Child Discipline vs. Abuse

According to literature, the family is the most violent social group, with parental mistreatment of children being the most significant form of domestic violence, according to Smith, Delores, and Gail (369). Some developed countries, such as Japan, Sweden, and the United States of America, appear to have moved away from harsh punishment of children and toward a gentler and more appropriate method of disciplining them without necessarily harming them. Nonetheless, in some countries, such as Jamaica and the Caribbean, children are still subjected to severe or corporal punishment when they sin, whether knowingly or unknowingly. It is solely the responsibility of parents to educate and familiarize their children with the rules, morals, values, and what society expects of them in the community. However, the use of corporal punishment as the child discipline approach is both unethical and ineffective, where for example, spanking or hitting a child will teach him/her to be violent. Therefore, the paper focuses on defining child discipline and abuse, discuss implications resulting from child abuse (corporal punishment), reccommendations, and the conclusion of the study.

Children Discipline and Abuse

As stated in All About God website, “Child Abuse vs. Discipline” the distinction between abusing a child or disciplining seem apparent for most of the parents or guardians. In fact, to the parents who are inexperienced or illiterate, with no clue of drawing the line between the two, there may be some confusion that may negatively affect the child’s life. According to Fréchette, Michael, and Elisa, children abuse is anything that could leave a child emotionally or physically scarred for life (135). It consists of anything that impairs or endangers the kid’s emotional and physical development and well-being. Apparently, there are various categories of abuse, such as sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, to name a few. For easy identification of whether a kid has been abused or mistreated, there are some warnings or signs that an individual should look upon before coming up with any conclusion. The symptoms can include weird behavior, sudden drug uptake, or even suicide attempts.

On the other hand, child discipline is a positive parental response to a particular wrongdoing. In simple terms, disciplining a child is a form of training, and it is a sole responsibility of every parent or guardian to teach and train their children on the appropriate actions and behaviors. It means a child expects to be rectified positively if he/she fails to meet some expectations. Consequently, children are born innocent, not knowing what is acceptable, how to behave, or what people expect from them. Therefor, parents or guardians have to invest both their patience and time in teaching their young ones, show a lot of love, care and concern, and model excellent behavioral response to the kids in the mirror. Apparently, nobody who promised parents that the job would be easy, so they need to be committed.

Negative Implications of Corporal Punishment (Child Abuse)

One of the child abuse approaches is spanking. Many parents believe that if done appropriately, physical discipline is the most effective approach to correct a kid. However, spanking plant and waters a seed of violent behavior to the children. The first lesson that kid gets from spanking is that they think the physical action is acceptable and right, where they need to hit someone so that they can comply or follow the laid down procedures. They perceive that spanking another individual by inflicting pain on their body can get them what they want to be done. Nevertheless, kids are not mature enough to reason that hitting is applicable in some situations that must be extreme and demanding. Even when the kids grow up and learn that spanking is wrong, they have seen their guardians or parents doing it to them for several years; therefore, they accept the fact that spanking is right, and it is the correct way to rectify a mistake.

Furthermore, children develop a notion that a prominent person has a right to spank a little person without anybody questioning him/her (Gregory & Fritz 2). Since they cannot fight against their parents when they hit them, they perceive that when a young person get spanked, he/she has no choice but to admit the response and move on. Again, kids know that they are younger physically compared to their guardians; therefore, they cannot retaliate or react against them no matter what they do for them. Unfortunately, the response teaches them that an older person can spank a small individual without fear and questioning.

Another problem is that a kid who gets spanked frequently behaves out of fear, instead of using their conscience or instinct. These children act responsibly because they are afraid of their parents hitting them when they make a mistake. Consequently, spanking seems to serve its initial intention which is to rectify an error and make sure that the kid will never commit such a wrong in the future, but it fails to instill a lively consciousness or sense of acting responsibly because a given response or action is right or wrong. Again, according to Marguerite’s post on “Discipline Vs. Abuse,” spanking confuses and humiliates the child, which in long-run lowers his/her self-esteem. If the response continues, the kid turns to be fearful, anxious, making him a playground bully. The kid cannot try anything new no matter how significant it seems because their parents discourage them from keeping on attempting. More so, when the parents are not present, the child may perceive that there is no need to behave. Unfortunately, a guardian may pass away, and since the kid used to behave correctly because of being frequently spanked, they may not have a reason to act responsibly. Therefore, when the kid’s response or actions are based on fear or anxiety of being hit, they cannot make firm decisions which might adversely affect them in the future (Fréchette, Michael and Elisa 141).

