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CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

Anne Skelton, the grandmother of our pupil at Bohol CHILD Head Start, wrote me an email and shared her thoughts about domestic violence among children. She feels that the problem, which is damaging to children, is not aired enough. She has seen and heard very young children being chastised and beaten almost every day and according to her, this leads to children’s low self esteem and other personality problems.

 

I totally agree with Anne. Children chastised and beaten by their parents should be made a criminal offense. But minimal spanking, as far as I am concerned, can be incorporated in the process of disciplining our children without actually damaging their self-worth and reducing our integrity.

Why do I say so? Because I do spank my kids, and for good reasons and with strict conditions. I believe that spanking can curtail behavior although only in the short-term. But spanking must be used only if the parent and the child have established a relationship of deep trust and love so that spanking is seen not as a form of rejection but correction motivated by love. Before a parent spanks, he/she must understand why, when, where, and how to spank.

I use spanking very seldom and only as a last resort. I do spank because I feel that my children trust me so much that they allow me to inflict a little bit of pain on a specific part of their body so that they will be reminded that while they are given enough freedom, they sometimes go beyond the boundaries and hurt others or themselves in the process.

I only spank when I am not angry or when I am clearly in command of my anger. That is the danger of corporal punishment. Most parents exercise this when they are at the height of their frustration and anger and more often than not, they lash at their children consumed by their anger and inability to manage their children’s behavior. Reports have it that thousands of children around the world die, get injured, and are handicapped because of corporal punishment.

Where do we spank? We spank in private because the humiliation the child gets when it is done in public would be rubbing salt to his/her wound. Aside from spanking with controlled anger, I believe there is only one body area which is considered safe for spanking, and that is the buttocks. The fats will cushion the contact but can still be considerably felt. If possible, we should not use any implements like belt, stick, or any another material other than our palm so that we can directly feel the impact and so therefore can moderate it, otherwise it will be dangerous.

After spanking, we should not leave the child on his/her own. The parent must stay with the child until his feelings are processed and he is soothed, making him understand that while you are angry and hurt at what your child did, you are not in any way rejecting him/her.

Corporal punishment does not only refer to physical inflictions of pain. It may also involve verbal abuse. In my home, I have made it a point that expletives are banned. We are too precious, and my children for that matter,  to be called “maldito” “boang” “bulok” “way buot” and other verbal abuses. Again, for parents, a deep appreciation of people’s value will help us put our actions and behaviors in perspective.

Most parents admit that they get hurt whenever they hurt their children. But most of them do what they do because that is what they got from their very own parents. As I have said previously, parenting is a learned behavior. How we were raised by our own parents will most likely be the style that we will employ. And most often than not, our parents incorporated corporal punishment in disciplining us and you bet, harshly so.

I appreciate Anne for raising the issue again. I remember that I wrote about this and about parenting when I started to write a column in this paper. I am for an anti-corporal punishment law which clearly defines what is allowed and not and a legislation that puts heavy emphasis on educating parents about how to be positive role models to their children.

In Bohol Child Head Start, we incorporate parenting as part of the curriculum. We believe that it is too valuable to be left on some sporadic readings and seminars alone. It must be a collaborative effort that is as well continuous.

The ill effects of corporal punishment outweigh its benefits, if there is any at all. It is therefore imperative that we educate ourselves. As parents, we need to strive to learn positive ways to discipline our children that we come to a point where we can say that spanking or any other form of corporal punishment is not necessary to show love and care.

For your comments, email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.boholchild.com. You can also listen to me at station DYRD AM every Sunday morning at 7:30 in the morning. 

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