When Is Spanking Child Abuse?

Oct 21, 2008 Full story: New York Times 79

A hearing is underway in a Wisconsin courtroom , for Barry Barnett, a 43-year-old pastor.

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CP Prosecutions

Marion, MI

#1 Oct 25, 2008
This is an outrageous and absurdly frivolous prosecution. Wisconsin has a reasonable force law allow parents to physically punish their kids, but Wisconsin DA's have a long history of pretending it doesn't exist. Concerned parents and others should join the CP Prosecutions list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cp_prosecutions
Republican voter

Worcester, MA

#2 Nov 1, 2008
Spanking is far from child abuse, its disipline thats all that is
madgranny

Fairwater, WI

#3 Mar 12, 2009
The trial date for Pastor Barry is July 16th. Any concerned citizens join a peaceful protest at the Columbia County courthouse at 8am.
Jennie

Oconto, WI

#4 Mar 18, 2009
If you cannot think of any other way to punish a child other than hitting, you should not be left alone with a child.
hairyfrog

Auburn, AL

#5 Mar 19, 2009
I don't have the time to read through all of the comments (I see that they cover the spectrum), but there are 3 points made that I want to disagree with, one in the article, and 2 in readers' comments:

"Isnít all hitting child abuse? Thatís what the hearing in Wisconsin is trying to decide." But earlier, we find: "used a wooden paddle to punish his 12-year-old son for lying last spring. But they differ on whether THAT paddling, which left bruises on the boy, was child abuse." (my emphasis) and "The district attorney argued that Mr. Barnett 'went beyond reasonable discipline and itís a pattern.' "
So although I would WELCOME a court case that determined that all hitting is child abuse, this one ISN'T trying to do so.

"What a waste of valuable court time. Itís ludicrous that this man is being tried for spanking his kid." (2nd comment posted) Trying a spanking that left bruises and was part of a pattern is a WASTE OF TIME??? I suppose that you would think that if the man (a fine Christian and upstanding member of his community) had been beating his wife, leaving bruises, trying him for that would also be "a waste of valuable court time [and] ludicrous"? Why is abuse of adults less tolerated than abuse of (more defenceless) children???

The WHOLE of comment 6: that carefully planned punishment is somehow better than striking out in anger. I once beat up my brother because he dropped a table on my foot and I was in great pain (I lost the toenail). I was almost immediately deeply ashamed, but he forgave me readily, realising that I was "out of control". I'm not saying that that JUSTIFIES what I did: it doesn't. He didn't deserve punishment for being clumsy. But it DOES make it somewhat more understandable.
Let me give you another example: violence ("punishment" if you will [in the eyes of the aggressor]) taken to its extreme. A wife shoots her husband in a fit of blind rage and deception when she catches him in bed with another woman. Another who plans for weeks to shoot him, with all the details worked out.(Also a case of "He got what was coming to him!" - as far as SHE'S concerned.) Which do you think will get a more sympathetic hearing from a jury? And - be sure you understand this - I'm not saying that EITHER was right or HAD the right to do what they did.
Does the term "Cold-blooded murderer" ring a bell?

Finally, I return to the article for the following:
"The boyís 21-year-old sister stood outside the courthouse holding a sign that said 'Thank you for spanking me Dad.' "
There was a recent case in Spain when a stranger stepped in to stop a man abusing his girlfriend on the street. The boyfriend turned on the rescuer and beat him so badly that he left him in a coma for several weeks, and there were fears for his life or permanent brain damage. The aggressor was arrested and charged with both partner-abuse and grievous bodily harm on the rescuer. The girlfriend stood up for him and said that it was a private matter and that the rescuer (basically) shouldn't have poked his big nose into something that was none of his business.
Often in the case of abuse - ESPECIALLY child-abuse in the form of "corrective punishment" and ESPECIALLY if biblical quotes are used in a fine Christian family - the abused is conditioned into accepting the abuse as normal and even beneficial.
... And we all have heard of masochists.(You may think that this is a frivolous addition and a cheap shot, but masochism has its roots SOMEWHERE.)
hairyfrog

Auburn, AL

#6 Mar 19, 2009
That looks ridiculous here: "I don't have the time to read through all of the comments (I see that they cover the spectrum)..."
I was referring to the "Motherlode" blog at the original NYTimes web-site.
Allan

Madison, WI

#7 Apr 21, 2009
I think that a person striking another person with a weapon should bring criminal charges.

Making one person a child and another person a parent doesn't change that.
Sandy

United States

#8 Apr 23, 2009
hairyfrog wrote:
"What a waste of valuable court time. Itís ludicrous that this man is being tried for spanking his kid." (2nd comment posted) Trying a spanking that left bruises and was part of a pattern is a WASTE OF TIME???
Yes, it's a waste of time. Kids get bruises every single day from playing sports, climbing trees and jumping fences. Some kids get bruises from being vaccinated. But when it's a matter of discipline, all of a sudden people get on a zero-tolerance for bruises kick. It doesn't make sense at all.
madgranny

Berlin, WI

#9 May 2, 2009
Spanking isn't HITTING anymore than surgery is STABBING...... I've raised 4 productive non criminal assests to society children by the good old fashioned swat on the behind when needed and owe Jennie no apology for it! I will on the other hand stand before the maker of the universe and give an account on how I raised my children. PS - I did it HIS way.
Inherited Bad Habit

