Below the belt

Child beating case crosses line between discipline and abuse

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Let’s just start with this basic premise: Children are little people.

Can we all agree on that? They’re not circus animals, they’re not pets, they’re not alien life forms. They’re not even “ours.” They are people just like the rest of us.

If you agree with that, can you agree that they have the right not to be physically or sexually assaulted?

Surely everyone can accept the latter, but we’ll grant that some folks, even in 2013, will argue about the physical. Spare the rod, etc.

Increasingly, however, people are seeing physical discipline as assault – and the poorly-thought-out resort of a parent who is unaware of his or her nonviolent leverage.

In addition, the problem is that so many parents don’t know where to draw the line between a pop on the rear end and physical abuse – particularly in the heat of the moment. Parenting can be the most frustrating thing in the world.

Yet, while the line can be treacherously thin, there’s a huge difference between a spanking and abuse – the kind allegedly inflicted by a father on a son recently in Augusta.

Curtis Tyrone Darby, 39, stands charged with felony cruelty to children in the first degree, after authorities say he beat his son on the back with a belt so badly that wounds were visible from his neck to his waist. The medieval punishment was reportedly for poor school performance.

Folks, that’s not discipline, biblical or otherwise. It’s abuse of a sentient being.

Nor is it likely that it’s an effective way to instill the love of learning in a child.

It’s barbaric and wrong and wrongheaded.

And we would argue it’s just as wrong for circus animals, pets and alien life forms as it is for little people, which we all are at some point.

Physical or verbal abuse of a child – which can scar people for entire lifespans, if they even live beyond childhood – is the mark of a wholly unprepared or dismally lazy or merely troubled parent. It’s not appropriate. Period.

With the breakdown of the extended and even nuclear family, parenting role models and methods simply aren’t in evidence as much as they used to be (though many of those hand-me-down coping skills were, themselves, dysfunctional). Nonetheless, there are no excuses for assaulting children. There are plenty of alternatives available to the thinking man or woman, and a plethora of parenting experts out there to lead you to them.

It’s also amazing how little most of us are schooled in child development. With so many of us raising these precious creatures, who ultimately go on to rule the world, you would think the educational system would put more of an emphasis on explaining the mysterious lilliputians.

Still, common sense and rudimentary observation tell you much. The window between a baby’s innocent incoherence and a toddler’s ability to be reasoned with – and denied things – is open for only the briefest of moments. And there are coping skills you can take through that window with you, if you care.

Sorry, this page may be hopelessly old-fashioned in many areas, but we leave no room for antiquated notions that physical abuse is either an effective child-rearing tool or an acceptable treatment of another living being.

In most cases, it’s a crime.

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myfather15 10/08/13 - 11:42 am
I just get tired of all the

I just get tired of all the liberal non-sense from their "Scientific studies" which they love to hide behind!!

My dad whipped me good, many times. He used whatever was available and close to grab. He used belts, extension cords, switches made from tree limbs, coat hangers and many more.

I NEVER feared my dad, but I sure feared his punishment for doing wrong. My dad was an awesome father and was VERY involved in our lives. Always taking time for us; playing ball, board games, reading and just about anything you could expect. He was involved and at every baseball and football game I played.

But we certainly knew better than to do things we weren't supposed to do. I then joined the Marine Corps to protect and serve this Country; something HE instilled within me!! I now protect and serve those who aren't able to do so theirselves and I do so with a passion!! The absolute JUNK, that spanking (violence to some) begets violence is just that, JUNK!! I don't have a violent bone in my body and the punishment I received growing up would certainly be considered felonious to our wonderful PC liberals today!!

In my opinion and EXPERIENCE those who received righteous (not from drunk parents, etc) physical punishment as children are the most behaved, well disciplined people in society. I'm not talking about the idiototic parents who beat the crap our of their children because they were high or drunk and the child was getting on their nerves. I'm talking about the SOBER, well intentioned parents who did it for discipline ONLY, as my dad did. Thank you dad for your discipline, it made me the man I am today; I can't wait to see you again, one day!!

jimmymac 10/08/13 - 12:45 pm

M parents both believed in corporal punishment and gave it to me when warranted. I hated it then but it set the table for me learning there's consequences in life when you break rules. I lived through it without my self esteem being shattered. From what I've seen with some kids today the spare the rod thing isn't working. I don't believe in beating a child but when started young a swat on the behind does wonders.

dwb619 10/08/13 - 01:05 pm

I have had times when I was so mad at one of the children, I would just walk away. That is NOT the time to administer punishment!