Again, child abuse informs of corporal punishment is a serious matter, which is associated with physical harm and sometimes may result in death kids who are young and weak (Fréchette, Michael and Elisa 137). In 2014, the Child Abuse and Neglect National Statistics indicated that almost 1,100 kids die annually in the US due to abuse and neglect. Worldwide, nearly 20% of children in one way or another get physically abused (Fréchette, Michael and Elisa 138). As a result, these challenges cause abnormal growth of critical brain regions, which led to impaired development. Again, some kids suffer cuts, bruises, or severely broken bones, and bleeding, which when not taken to the hospital can cause death. In fact, to some nations such as Jamaica, every day, three out of ten kids die due to abuse. It means, when a child has an abusive parent, they must suffer physical consequences, which there is a high probability it will be channeled to their kids when they get families.

Corporal punishment has psychological consequences also, which adversely affect their mental development. Studies affirm that kids who get abused inform of disciplining them must have one of the psychological implications. For example, approximately 80% of the 20 years old who were abused when young met the criteria for at least one mental complication (Bifulco, Antonia, et al. 251). These young people develop complications such as eating disorders, anxiety, suicide attempts, post-traumatic stress disorders, among others. Apparently, the immediate emotional implications of child abuse and mistreatment are fear, isolation, inability to trust, depression and relationship difficulties. The withdrawal and depression symptoms are the common among the kids of as little as three years who experienced either physical, emotional, or environmental negligence or mistreat. Due to this abuse, kids acquire dramatic impacts when they are young, which make them develop psychological consequences, and since they experienced rejection and spanks, they are more likely to possess violent attributes or antisocial characters (Bifulco, Antonia, et al.252)

Supporting Corporal Punishment

There are some reasons why corporal punishment which some people mistake it for child abuse is the most effective means of punishment. According to Miller, Cindy, and Robin, the primary advantage with corporal punishment is that it is the only practical approach to discipline the unruly children (68). Apparently, the opponents of corporal punishment argue that the power of physical punishment does not instill behaviors or manners, but provokes further misbehavior and resentment. However, centuries have proved that spanking kids have produced more civilized and reliable young people. A practical example is during the American Occupation in the Philippines, where spanking and any other form of corporal punishment were applied to all the students who disobeyed the school rules, to be particular, the English-only rule. The approach led to the production of more disciplined Filipino students, who turned to be multilingual and academically competent (Miller, Cindy, and Robin 69).

Nevertheless, in the current world, with the prohibition and restrictions of corporal punishment under the human right laws, there is a rapid rise in the number of juvenile delinquents every year. Consequently, the infliction of physical pain by spanking or whipping is associated with disciplining the wrongdoing kids, where they can realize their mistakes, and end up not repeating them. Therefore, corporal punishment is the most practical form of punishing the unruly kids than any other means (Engulu &Kevin 6).

Again, the supporters of corporal punishment argue that spanking or whipping does not lead to violence; instead, our media and surrounding world do (Engulu &Kevin 5). Most of the psychologists and authorities believe that spanking the kid breaks their spirit and leads to violence. They merely conclude that the kids turn to be angry, depressed, hostile, where they have conducted numerous studies to prove their stand. However, there is a significant difference between abusing a kid and adequately disciplining a child. Most of the parents may whip their kids, but end up not harming them either physically or emotionally.

The excessive use of force, when whipping or spanking the young ones is different from careless and merciless physical punishment. In fact, if a child is beaten for an apparent reason, he/she will never repeat a mistake. Again, violence results from our environment and the technology that we all use daily. For instance, a kid who is sixteen-years-old may have watched more than 15, 000 murder movies and videos during his formative age, not forgetting the daily bombardment of shootings, hangings, stabling, general dismemberment, and decapitations (Engulu &Kevin 7). Therefore, it is unjust and unfair to blame those guardians who are trying hard to bring up their kids properly to violence. A good illustration is where if a kid touches a hot cooking pan, he/she does not turn to be violent because of it; instead, he learns not to reach it again because the pain has taught him a lesson.


