If there is a parent out there who has never had a burning desire to smack the sassy attitude out of a disrespectful, badly-behaving child, sainthood nominations are officially open. Thankfully, we Homo sapiens have the ability to control instinct and desire.

A 30-year old single dad from Coral Gables who took a belt to the butt of his eight year old son as punishment for bad grades is now charged with aggravated child abuse. The boy had complained at school of a sore behind, school officials called police and state social workers (as they are mandated by law to do), they deemed the boy’s bruises excessive, and the arrest of dad came soon after.

But then came the first court appearance. The judge tasked with setting bond first did a little bonding with defendant dad. The judge then verbally high-fived the dad’s choice of lesson-teaching, welt-raising butt bashing with a leather belt. Gotta raise some welts, he said, or else the kid won’t learn to do his work….

That raised a few eyebrows right there. But more than that, the arrest of that Coral Gables father has started a community conversation about discipline, child abuse and the difference between the two. Usually, it’s obvious. But there are instances when even police officers and child welfare workers who are trained to tell the difference admit they cannot.

Which brings me to this question: Does anyone think the whipping has taught that eight year old boy to bring home better grades?

Interestingly, I believe some people do. More than a few people in my impromptu unscientific survey called it acceptable discipline. One woman said that’s how she was raised, and felt like a better person for it. Me? I’m skeptical.

No doubt a whack on the arm or a belt across the butt teaches a child something. Fear? I guess that achieves the goal, in a warped way. I think it teaches a child that physical violence is an acceptable way to teach a lesson. That’s not what I want my kids to think. I’d be concerned about living under that form of Golden Rule.

Say the word “discipline” to a child old enough to know it, and chances are he or she will think “punishment” or “grounded” or “boy, am I in trouble”. But in its purest form, the word and its Latin roots mean learn, teach, lesson, impart knowledge and responsibility. Isn’t there a way to do that with brains over brawn?

So, did that dad criminally abuse his eight year old? Tough to tell at the moment, without knowing the details of intent, context and the like.

But I sure would like to see that next report card.


6 Responses

  1. To bruise a child while puinshing them is to me unexceptable but I believe to spank a child after you have tried to use other methods of corrections is exceptable. My father would ground me first and if that did not work then he would spank but never anger. He used a soft tone explaining to me what I did wrong and why I was being spanked.
    After 39 years of a good positive life for myself, I believe he did a great job. I do the same with my children now and they seem to be and health.

  2. I see parents smacking their infants, yanking their kids’ arms, berating them constantly. What is the lesson here? I admit having hit my kids occasionally on the butt when I was frustrated but I knew it served no real purpose other than letting out my frustration. Parents need to teach by example with every word they say and every action they employ. Can you imagine if your boss whipped you every time you missed a quota or spent time surfing the net during work hours? Do we condone that kind of behavior between adults in our society? Of course not. We’re up in arms when there is police brutality or unfairness in our courts. Speaking of police: how many officers carry a gun and badge without going through training? None! But parents don’t need a license or training or an education, for that matter. This is why parenting classes are offered. This father should take some… and bring the judge along!

  3. I saw with my own eyes what his father DID to him…it was horrendous & so-o-o-o very sad!!! He did NOT deserve that type of corporal punishment!!! Unless someone was there & saw the pictures & child, first-hand, they have NO right to say this father is justified in anway, shape or form. This child is scared of his dad, who’s ONLY had him 3 and a half months!!! He’s NOW having nightmares, his physical scars will heal but will his mental scars? I know, I TOO was a victim of terrible child abuse!!! Time outs and taking away the things they love are what we always do or send them to their room to think about their actions. This man went way beyond punishment…it was a BEATING! I know, I am his Ma-Maw.
    Thank you for your time to hear OUR side.

  4. Having not seen the extent of the bruising, I can only address the different forms of discipline. In this PC obsessed age many schools have opted for “user-friendly” forms of discipline such as stop light, or card systems, or both for the younger ones (green, yellow, red and then pulling a card). It’s a lot like the old demerit system I grew up with, but in high school, not grammar school. Usually these “degrees of discipline” are posted somewhere in the room for all to see, and becomes a humiliation for some children. I have 2 sons, (5 & 7) and they are real boys. They do not sit quietly for long, ever. The teacher who had my oldest was obsessive about behaviour and my child never saw a “green” light. Every child in his class would approach me and advise me he was on “red”, virtually every day. Suffice it to say that his emotional state was not good. After a full school year of this, the anxiety, the withdrawal, the tearing down were unbearable. And completely unnecessary. His father and I were concerned there was something more to it, we had him tested for ADHD. Turns out, he does NOT have ADHD, but it might be advantageous if the teacher were tested for ability to cope with that grade level and their energy. He was in 1st grade! The discipline at home has been firm, and occassionally a smack on the bottom. Regardless, each child and family needs their own formula for discipline, within boundaries, but let’s remember….emotional abuse doesn’t leave welts or bruises visible to the naked eye, and they can be just as, if not more devastating and longer lasting than a spanking. :et’s accept that kids are kids, and there is no manual for parenting, we just do what we can, with what we have. At least he stepped up and took responsibility 1) for his son in accepting custody (can’t be easy) and 2) for admitting he had hit the boy instead of hiding it.

  5. I wish this story would get smacked and just plain disappear; what goes on twixt mother, father and child, is not the business of us all—-just that family unit; when I got spanked, often, it did me good, real good; that is why I am the upstanding parent that I am today—it is just that simple; we should all wish this spanking news saga away, today!!!!!!

  6. I love to watch Miss Milberg she is really great. She really makes woman on the news look great. She has this voice of which I love listeining to she is a realy pleasure. I just wish with all of heart that she would go futher up in the ranks of news casters but that glass ceiling is still very much there.

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