Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Spanking isn't abuse if it doesn't leave a mark

It's often said that spanking has not crossed the line into "abuse" if it doesn't "leave a mark." This seems to be a reasonable argument to me and I will concede. Spanking isn't abuse if it doesn't leave a mark.

Whatever it goes through, our skin is pretty amazing, if you think about it. Cut it open or injure it in any way and it just fixes itself. What an amazing body we have!

One way we can tell that our skin has set itself out to fix itself is that it starts turning red. That's how we know that our body has identified an "injury" and is "sending in the troops" (extra blood) to get to work to repair itself. So, when people say that spanking is not abusive if it doesn't leave a mark, this makes sense because the body will tell you if it has been injured by its reaction.

So, if the skin in any way reddens after a spanking, that is the body's way of confirming that something abusive (or a mis-use) has happened to the body. 

Smack yourself anywhere on your body with the force you commonly use to spank your child and you will see that the skin...is going to redden. Maybe it's not going to swell, welt, and turn bright red, but, you will see that the body testifies that being smacked, no matter how lightly, is considered by the body to be an injury that deserves attention.

To say, then, that a spanking is not abusive if it doesn't leave a mark is not a definitive definition of "abuse" because of this...

What shade of red do we decide determines "a mark?"

This is tricky, now, isn't it? Everyone is going to have a different idea of which shade of red crosses the line into "abuse."

Another catch in this is that every child is going to "redden" differently. My skin is very pale and of a "pink" tone. I redden quickly and easily. A child with pale but "yellowish" or "olive" tones is not going to "redden" as easily as I do. And, obviously, a black person's skin would laugh at what makes me turn pink, right?

Back when I was a little kid...you could have taken me, an olive skinned kid, and a black kid, and spanked us all with the same/equal force with the same object...and gotten totally different reactions from all three of us. Spanking us "lightly" I bet I would be the only one to redden visibly. And, if you were to do it to a harsh enough degree, my skin would have been almost bleeding by the time the black kid's skin would have been showing a reaction. 

Do you realize how arbitrary and unreliable a measure this is?

This unequal reaction of my pale melanin-challenged pinkish skin to the reaction that a black kid would have to the same treatment would mean that my parents would hit me with far less force than my black friends' parents would if they were using this same measure to determine when they crossed the line into abuse. 

This measure of what constitutes abuse is therefore necessarily unfair to everyone who isn't pale and pink like me. A black child adopted out of foster care into a white spanking family is going to receive far harder and painful blows from their "loving" adopted parents than their own pale children as the parents usually gauge their spanking quality by the reactions they get from the children. This is so sad it makes me wanna cry!

Also, have you ever been told something that just "cut you like a knife?" Has anyone ever said anything to you that you felt "broke your heart" or "hurt your feelings" and was something that even after an apology left you feeling like you'd never be the same? Our skin will replace itself or heal in 10 days, but, the popularity of anti-depression medications are evidence that the marks that are left on our hearts don't heal so quickly.

Science (Romans 1) has even uncovered that our brains respond to emotional pain with the same chemicals and in the same way as actual physical pain. When we say someone "hurt" our feelings it's as true and real as if someone has "hurt" our bodies.

So, if a spanking is not abuse "if it doesn't leave a mark", how do you know if the spanking you're about to give your child is about to "leave a mark" on your child's heart or not?

We all know that when a person is "violated" or "raped" that the body heals quickly, but, the person's mind and heart may never fully recover because of the "mark" that that trauma left on their insides. It is the spiritual and emotional marks that matter most because "we" are not our physical body...we are our minds and spirits that live in our bodies and so the damage done to our body is just to our body but the spiritual/emotional damage is done "to us" to the very heart of who we are...

Matthew 10:28
And fear not them that kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him that is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

So, just how do you know when you're about to leave one of those marks? You may believe that it is because you are causing the pain of the spanking for a "loving" reason and this is what makes the difference is your intention. But, is that your own experience in life?

You realize this is a crazy world we live in, right? You do realize that there have been murders and rapes that have been committed by people who were so off-their-rockers that they actually believed they were doing a good deed for God and the person they harmed. 

So, do you think that if you were raped/assaulted by someone who truly believed that they were saving you from some harm like...being abducted by aliens or because God commanded it (or something equally absurd!)...that this would render the rape/assault inoffensive to you? Would it make it once you found out why they did it suddenly not traumatic? If you can't answer this with "yes!" then you have to realize that no matter what your intention or belief is about the pain you inflict on your child in a spanking is...that it always leaves a mark...

You cannot judge what constitutes "abuse" by the reddening of the skin because it does not have a constant.

You cannot judge what constitutes "abuse" by the response only of the body to the spanking.

You cannot judge what constitutes "abuse" by the marks you may be leaving on the child's heart because you can't see those marks at all.

There is no constant standard by which to measure if a spanking is "abuse" or not. Therefore, there is no way to set a standard for how hard, how many times, or with what to hit your child in a spanking. 

If the definition of "abuse" is "if it leaves a mark" because the marks are invisible, the only way to avoid "leaving a mark" is to set your standard at not hitting your child at all. 

When it comes to our children...considering Jesus said that it'd be better to have a big rock tied around your neck and be drowned than to cause one to stumble...it's just not worth the gamble...

I read somewhere recently, and forget where, where someone on facebook commented that their father hit them and it actually broke a bone...but for some reason didn't leave a mark...just more proof that the "leaving a mark" or "bruising" argument doesn't cut it. 


  1. I just love this ... thank you ... it's exactly what I have always said. What the heck do they call 'redness' if it isn't a mark? And what do they call the emotional and mental suffering ?? !!

    Right now ...I am in agony with a broken rib [or two!] from falling in the bathroom and hitting my ribcage/back on the bidet about 4 days back[whilst saving my brain! ahem!]. Now ... I have at least one broken rib and a lot of pain - but not a mark. No bruise, shadow nothing. Does this mean .. that you could hit that hard and break bones and it wouldn't matter because you can't see it ???? I know that this will heal and will stop and be gone. That will be it and I will laugh about it.

    When I was hit as a child - I knew I would remember both the physical pain and mental pain forever. I am almost 59. I haven't forgotten yet. But I HAVE forgotten what I was 'spanked' for !!


You may also like...