September 19 2014
By Anna Lanfreschi
In light of the recent child abuse allegations against Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, HLN asked parents where they draw the line on disciplining their children. Is spanking ever acceptable or is it child abuse?
Three prominent bloggers weigh in. Do you agree with their opinions?
1. I'll never understand any parent who lays a hand on a child and tries to hide from it by calling it "discipline." Hitting a child isn't parenting. It's cowardly bullying. If an adult's reaction is to beat the crap out of a child when he/she gets out of line, that adult probably doesn’t have the emotional and/or mental maturity to be a parent in the first place.
Violence begets violence. I don't want my kids to think that when they get upset with someone, the problem-solving tactic is a butt-whooping. It's time to break the cycle.
What if I smacked my wife because dinner wasn't ready on time or because she "talked back" to me? Chances are I'd get arrested (and rightfully so). But it's somehow OK to do that to a child? Many would say, "Doyin, that's different." Damn right it's different! A grown man or woman can defend themselves, call the cops or get away. A defenseless toddler can't do anything other than cower in fear and wait for the abuse to end.
Many might think I'm just another "hybrid-driving, latte-sipping liberal" responsible for the world getting softer in terms of child discipline. Call me what you want, but I'm not in favor of grownups resorting to violence (and yes, that's what spanking is) to discipline their children. Forget "Spare the rod, spoil the child." How about "Spare the rod, raise the child."
-Doyin Richards, blogger at Daddy Doin’ Work, @daddydoinwork
2. There’s a vast difference between giving your kid a mild swat on the backside and hitting them so hard with a switch, it leaves lacerations on the child’s limbs, which is what Adrian Peterson is accused of and has admitted to doing. That is real violence and certainly crosses a line into child abuse.
It's important to note that numerous laws already exist to protect kids, and school officials, daycare workers and medical professionals are required by law to report child abuse to child protective services.
While child abuse is a very real concern and we want to make sure all kids are in a safe environment, calls for new laws, regulations or checks on parents are an overreaction and could do more harm than good. In fact, parents and child advocates should be concerned about the increasing tendency to criminalize parents for what used to be mundane parenting tactics: From the recent case of child protective services being called on a mom who let her child play outside, to a mom facing criminal charges for allowing her children to remain in an air conditioned car for 10 minutes.
Sadly, there are some bad parents out there, but we need to trust that most parents will make good decisions for their kids, while calling out Adrian Peterson for what he is: A child abuser.
-Julie Gunlock, writer at the Independent Women’s Forum, @JGunlock
3. Everyone has an opinion on spanking and, oftentimes, it’s fueled by how a person was raised. But we’ve got to find a way to establish a baseline. Some parents don’t believe in spanking at all. Some believe that there’s nothing wrong with the sting of a spank for major offenses. And others believe in using wooden spoons, belts and switches.
At what point does discipline turn into abuse? In my household, we don’t spank. I believe that if I hit my child, he’ll learn that hitting is an answer. And in turn, he’ll do anything he can to avoid being hit -- but won’t become a thoughtful decision-maker. He’ll spend his mischievous times avoiding my hand instead of avoiding his own heart and mind.
I’d rather my son know that he can come to me with any problem or issue, or just to say, “Dad, I made a bad decision.” I find that when I want to spank my son the most, I’m feeling like I’m without the language I need to cope with my frustration. So, ultimately, I send my son off to his room to await a talk while I gather my thoughts.
And I’m proud of the times when my son comes to me, upset, not because he thinks I’ll hit him, but because he’s facing the demons of a bad decision. I’m proud simply because he’s come to me. He’s chosen to seek guidance. And as a father, that’s why I’m here.
-Zach Rosenberg, blogger at 8 Bit Dad, @zjrosenberg