Apply parenting education. As stated by Smith, Delores, and Gail, the programs associated with educating parents have shown significant implications as both intervention and prevention tools in protecting the kids from physical abuse and changing the parental behavior (377). These procedures educate the parents on the techniques to put in place to acquire resources to bring up their young ones. Apparently, most of the states should implement parental education in schools, where children start learning about them immediately after they join the classes at their tender age so that they grow with the know-how of handling their children when they commit mistakes. Again, the teenage parents should have some training on how to raise up kids, and how to discipline them since they are more prone to anger and stress.

Counseling is another crucial step to embrace. Anger, anxiety, stress, and emotional pain to most of the caregivers lives frequently lead to child abuse. States and agencies should provide counseling programs to the parents to assist them to alleviate and manage persistent stress in families with children (Smith, Delores and Gail 378). In fact, corporal punishment in children may be aggravated by persistent frustrations that parents may have kept, piling up. For instance, in Jamaica, most of the kids suffer psychosis and psychiatric disorders due to parental abuse who live in absolute poverty. Therefore, the guidance and counseling programs to address the mental needs of family members and their kids is essential.

Home visitation is another strategy that the policymaker should consider. The home visitation programs with the use of skilled and trained professional enhance change in parent’s knowledge, attitude, and parenting behavior. These bodies provide parents with practical assistance, social support, and at the same time offer training services to parents on appropriate parenting (Smith, Delores and Gail 378). The trained personnel are mostly the parents who feel confident in their parenting abilities, they have the skills of managing stress, and they have various methods of disciplining their kids without necessarily causing any harm to them. They assist their colleagues in preventing or reducing child maltreatment.


Raising a socially responsible young generation as affirmed by Smith, Delores, and Gail is an essential aspect of life that every parent dreams of and works hard to attain. The future of any state relies on the current children; which means, there is a significant need to provide the highest care and concern to them to tame their behaviors. Since every kid is born innocent, not knowing what is right or wrong, it is the sole responsibility of every stakeholder to combine hands and offer adequate disciplinary training to our future generation. In most instances, children spend most of their time with their parents or guardians; therefore, they are more eligible to ensure that kids grow knowing the right social values, norms, and conducts. However, instilling this kind of discipline does not mean that parents should apply excessive force in the form of corporal punishments. Instead, they should use the right strategies and procedures to teach their kids about what is wrong and what is right. Again, as discussed above corporal punishment results to more harm to children than good; therefore, it should be avoided, and adequate strategies put across to fight against any form of child abuse.

Works Cited

All About God. Child abuse vs. discipline – What’s the difference? All About. (2017).

Bifulco, Antonia, et al. “Exploring psychological abuse in childhood: II. Association with other abuse and adult clinical depression.” Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 66.3 (2002): 241-258.

Engulu, Furaha C., and Kevin A. Harris. “Spanking, Ethnicity, Gender, and Religion: The Development of a Spanking Scale.” International Journal of Scholarly Academic Intellectual Diversity 19.1 (2017).

Fréchette, Sabrina, Michael Zoratti, and Elisa Romano. “What is the link between corporal punishment and child physical abuse?” Journal of Family Violence 30.2 (2015): 135-148.

Gregory K., Fritz, M.D. Child and Adolescent Behavior Letter. Betty Rawlsian. USA. (2001)

Marguerite Kelly. “Discipline Vs: Abuse. Democracy Dies in Darkness.” THE WASHINGTON POST, October 10, 1991,

Miller-Perrin, Cindy, and Robin Perrin. “Changing attitudes about spanking among conservative Christians using interventions that focus on empirical research evidence and progressive biblical interpretations.” Child Abuse & Neglect (2017).

Smith, Delores E., and Gail Mosby. “Jamaican child-rearing practices: The role of corporal punishment.” Adolescence38.150 (2003): 369.

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