According to reports, Tyesha Hamilton plunged her 2 year old daughter Alexandria into scalding water (Suchetka, Plain Dealer). Accurately stated, this was a form of punishment. The incident may be one of the cruelest examples of such. Yet, the question remains - what are the boundaries, what are the rules when it comes to the discipline of a child?
For some, the rules are simple. Mimic or modify learned disciplinary actions and boundaries. Through 2007, stats suggest that all too often these boundaries are crossed leading to almost five child fatalities daily.
There is no disputing the fact that children need discipline. How that discipline is administered however, is a point of debate. Two schools of thought exist. One doesn't understand how love is shown, when a parent strikes a child. While another feeling is how the lack of such discipline reflects a lack of love for the child. The latter belief most closely resembles the biblical view.
The bible says that the Lord chastens those He loves (Heb 12:6). Job states that a man whom God corrects is happy, therefore he should not despise the Lord's chastisement (Job 5:17). Chastisement is encouraged in scripture. According to Proverbs, one who spares the rod (the rod of correction) hates his son (Prov 13:24).
If scripture encourages this type of chastisement, doesn't that open the door for a parent to go too far?
The scriptures depict God as a loving Father. In context with His character and nature, His actions are synchronized with his attitude. That is the attitude of love. God's sole intent for discipline and chastisement is training and correction. There is no intent to harm. The discomfort of the chastisement is simply to discourage a specific behavior. To slap a child on their hand is not to break that hand; it is to discourage the action of the hand. In order to avoid a tragedy like Alexandria's, both action and attitude must be considered in the practice of scripture.
Scripture cannot be brought into question because of a mother who has no harness for her emotions. The bible gives no license to abuse children as means of correction or punishment. But rather, it equips parent to instill the fear of God in their children, through Godly discipline.
For more information on Child Abuse:
1. Child Help