilled with a clear explanation, so the recipient understands its purpose.

And it’s totally ok if you think hitting a kid is wrong. I get that. I’ve been through that. I understand the other side of that argument. But don’t for a second think that a parent trying to teach their kid right from wrong is the same as bullying. It’s not. Not even close. And it’s irresponsible to put the two in the same category.

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About Mcclain W.

19 comments

  1. WILLIAM J OGBURN III

    AMEN! Absolutely dead on.

    • Diana Macdonald

      Amen indeed!!! My daughter was bullied her whole life. She was small, frail and homely. She is now a beautiful young woman with an excellent job in federal law enforcement. I wish all moms would do what this mom did to teach her child that bullying is just WRONG!! Not once did any moms of the children that bullied my daughter take ANY action to teach their children that it is wrong to bully others!!!!!!

      • Ever hear the proverb, ‘Teach someone to fish….’ There is no difference in most life situations. Teach the child to defend themselves and the bullying will stop. There are lambs and wolves all over this planet. The meek will not inherit the earth. Look around you. I suppose I could have been classified as a bully in my day. I was bullied as well. I was a kid. I needed to learn my limits and boundaries. Whether that was taught to me by my parents or the bully next door. Parents have an obligation to teach their children to survive in this world, not chase the child around patting them on the head and telling them what a good boy they are….. I sent my daughter to Karate. Bullying problem solved. Stop being ignorant.

  2. Corporal punishment in schools IS abus because any real punishment is abuse because the child should be punished by their parents and NOT by schools and NOT by corporal punishment in the schools.
    The schools could just punish the child by removing the child from the classroom and do things like having the child sit someplace alone and quietly and that is the only the most type of punishment a child should get by the school, plus telling the parents that the childwould not be let back into school if that child does not behave .

    • scruffy scirocco

      Yeah, and then suddenly the child is 18 years old and ends up in jail because the insignificant wrist slaps didn’t teach him that asocial behavior has consequences. Way to go.

    • Spanking, does not lead to bullying. In my opinion spanking should be rare and applied only for the most severe nisconduct or defiance of your parental authority. That being said, it is the height arrogance for someone tell another parent how to raise their child. Every child is different. What works for one child may not be effective with another. The person criticizing a parent knows nothing about the circumstances or the child the parent is dealing with. Children are all different and a cookie cutter approach does not work. That being said: It is beyond my understanding to go to a restaurant for dinner and have a parent sit there watch their child screaming and climbing on top of the table, while the parent does nothing. That is unacceptable to me when a quick visit to the restroom with child in toll could solve the problem with a firm conversation or a small swath. If your child does not respect your authority when they are 4 or 5 years old: your next 13 years are not going to be good for you or your child.

    • Discipline does not lead to bullying. In my opinion spanking should be rare and applied only for the most severe misconduc or defiance of your parental authority. That being said, it is the height arrogance for one parent tell another parent how to raise their child. Every child is different. What works for one child may not be effective with another. The person criticizing a parent knows nothing about the circumstances or the child the parent is dealing with. Children are all different and a cookie cutter approach does not work. That being said: It is beyond my understanding to go to a restaurant for dinner and have a parent sit there watch their child screaming and climbing on top of the table, while the parent does nothing. That is unacceptable to me when a quick visit to the restroom with child in toll could solve the problem with a firm conversation or a small swath. If your child does not respect your authority when they are 4 or 5 years old: your next 13 years are not going to be good for you or your child.

    • Snowflake. Your attitude is why kids don’t behave in school now.
      Removal from class is a reward. If kids are paddled (board of education to seat of education) in front of peers bad behavior becomes non existent in a hurry. Good parenting then applies twice the number of swats at home to reinforce the lesson. Punishing bad behavior discourages its repeat. We have some of the same problem with prisons and adults. It often isn’t bad enough to discourage repeat trips.

    • The reason we have no control in schools today is because we don’t allow schools to discipline children. The thought that putting an unruly child in time out is going to solve the child’s unruliness is liberal insanity. Thinking that isolating the child from the classroom is going to solve the problem is more liberal insanity. It is no different than our prisons today. Do you really think our prison system is effective? It’s a joke. Human nature demands punishment that fits the crime. That includes corporal punishment. And that includes children. I was whooped at home. Still love my parents. I was whooped at school. Still graduated at the top of my class. I whooped my daughter. She still loves me. So, you liberal folks keep thinking like you do and one day your regrets will shine brightly as you pass to eternity. Ignorant.

