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Stop The Spankings: Hitting Children Is Always Wrong

With all of the attention being paid to the NFL for the numerous players fighting assault charges, there has been quite a bit of discussion about disciplining children. Adrian Peterson apologized for hurting his son, but clung to the notion that beating his four-year-old with a stick so hard that it left welts for more than a week is not abuse but harsh parental discipline. This is utter nonsense.

As a child, I was hit often. Not so much that I’d call it abuse, but enough that if a police officer from 2014 had showed up at our door some nights, my mother would have had to retain an attorney. After almost every instance of physical punishment, my mother would be wracked with guilt and offered tearful apologies.

When I became a parent, I thought for certain I would continue the pattern with my own daughter. One day at an Italian restaurant my daughter, barely four-years-old, punched her mother in the face. I was then instructed to engage in the time-honored parenting tradition of taking the child to the bathroom, in order to have a bit of privacy while I beat her. I smacked her on the backside once and immediately hated myself. The look on her face showed that the only “lesson” she learned was that the people she trusted the most could hurt her.

Just like bloodletting and giving kids whisky when they are teething, the practice of hitting your children should die. It’s not about teaching them things – patience and calm are often the best teaching aides for children under five that I’ve ever encountered – but instead about (sometimes literally) lashing out your parental frustrations through corporal punishment.

When my daughter was very young, no older than three, I wanted to teach her to avoid the stove. Rather than smacking her hands, I stood with her and turned on the fire and said “Hot” followed by “No touch.” She got it almost immediately and, now at the age of 13, still avoids the stove in favor of the microwave.

I am sure that anyone reading this has a strong opinion one way or another. Please share your thoughts, opinions, and experiences in the comments below.

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.