Spanking & Child Abuse Are Not the Same Thing

A couple in South Carolina has been arrested for abuse of a 7-year-old boy, who was beat repeatedly with a belt and shoes. The victim told police that he was “spanked” on numerous days, and forced to keep soap in his mouth. He had multiple bruises on his shins and rear end. 

The alleged abusers, Amber Tyler, 27, and Coolidge Mike McDaniel, 29, were charged with child cruelty and released Sunday on a $1,000 bond. 

The police report said that the little boy was afraid to go home because he might get “spanked” again for telling.


Let’s be very clear about something before we go any further: This kind of abuse is not, I repeat, NOT spanking. I know that some people would argue that all spanking is abuse, but I can’t think of any sane, responsible adult that would classify blows that leave bruises as spanks.

Parents that choose to spank their children should have rules regarding the use of it as a punishment. First of all, it should be used for discipline only. The child should know why they are being spanked, and if they’re anything like my kids, they’ll know exactly why before even being reminded. 

Spankings should always be followed by love and forgiveness. Isn’t that the point of punishment? To correct bad behavior so we can get back to having fun? My kids aren’t often spanked anymore (they’re growing out of that stage), but they’ve always been back to happy play within minutes. They usually recover from the trauma of it all much more quickly than I do.

The parameters should be decided on with the parenting partner, and made known to the children, before such discipline is used. In our house, the kids get between one and three swats on the rear (depending on the offense), and they get to choose between dad with an open hand or mom with a kitchen spoon. 

Spankings should never, ever, ever leave bruises. Ever. A spanking that leaves a bruise is not a spank. Spanks should be swift and sting, but a quick swat is not the same as a punch, kick, or even slap. That’s abuse, not discipline. 

Shame on anyone that justifies child abuse by labeling it “spanking.”

Do you spank your children? Do you cringe when you hear of violent abuse mislabeled as spanking?

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