  3. And those moms saying that disciplining your children in that way is bullying, are probably the same left-wing liberal moms who verbally bash our President right in front of their kids every chance they get. Isn’t THAT a form of bullying too?? Such hypocrisy.

    • You think that verbally bashing the prez in front of your child is a form of bullying but hitting them is not? That’s exactly what you are saying. Oh – and cut the liberal bashing – that’s not necessary because if we want to talk partisan politics and bullying, you will find yourself having to defend the bully-in-chief. And that’s not a position you want to be in.

  4. I spanked my son a total of two times while he was growing up. Once when he pulled away from me and ran in front of a moving car. Beyond that kind of misbehavior, I don’t feel that spanking or “whooping” is necessary IF the parent takes the time to explain why a particular behavior is bad and unacceptable. It takes but a minute and gives the child a chance to understand. If he continued the behavior, he might just have gotten spanked. But that never happened. Once the situation was explained, he understood. I don’t think that constitutes bullying. It’s actually parenting.

    • I spanked my son once – he did deserve it, but the abject look of horror and emotion on his face after I did that (it was a pretty mild three swats) hurt me terribly and I vowed NEVER to lay a hand on him again. Talking and figuring out appropriate punishment definitely takes more time and thought.

      Seeing as how he is a caring father now, I decided to ask his opinion of the subject and amazingly, he remembered that incident over 30 years ago. He said he would never do anything like that to his kids.

  5. Ask youself this, would this behavior be acceptable in the adult world? Its a crime to hit someone in any wau when you are adults, so why do we convince ourselves this somehow o.k. with children? Strange disconnect here. I’m not saying severe punishment isn’t deserved but beating your kid to show that beating another seems a bit contradictory.

  6. My mom had this down and the older I get (72) the more I appreciate her wisdom. First, she started when we were toddlers, when a sharp slap on the hand was enought to stop us from doing something destructive or dangerous. Second, we always got a fair warning to cease and desist, so we knew the spanking was our own choice

    It went something like this, “Stop (whatever it was we were doing wrong… usually fighting with each other) or I’ll spank you both to make sure I get the right one”. She never threatened without following through which is the reason this worked so well.

    The spanking was usually one or two good smacks on the butt with her hand. The worst was the one summer she whapped the back of my bare leg with a fly swatter… Ouch! That only took one swat.

    Too many people today think this is cruel but what seems worse to me is nagging without following through. This just creates uncertainty about the rules, allowing the child to become an unruly, obnoxious brat that never learns the boundaries of civil behavior.

  7. I’m sorry but I think hitting someone because they were hitting , makes no sense at all. It is the old premise of the threat of pain in return what is done wrong. Most kids bully because they are being “whooped”. Who defines what the child does is earning a whooping ? Is it back talk ? Is it hitting ? Is it bullying ? It is amazing what talking to child can accomplish. Did anyone ask the child for their side ? Also talking shows the child what is wrong, put it in perspective, explain how it makes them look bad and why. The apology should not have been public, that’s humiliation. Let the child find an appropriate sorry. Then you talk together and Express your disappointment because you know they are better that then deliver a sincere apology. You let kids watch all the deal on tv, where bullies abound and are funny and cool. I will hit you for this but you can’t hit anyone….really?

  8. I couldn’t agree more. Your article is spot-on. Thank you for saying what so many of us feel.

  9. William Bloomquist

    I was born in 1953 and I had a wonderful, stable home life with my parents and two sisters. I was the youngest. My father and I had a great relationship and he started taking me with him to work when I was 6 years old. He worked in the very young field of television. I was around adults more than kids my own age, so I started growing up emotionall very quickly. I never acted like a typical kid when at the studio.

    They tell me I never threw temper trantrums and all in all, I was a very well behaved kid. That being said, there were still times when I disrespected my mom and dad or did stupid things like finding some Black Cat fireworks and opening them up on my little workbench in my room that dad and I built. I would pour the black powder out in a line on the top and set it fire so it burned a little, sparking trail, just like in the movies. Spanking time, but ONLY with an open had.

    At around age ten, I went to our local hardware store where I frequently visited to buy dry cell batteries, switches, tiyt flashlight bubs, wire etc as I was teaching myself, basic electricity. One time I bought some things but tucked others in my pocket. I had never done it before and I had the money from my allowance to buy it. I do not know why I was tempted to shoplift. The store owner caught me, and called my dad. The owner told my dad that he lnew how much I loved buying things in his store, but he was banning me for three months. He knew that was a real hard thing for me to endure.

    When dad got home, he talked to me about the mistake and then I got 5 swats on the butt.
    I deserved BOTH punishments and that even was a one time thing- NEVER to be repeated.

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