Marriage and Family Therapist
Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross is a licensed psychotherapist with almost twenty years of clinical experience in the fields of clinical psychology and organizational management. She has worked extensively with a wide variety of…
Long-Term Effects of Physical Abuse and Severe Corporal Punishment
Posted in Physical & Emot... by Cyndi Sarnoff-Ross on Nov 10, 2011
Physical abuse of children has long term side effects. This is a fact no one can deny. The recent news and release of the disturbing videotape of Texas Judge, William Adams, beating his daughter Hillary Adams has once again shone a spotlight on this type of cruelty. Her story as she tells it, like so many others, was one of repeated verbal and physical abuse. The media hasn’t gone into great detail about how this abuse has colored Hillary’s life, but it is safe to assume that there have been long term negative ramifications.

Spanking or swatting has been used since the beginning of time as a way to correct negative behaviors and frankly for parents to let off steam. In some families and even some cultures this is more the norm than in others. While I don’t recommend any type of corporal punishment as a parenting tool there is a difference between the controlled spankings of some families and the type of abuse we witnessed on the video released by Hillary Adams. For some the difference may be philosophical, but the line between corporal punishment and abuse, is becoming fuzzier.

The reality is while kids aren’t permanently scarred by the occasional swat on a clothed bottom, many parents struggle to hold that line and there is no evidence that the swat is actually even effective. When parents have access to other more effective ways of disciplining, and are able to set clear boundaries for their children, they are less likely to need to employ the use of spanking.

Children who are subject to constant physical reprimanding suffer from a host of mental health issues as a result. As adults they present with disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress, Depression, and Anxiety to name just a few. Studies have even shown an elevated risk of heart disease related to childhood trauma. Many struggle their entire lives to engage in healthy satisfying relationships and sadly, when they become parents themselves, they often use the same tactics to discipline their children as the ones that have destroyed their own lives. In choosing a mate these individuals are frequently drawn to someone who will mimic the violence they experienced in their childhood as an unconscious way to try to fix what they could not in an abusive parent. It is also emotionally familiar territory.

Children need to feel safe in their home; otherwise they will grow up feeling unsafe in the world. For those who have experienced this type of upbringing it is crucial that you seek counseling to explore the effects of these experiences and to obtain tools to prevent those effects from defining your life as an adult.

- Cyndi

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In light of Judge Adams video,

We often hear from those who fight to uphold this practice for those under the age of 18 (even to the blaming of the social maladies of the day on a supposed "lack" of it), but we rarely, if ever, find advocates for the return of corporal punishment to the general adult community, college campuses, inmate population, or military. Why is that?

Ask ten unyielding proponents of child/adolescent/teenage-only "spanking" about the "right" way to do it, and what would be abusive, indecent, or obscene, and you will get ten different answers.

These proponents should consider making their own video-recording of the "right way" to do it.

Visit Unlimited Justice or Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education to learn more and add your voice.
By Phd Everit  Nov 14, 2011
Research/recommended reading:

Spanking Can Make Children More Aggressive Later

Spanking Kids Increases Risk of Sexual Problems

Use of Spanking for 3-Year-Old Children and Associated Intimate Partner Aggression or Violence

Spanking Children Can Lower IQ

Plain Talk About Spanking
by Jordan Riak

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
by Tom Johnson
By Phd Everit  Nov 14, 2011
Good grief Charlie Brown! Punishment of children with beatings and humiliation like this do more than inflict pain on the body, they strip away self esteem, and inflict a lifetime sentence of damage to the victim. 'Jes' sayin'
By russocomedy  Nov 14, 2011
There is no limit to abuse when we make control our goal. Substituting emotional punishment for physical punishment is no solution. Many people find emotional abuse far more damaging than physical abuse.
There can never be one form of power that will work with a child. Parental respect is not about power, but the ability to match the type of power with a child's need. If a child is hungry because dinner was an hour late, one should cook dinner, not spank them for whining. If a child is about to run into the street, a firm hold is much better than a spanking. On the other hand, if the hand is already reaching out to touch the hot stove, slapping back the hand is far better than allowing the child to be burnt. If self-control is the issue, one must teach tools for self-control, not force it externally with violence. And so on. There is no instant recipe for being a caring parent, just one long series of choices about what is best in that particular circumstance for that particular child.
By Elisheva  Nov 11, 2011
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By mimama  Nov 11, 2011
I know that there is a huge difference in spanking a child and beating or abusing a child. I've observed that children who are reasoned with are sometimes beneficially different...and others are disrespectful of everyone. I often wonder where the healthy line is? Animals discipline their young as a teaching tool and preparation for survival. I personally never spanked my choice as a parent who did receive corporal punishment. I hope she does better than I have....but seems to lack some respect for others....even though we talked about that a lot. So, where is that line? Don't know. But, beating a child gains nothing but a very angry person...I do know that.
By Learningskills  Nov 10, 2011
To all those parents who think "hit a child and he'll learn", I can tell you that my father told me that I was an idiot, hit me for it, but he never, never explained things so I could grow out of idiocy. I believed for a very long time that I was an idiot, especially at maths. My wife rescued me somehow. she told me to take a maths A level. I did it. I conquered my fears, because she was my mentor and I had a super teacher who was not shy at all. He would describe every step that I needed to take to solve the most difficult of equations, differential equations. I did it. I say to my father, you told me I was an idiot, you punished me, you never helped me. Fuck off! Because I found the right people who don't mind me making mistakes and even don't mind explaining the steps out of them. So father, fuck off! You damaged me, deliberately, a sort of Nazi bully, with no pity, no compassion.
By Michelangelo  Nov 10, 2011
I used to teache parenting classes,all had used belts and hands to punished children that by then were worse in their behavior,
When we would start working with time out, etc; children reacted with emotional pain,it took time for them to learn that beatings were not a show of care and love.
Parents that had had terrible abuse from their parents did not know any other way.
But now living in a Bible Belt, I hear and see parents that do not see anything wrong with using belts, canes, shoes, hands to beat children, including babies. It is horrible.
If an adult would treat another adult the way children are thy would be in jail for criminal assault.
By deraming  Nov 10, 2011
If you are laying a hand on your child, or anyone else, you're doing something wrong before the fact.

Don't let striking your child ever be about one of your issues.

Violence is the tool of the ignorant.
By Tigerpaws  Nov 10, 2011
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