Portland, OR

#10 Jun 4, 2009
Inherited Bad Habit

Child buttock-beating for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

I think the reason why television shows like "Supernanny" and "Dr. Phil" are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

There are several reasons why child buttock-beating isn't a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

Plain Talk About Spanking
by Jordan Riak

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
by Tom Johnson

NO VITAL ORGANS THERE, So They Say
by Lesli Taylor M.D., and Adah Maurer Ph.D.
Inherited Bad Habit

Portland, OR

#11 Jun 4, 2009
Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-beating can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. I don't know if I'm allowed to list organizations or websites here, but a quick internet search with the words "spanking can be sexual abuse" would yield ample testimonies, documentation, etc.

Just a handful of those who are trying to educate the public as to why child buttock-beating isn't a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Center For Effective Discipline

Churches' Network for Non-Violence

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children

Countries where child buttock-beating is illegal to-date:

Sweden, Finland, Norway, Austria, Cyprus, Italy, Denmark, Latvia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Iceland, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, Spain, Costa Rica, Republic of Moldova
Shaw

Lodi, WI

#12 Jun 5, 2009
Here is a good read on the issue of spanking - it's called the BIBLE. 50 years ago, people spanked more than they do now. Today, less people spank and look at the issues we have now with the disrespect and lack of morals. Don't tell me how to raise my kids and I won't tell you hopw to raise yours. It's an individual family preference as to the way they discipline their children. I don't agree with abuse but from what I see this man is not guilty of it. As far as the spanking and sexual abuse - I think maybe your watching to many movies or something. I was spanked as a child and there was no sexual stuff in my mind when it happened - that's just freaky!
Callie

Mobile, AL

#13 Jul 20, 2009
Barnett's trial has been postponed.
gingie

Atlanta, GA

#14 Jul 20, 2009
if an adult hit another adult with a board they would go to jail
i cant see a difference
they should go to jail
Ginger

Sylmar, CA

#15 Jul 22, 2009
The laws aside, from the parenting point of view I think:

1. Spanking is a bad way of discipling children. However, it is better than no discipling at all (and allow them to grow into trouble.)Understand that some parents just don't know how to do better parenting but they are trying. That's better than those who are not even trying to set limits.

2. Spanking is not beating. Beating is violence out of control.

3. Because there's a very fine line between spanking and beating, depends on how it is applied and why it is applied, everyone should try to stay away from them.

Just my 2 cents.
Ginger

Sylmar, CA

#16 Jul 22, 2009
Shaw wrote:
Here is a good read on the issue of spanking - it's called the BIBLE. 50 years ago, people spanked more than they do now. Today, less people spank and look at the issues we have now with the disrespect and lack of morals. Don't tell me how to raise my kids and I won't tell you hopw to raise yours. It's an individual family preference as to the way they discipline their children. I don't agree with abuse but from what I see this man is not guilty of it. As far as the spanking and sexual abuse - I think maybe your watching to many movies or something. I was spanked as a child and there was no sexual stuff in my mind when it happened - that's just freaky!
There are so much misunderstanding in the bible verses regarding spanking. I think you are referring to Proverbs 13:24 "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him."
The Hebrew word for rod in this proverb describes a scepter or staff. A scepter was a large ornately carved staff that was a symbol of authority. It does not mean spanking. Rod is used by shepherd to direct, guide and save the sheep. Every shepherd has to practice with their rod diligently and when the sheep went the wrong way, he throw the rod precisely to only block the sheep going the wrong way, not onto the sheep. When the sheep fell into the valley, the shephard has to save it by hooking it uphill and that would have to hurt. But if he doesn't the sheep will die. That is the true essensence of the verses.

Bible doesn't support spanking. It supports proper discipling. Discipling is not punishing.
Angie

Daphne, AL

#17 Jul 25, 2009
If you want to spank, go ahead as long as you don't abuse. If you don't want to spank, don't. It's quite simple. We each have our own convictions on the matter of physical discipline. Parenting should be left up to the parent and we should respect each way the same. Thank God for the discipline of His children. I thank my parents for loving me enough to spank my rear when I did something wrong. If you can love your children, discipline them without spanking - good for you.
steve

Blairstown, NJ

#18 Jul 26, 2009
I can tell you spanking worked on and my brothers as a kid and I spank my 2 1/2 year old son now when he disobeys. It works for me, it doesnt work for all kids however so parenting is up to the parents within reason of course but spanking is not child abuse

Since: Feb 07

Location hidden

#19 Jul 26, 2009
When did parents decide that discipline is a dirty word? When did parents decide that the world revolves exclusively around their kids? Enough already! Here's a fact: lecturing little kids or trying to explain bad behavior doesn't work. They don't understand your long-winded lectures. What they understand is action and consequences. Parents are allowing bratty behaviors and then they wonder why their kids are out of control. So what's the next step in bad parenting? Making excuses for your kids lousy behavior. Do the rest of us a favor and close your mouth and actually do something about your kids lousy behavior.
Preacher

Bowling Green, KY

#20 Jul 26, 2009
Amen Eddie

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