This post is going to be short and to the point.
There was an incident in Florida that made it to the news a few weeks ago. I was discussing it with some other mothers, and we all came to the same conclusions.
First, here is a link to the article. If you don’t feel like clicking, I’ll sum it up for you.
According to her father, a 12 year old girl had apparently gotten into a violent argument with her sister. His reaction was to call the police and have them supervise while he struck his daughter four times with a wooden paddle. He claimed that the police needed to be present so that his daughter couldn’t claim that he was abusing her.
This is disturbing on several levels.
She was an adolescent. This is the age when girls start having “boyfriends”, when they get their periods and start discovering more of their sexuality. How mortifying to be hit in a sexual area in front of two grown men, one of which is a total stranger. I don’t believe this was the fathers intention, but to hit a girl in a sexualized area against her consent, that’s borderline sexual abuse. If you don’t think that spanking an older girl can be sexual, google the word spank. I just did it and 80% of the links were porn. I believe that’s proof enough.
The father described his daughters confrontation with her sister as violent. I’m assuming he felt that the situation was out of control. Instead of regaining control through peaceful means, he instead used violent means. I wonder where his daughter learned her relationship skills. Teaching a child not to hit, by hitting doesn’t work. It doesn’t even make sense. Children act out what is modeled in front of them. If you want to teach your children not to hit, don’t hit.
This point was brought up by another mother. Her exact wording was, “If you feel that you need a witness to do it, should you really be doing it? There is such a gray area within corporal punishment. The general consensus among pro-spankers is that it’s ok as long as it doesn’t leave marks.
So what is a mark? A bruise, redness, something that lasts for a few days? Everyone’s definition is different.
I think deep down we all know that hitting is hitting, and the argument not to leave marks is an attempt to justify hitting children.I think deep down that father knew how quickly what he was doing could escalate and get out of control. I think he knew that hitting a teenage girl with a piece of wood just didn’t seem right.
Every nine seconds a woman in the US is assaulted or beaten. Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
The father definitely taught his daughter a few lessons. But the lessons that will stick with her won’t be that she shouldn’t hit others.
The first lesson that she learned is that men can hit women. That women can do things that chalk up to them “deserving” to be hit. What’s more, those men that hit those women do it because they “love them”. The only difference between a man slapping his wife and a father spanking his daughter is a social construct.
This is my final point. It was also brought up by another mother, and with her permission, these are her words.
“I recently read an article about institutional betrayal being more damaging than familial abuse. For example, a girl is molested by a youth pastor, a child is abused in a daycare center. The abuse is swept under the rug. Not only is the victim traumatized by the act, but they are re traumatized by the failure of the government body at large to protect them.
Now this girl knows that if someone wants to hit her, the police aren’t going to care anyway.
Let me end on this.
Is it ok to hit a spouse?
Is it ok to hit a friend?
Is ok for a boss to hit an employee?
Is it ok to hit a mentally disabled person?
Is it even ok to hit a dog?
Most people would (rightfully) answer no to all of the above questions. So is it then, ok to hit a child? The answer is also no. It is not ok. It is never ok to resolve a situation through violence. It is never ok to hit a child in any way. Children deserve the same rights as everyone else.
Statistics provided by http://domesticviolencestatistics.org/domestic-violence-statistics/