KSL 10/08/13 - 06:13 pm
Younger son

I can remember on one occasion he begged his dad to "spank me, just please stop talking to me." All his dad was doing was "splaining to him" the wrongs he had done. LOL.

dichotomy 10/08/13 - 03:28 pm
"Let’s just start with this

"Let’s just start with this basic premise: Children are little people."

Let's start with the basic premise that all little people need their butts popped to instill in them the fear of swift and slightly stinging results of acting badly.

Beatings are never in order. Usually the children who we read about being beaten receive their beating from a frustrated parent or step parent who cannot control a child, more than likely a "tween", who was never disciplined properly when they were very young. When they get older, it's too late then. They are lost.

Of course, the REAL problem today is that we have a few generations of parents who were never disciplined or taught the limits of social acceptability themselves due to "progressive" thinking, laws, and policies. Now we REALLY have a problem.

myfather15 10/08/13 - 05:12 pm

I agree; when you're angry is not the time to spank them. But, we as parents need to work on controling our emotions as well. Calm down and do what is right. If that's NOT spanking, very well. If it is spanking, then control your emotions and do what you need to do.

burninater 10/08/13 - 07:14 pm
"Though it is not PC any more

"Though it is not PC any more to physically punish a child ..."

It is interesting to me that often when someone has decided that they don't want to behave a certain way, other people that support the behavior claim the other person is acting out of some concern for "PC".

Have you stopped to consider instead that people reject doing something because they think there's a better way to achieve the same result? Not everybody decides to behave a certain way simply because they are obsessed with what others might think, and not every choice that contradicts your choices results from some magical PC force.

dwb619 10/08/13 - 07:42 pm

They had a spanking more than once, but NEVER when I was on the verge of rage.

Bizkit 10/08/13 - 08:38 pm
I was beat daily by my Mom,

I was beat daily by my Mom, my Dad, my brothers, my teachers, my school classmates, my friends. Gosh sounds exhausting. And see I turned out just fine.

Young Fred
Young Fred 10/08/13 - 10:49 pm
To think that you can

To think that you can "reason" with a child is pure chaos. Granted children have different moments in their life when they become able to reason beyond their "wants".

Children need boundaries! They thrive on boundaries. Sometimes a child only understands one thing:

That thing is - my parents won't allow this, if I try otherwise, it will be very unpleasant for me.

To believe otherwise, is the very reason we are having to take a long hard look at today's youth!

I believe the letter writers heart is probably in the right place, being sickened by the abuse he's read about.

A good parent can be firm without abuse. But then again, I guess it's all dependent on how you define. There is a line you don't cross, anything under that line, that helps a child become a better person, by it's very definition, cannot be called abuse.

GodisSoGood 10/09/13 - 09:29 am
Rule of Thumb

A spanking is a pop, either with the hand or an object, that leaves nothing more than a temporary mark on the skin. Anything beyond that is abuse.

My parents spanked me as a kid with a belt. I was NOT abused, and the belt did not break the skin or leave any bruises. most of all, i was taught to RESPECT authority of all kinds. The problem wih society today is that parents want to be friends with the child, to be the cool parent. If kids are not taught to respect their parents, they will NOT respect authority.

I know some children whose parents refuse to administer corporal punishment. As a result of "time-out", the kids are very disrespectful to all adults, both in the home and in public. I have seen this first-hand. What seemed "cute" when the children were 2 or 3 is not so cute when they hit 5 or 6 years of age.

A good spanking is what every child needs at least once in their life. I have 2 children and can count on one hand the number of times I have had to really give them a good spanking. All it took is that one or two good spankings for them to realize that I meant business. My kids never knew the concept of time-out.

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