There is a fine line between discipline and abuse. Many good parents never cross the line. Some do when they let emotions control them.
My pastor says that the line is when you stray from applying discipline where “God gave you extra padding.” In California, the Assembly again has a bill that goes a bit further:
The bill targets people who “willfully” inflict “unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering” on a child.
The bill says physical pain and mental suffering are presumed to be unjustifiable in cases where certain “implements” are used, including a stick, a rod, a switch, an electrical cord, an extension cord, a belt, a broom, or a shoe.
The bill says it is also unjustifiable to throw, kick, burn or cut a child; strike a child with a closed fist; strike a child under the age of three on the face or head; vigorously shake a child under the age of three; interfere with a child’s breathing; or threaten a child with a deadly weapon.
A lot of these are definitely abuse. The last few– with shaking– can cause severe brain damage.
My question is, how does one define mental suffering? I believe that this is the part that would make any and all spanking for the purpose of disciplining illegal. It would become up to the court to decide whether mental suffering was inflicted and whether or not it was justifiable. Let’s just say we’d see a whole new round of parents being brought to court by their children.
Which brings us back to the tough question– just who exactly do the children belong to?