Abuse or Discipline? You Be the Judge

Abuse or Discipline? You Be the Judge

Olivia Allen (12th), Reporter

Every kid at one point has been disciplined by their parents or guardians. Kids usually get disciplined because they don’t follow the rules set by their parents or by not listening to them when they are told to do something.


 Some parents discipline by giving their child a spanking or hitting them with a belt when they are in trouble. While some people see this as disciplining their child, others see this as abuse. 


This has been an argument for a couple of years now. It’s a very controversial topic in the United States especially within certain ethnic groups and minority cultures where discipline in the minority culture is viewed as abuse in American culture. 


Discipline, by definition is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience. A parent disciplining their child might be spanking their child for disobeying them or putting them on time out for hitting their sibling. The lesson from that would be to listen to the parent and to not hit their sibling.


 Now with abuse, it means to treat a person or animal with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly. It would be as if the parent hit their child or children very aggressively for no apparent reason other than because they can. With abuse there is no lesson to learn from that and it’s used with extreme force, giving them broken bones and lasting bruises. Discipline and abuse are very different, and the Willis v Court case shows that. With the Willis v Court case, the mom was jailed for whipping her child aggressively seven times with a belt and extension cord. This shows just one of the many instances of people “disciplining” their child.


Now, discipline is not the same for everyone. Different cultures view discipline very differently.  For some Hispanics, some believe that physical punishment is appropriate to use and if not used, that children will not learn right from wrong.


 A study that was done asked 20,000 kids and their parents; and 80% of Hispanic parents admitted to spanking their child as punishment. Just like Hispanics, Asians use and believe in physical punishment. They believe that you need to use physical discipline and tough love in raising your child/children.


 A saying that has been dated back to ancient China is, “ to be beaten is a sign of affection, to be scolded is a sign of love”. To them, it’s a cultural practice of instilling appropriate behavior in kids in hopes of them growing up with an admirable character. For Americans, I gathered that they tend to believe in positive reinforcement. Instead of using physical discipline, they will ask sweetly for their child to stop or put them in a time out. They also tend to be more of a friend to the child than a parent. Now I’m not saying that it’s typical for Americans to be like this, but it’s just what they tend to use as discipline. 


Obviously, people have different opinions of what they consider discipline and abuse. So as the curious person I am, I went around and asked a pitman student some questions of what they think on this topic. Senior Fabian Berumen, answered a couple of questions  I had for him. I first asked for his definition of discipline. 


He said, “properly teaching children/teens when they’ve done something wrong, this may include physical force such as a spanking with a belt or sandal”.


 I then questioned where he drew the line between discipline and abuse. He told me, “ the line is drawn when someone is “disciplined” with excessive force or with excessive normality”. 


 All in all, while they may have similarities, they are not the same. Abuse is a very serious situation, and hopefully if someone is going through this they call for help. Please be aware and if you can help someone please do it.

Works Cited