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.