corporal punishment

I know the church does not necessarily forbid it. but are there some guidelines?

I’ve noticed in different cultures, the idea of corporal punishment takes on different forms.
for some, slapping children across the face is normal, other use brooms, belts, ETC… hitting kids that make mistakes in piano lessons is also normal or pushing them over on the ground and kicking them. I also had a professor once who taught in south Africa say that he had to learn to hit kids with a wooden ruler when he was over there because everyone expected that

I realize that this sort of thing used to be prevalent in western culture as well. priests and nuns would administer punishments in schools and such

of course, I know children are not supposed to be abused. but when is the line crossed in to abuse. most of the parents I described above do not believe it is abuse and that the child “deserves” that kind of punishment

I’m looking for a catholic perspective please

I suppose responses will vary. In western culture these days there seems to be a shift from the stereotypical nuns with rulers, to no spanking…

However pope Francis weighed in on corporal punishment by talking about it being acceptable perhaps even beautiful, though he thinks facial strikes would be out of bounds. The context of his comments are up for discussion. This thread will most likely get pretty wild… Hold on…

Common sense. Like anything.
Want to be beaten? No. So… Don’t beat your kids.
Discipline doesn’t necessarily mean corporal punishment. Most kids know when a parent is greatly upset. Kids who have never ever been disciplined seldom respond to any sort of discipline. That’s where the danger lies. Far too many people wait…believing children are too young to understand boundaries. Out of frustration, people can cross lines.
Parents have a duty to raise their children to be good.
I’ll stop there before this thread gets closed. :wink:

Reason and virtue.

We are to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.

In the Atlantic nations, physical punishment seems to have been Caesared out. Only a few days ago, in my state, a father went to jail for hitting his kid with a belt. I take that to mean such is no longer welcome, although it was in the past.


well, that’s sort of my point, in several cultures, that kind of thing is common sense

I agree with you about the need for discipline obviously. and I think far too often, lines to get crossed. I haven’t seen much disciplining happening unless the parents are in a fit of rage, which generally does not go well.

wow! I’m 38 and I used to get the belt from time to time, but I was warned before hand.

And my parents NEVER left marks.

To me… crossing the line is when a parent either (a) leaves a mark or (b) one who never spanks, does so in anger.

It’s important to be consistent. If you spank, do so without being angry. If you don’t spank, don’t start when angry.

What is the significance of “leaving a mark”?

If it does not involve maiming, it is hardly a morally relevant question. Nothing particularly wrong, nothing particularly good with corporal punishment.

I remember watching a Russian movie “Leviathan” in a London theater. The movie is sad and tragic, lots of tragic scenes. But the only single time when the audience audibly gasped was quite an innocent by Russian standards scene where the father slaps his son at the back of the head for his rudeness towards the stepmother. :confused:

Do I really need to explain that?

Leaving a mark (bruise, cut, 1st degree burn marks, an imprint of the belt or hand) is a clear sign that the corporal punishment is too hard.

If you disagree with corporal punishment, that’s your perogrative. I for one do not think its abuse on its own merit, and can be an affective tool in rearing children when done properly & with love.

When I was in 7th grade, they were still using the paddle as a punishment. Kids who got in trouble had a choice: all day, in school suspension (with only peanut butter & jelly for lunch) or a paddle for each day of in-school suspension.

The paddle even had holes drilled into it to make it move through the air faster.

Keep in mind, this was PUBLIC SCHOOL and it was the 1989/1990 school year.

NOTE: we do not spank my kids because my wife is against it. Instead my wife yells like a crazy person. I personally think yelling is far worse and more damaging than a quick pat on the bottom.

The benchmark of “leave a mark” is arbitrary. Another benchmark might be “causes the child to cry”. That is also arbitrary. The religious brothers at my highschool did not accept either of those benchmark. I don’t in general reject corporal punishment. We may all have different views on acceptable severity.

As someone who received an inconsistent mix of corporal punishment, I can tell you the biggest factor is consistency.

My father smacked us, open-palmed, about the head, often hard enough to knock us down. I could hear his teeth creak before he struck, and had to sit there and take it or he only hit harder.

He never left a mark.

Nor was it cold and distant. He left the distinct impression that he hit us only when he became enraged. It was personal, not justice.

That lost him my respect as a parent, and gained him my scorn as a tyrant.

Taking away the book I was reading or the GameBoy I was playing was far, far more effective, but he didn’t see that.

Hitting me worked to a degree, but would have been better if he didn’t use it as his outlet for anger.

It’s a far cry from the mother telling the father what happened when he gets home, and the father coldly administering a punishment in which he has no emotional involvement. That would feel more like justice.

My father raised us while my mother worked, and he clearly lacked the patience for petty, day-to-day aggravations.

Heed a warning from someone who lived it.

Yes, that’s why I said never out of anger. I also believe that there are only 2 places where a spank is ok: the bottom and the hand. No head, no face, no chest, back, etc

Yes, well, spanking becomes inappropriate at some point, and he didn’t stop applying hand to head until I reached 18. And only because I called him out and refused to flinch, thus taking away his power, because I chose not to fear. This made him angry and initiated a period of adjustment, after which he had to treat me somewhat like a human being.

It took awhile, but I gained at least a half measure of respect for him after he dropped the outright tyranny.

Btw, I was not disagreeing with you, merely demonstrating and reinforcing the point.:shrug:

so how can a child know if the parent is physically abusing them? wait until they are actually maimed?

or just accept all of it as “punishment”. because I can tell you firsthand, it causes many wounds and damage even if there is technically no mark being left

that is the point of this thread. to some kids, if it is pretty severe, it can seem like abuse even if it is not technically leaving a mark

sure, if a person manages to pull it off not out of anger. problem is, I think that rarely happens, at least from what I know

NOTE: we do not spank my kids because my wife is against it. Instead my wife yells like a crazy person. I personally think yelling is far worse and more damaging than a quick pat on the bottom.

As I said back in the day,

It is perfectly possible to inflict grievous psychological harm upon a child without using physical force of any kind, via tongue lashing, standing in the corner, etc.

Conversely, it is possible to spank in a wise manner and not inflict harm.



I might also add that so-called “non-corporal” forms of punishment, such as “silent treatment” and threats to abandon / send away a child, can actually do far more harm than corporal punishment if misused or used indiscriminately. :frowning:

That question can arise in matters other than physical abuse. How can children be expected to judge?

These days, there is a great deal more emphasis conveyed to children about their “personal rights” than there is about their obligation to respect their parents’ authority. Some children appear to have formed a view - or been fed the view - that any form of corporal punishment is an abuse of some kind.

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