The difference between discipline and abuse?

Filed under: Just For Moms, Teens, Just For Dads, Development/Milestones: Babies

State law in Hawaii makes it illegal for a parent to "physically abuse" their child. But the law also provides that parents may use appropriate force if it is related to helping the minor, as long as it doesn't cause serious injury or extreme pain. But, at what point does corporal punishment become abuse?
According to the Hawaii Supreme Court, hitting your 14-year-old daughter with a backpack, a brush and the plastic handle of a tool is all okay. In a 3-2 decision last week, the court overturned a jury's verdict that convicted that girl's mother of child abuse.

"People feel very differently about using force for parental discipline," said Deputy Public Defender Deborah Kim, one of the mother's lawyers on the appeal. "Some people would never hit a child, but for other people, it's necessary."

In reading the details of the case, it seems obvious to me that this mother was angry, frustrated and probably felt like she was losing control of her daughter, who clearly needed some discipline. She is quoted as saying "It was wrong, but I did it for a purpose. I just wanted the best for my daughter."

Earlier today, Roger posted a story about a reader who witnessed a mother hitting her young child. That story made all of us sad for that child. But the fact that what she did is probably legal makes me mad. In my experience, parents who strike their children are almost always doing it out of anger and frustration. That's not discipline, that is loss of self-control. And to those who would say that an out of control teenager is a whole different animal, I would agree. I have been there and done that - and never resorted to hitting.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.