When Does Spanking Become Child Abuse? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 17 2014 @ 11:19am

The popular thread continues with a new angle – sexual shame:

I can only remember one time I was spanked. It’s an early memory of running away and cowering in the corner while my very sweet and kind father came towards me. I was so scared. The spanking wasn’t terrible but that image will stick with me forever. That and the humiliation. I still can’t reconcile it with my father’s otherwise extraordinarily loving personality. And I have no memory of why I was punished. Clearly the “lesson” didn’t stick. But that image always will.

As an absolute aside, has anyone noticed that hitting someone’s buttocks is an oddly sexual place to hit someone? Could it, even unintentionally, be a form of sexual abuse? Certainly that element adds to the humiliation of being spanked.

Another can relate to that humiliation:

My parents never paddled me with an implement, or whooped me with a switch, or a belt.

My father spanked me, bare-bottom, bare-handed over his knee until I was about six. For some reason, the recent discussion about child abuse and corporal punishment treats spanking as a lesser act, like a kindly “slap on the butt”. I couldn’t disagree more.

My earliest emotional memories are the terror and shame I felt as my dad tore down my pants and spanked my bare bottom. The anger and rage he expressed terrified me. I didn’t understand. It didn’t teach me anything, except to fear my father, who surely had loving thoughts of his son. It took ten years before I could get to know my dad, and I wonder often how it might have been different. And he wasn’t otherwise a frightening figure. He was a bookish lawyer from a good family.

There’s a sexual element to corporal punishment that is difficult to confront. Society nearly admits as much when witnesses are required for female students to be spanked. Maybe small children haven’t formed sexual identities yet, but I am certain the sexual shame of bare beatings is felt, even if it can’t quite be articulated.

Update from a reader:

Without delving into the question of whether spanking across the buttocks constitutes sexual abuse, intentional or otherwise, there is a practical reason for striking someone there. The sciatic nerve runs over the gluteus muscles in the buttocks, meaning that a blow delivered to that spot can deliver a fair amount of pain without causing lasting damage.