Spanking Children – An accepted form of child abuse?

    Have you ever seen a child being spanked for doing something naughty? 

    For most Indians, the sight of a child being spanked or beaten (not enough to cause harm, of course) is a very normal sight. In fact, most Indians have been spanked by their parents/teachers/elders at least once in their life. For a culture that frowns upon people using bad language in front of kids, we are disturbingly complacent about someone raising their hand on a child. We even have proverbs about it in each regional language.

   I never thought twice about it, until my daughter was born. Sam’s birth sparked off bone-deep uneasiness in me, about the whole ‘spare the rod; and you will spoil the child’ concept. Every time I thought about it, I was overcome with horror. 

    I soon realized that this reaction was very different from the sadness and guilt I felt, when I scolded her or shouted at her ‘for her own good’. This horror was because it felt fundamentally and absolutely wrong to do something like that to a defenseless child. My very soul rebelled against this act. But when I tried to share this feeling with experienced parents around me, they said it was fine. They said that it’s sometimes required….only then do kids understand really important concepts. But I could not convince myself on this. Every time I tried, these were the questions my conscience asked me….

  • How come hitting a child is acceptable, while hitting an adult is not? We look at people, who raise their hands on adults, with such censure and horror. I have heard of so many marriages or relationships break up because one partner raised their hand on the other. Then how can we justify hitting children? Aren’t children humans too? Don’t they warrant as much, if not more, protection as adults? Are mild spankings truly harmless? 

  • How can I justify to my child that I am allowed to hit or spank her, but she is not allowed to hit another child or elder? How can I explain to her why hitting another person is wrong? Children learn by example. If you hit her today, she will surely hit someone tomorrow.

  • Is it really an effective disciplinary action, as people claim? The child may obey you due to fear, but that does not mean that the habit or value you tried to instill in her was truly absorbed by her. She may just do it when your back is turned and learn how to hide it better from you. 

  • You are your child’s universe. She believes you will keep her safe from harm and pain. Her trust is blind and absolute. How can you betray that trust? How can you ever meet those wounded eyes? For that matter, how can you meet your own eyes?

  • Accidents can occur! However softly you hit a child, the fact is that you are a big grownup while they are such tiny and fragile beings. They can easily fall or hit some furniture and hurt themselves. If something like that happens you wouldn’t be able to forgive yourselves….ever.

  You may say, “we all grew up like this, but none of us turned out bad”. But let me ask you this... Is that sufficient justification for hitting a child? Are we planning to continue doing this until something bad happens?

  I have vowed not to raise my hand on a child, no matter what the provocation. I know it may not be easy to discipline without spanking... but I don't want to see the trust in my daughter's eyes decrease by even one iota....ever.  

Can you suggest a good disciplinary action as an alternative to spanking? Please let me know the tips and tricks by leaving comments.