According to FoxNews a mother and her friend jailed on suspicion of duct-taping a teenage boy, forcing him to inhale marijuana and pouring hot sauce in his eyes as punishment could face additional child-abuse charges in an ongoing investigation. As a parent, you can't help but feel anger and disgust when you hear stories like this. "The National Child Project," examines the origins of punishment, the most common methods of punishing children, and why some parents choose to hurt their children.
Why do some parents feel like they have the authority and right to hurt their children in order to get them to listen and behave? Children are not criminals, slaves, or animals. They are innocent, beautiful, loving beings that want to be loved, supported, and kept safe. In the past century we have learned so much about the horrible effects that child abuse and neglect have on a child's emotional and social development and their mental health. So why then, do we continue to hear story after story of child abuse.
Some parents report that they punish their child because their punishment as a child was accompanied by rage, hatred, and sadism, and it is an opportunity for them to legally inflict pain on another human being. For most parents, it is a way for them to control behavior which they were made to control as a child. It becomes a vicious cycle of ignorance, which is then passed on to their children. Some parents say it is okay to hurt children in order to get them to do what they want and behave appropriately. They will defend their belief that their own parents were right to punish them, that they are right to punish their children, and that their children will be right to punish their children. If you look at it in a psychological and social lens, parental punishers of their children do so because their children make them anxious by confronting them with behaviors and feelings which the parents themselves have learned to hide, suppress, repress, and disown.
When we condone punishment as an acceptable disciplinary tool, we continue to perpetuate the idea that using force and power works to control others and get them to do what we want. We use punishment in order to stop behavior rather than taking the responsibilty to confront and understand it. Parents need to openly deal with the underlying causes of their child's behavior and then both parent and child have the opportunity to get a better and more realistic view of the child's actions, and any potential danger to the child or to the parent.