What’s the Difference Between Disciplining a Child and Physical Abuse?
Children frequently suffer bruises, cuts, and broken bones. While the vast majority of physical injuries occur from playing with their friends, horsing around, and even tripping and falling, sometimes children’s injuries may be the result of severe discipline or physical abuse.
Understanding Physical Abuse and Discipline Differences
Sometimes teachers, aids, or other authority figures might attempt to discipline children by shaking them, grabbing them hard, or even using a paddle to swat them on their behinds when they have failed to behave. When this occurs, a child may suffer bruises or other physical harm. Although some caregivers might not have intentionally meant to harm a child, there is a fine line between physical discipline and physical abuse.
Some factors that are present when physical abuse occurs includes:
- Anger. Was the person acting out in anger? If so, the physical form of discipline may be physical abuse.
- Control. When a person wants to keep a child in line, they may assert control in the form of physical abuse.
- Wanting to instill fear. If the person wants to make a child live in fear so that he or she has control of that child, it may be physical abuse.
While it may be hard to determine if your child was harmed by discipline or physical abuse, you need to remember that anytime physical harm to a child occurs—even if it is a result of discipline—it may be physical abuse.
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