A Slap In The Face: Child Abuse Or Discipline?

A year and a half.

Back in February when I was doing some research as I wrote “4 Out Of 5 Parents Spank Their Kids” I read that slapping a child in the face can be considering a form of spanking.

I was never slapped in the face by my parents, nor could I ever imagine doing that to my son. To deem a face slap as a form of discipline seems illegitimate to me.

But is it because of the age and culture I am a part of?

The premium TV show Mad Men always does a good job of pointing out situations that are largely considered taboo today, but back in the 1960′s when the show takes place, were considered normal and acceptable.

I have noticed that in this show, children get slapped in the face as a form of discipline and punishment; sometimes even by an adult who is not the child’s parent. And therefore, we are led to believe this was okay for 1963.

Meanwhile, my wife knows a man who, without shame, admitted he slaps his children to discipline them. He is not from America.

So I wonder, as a Generation Y American dad, am I preconditioned to believe that slapping my child in the face is taboo? Or is this type of punishment truly as legitimate as spanking a child on their bum?

I am simply hosting this conversation. I would like for you to point out the double standards, both in favor and against including face-slapping in the same category as spanking.

Do you consider slapping a child in the face morally wrong, yet believe spanking your child’s buttocks is acceptable?

Why is a slap in the face somehow worse? Is it more psychologically damaging than spanking?

Does it make a difference whether or not it leaves a physical mark the next day? Is that what is considered crossing the line?

Why is there more of a taboo on face-slapping?

Why are you more likely to see a parent spank their child in public than slap them in the face? Is it because less parents slap their kids in the face or is it because those parents know they would be confronted by another adult?

If you witnessed a parent slapping their child in the face in public, would you do or say anything to them about it? (Imagine this being an episode of that show What Would You Do?)

Okay, go…

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  1. by Cheryl A.

    On June 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Although I do believe in corporal punishment (this is big in the news right now, just wrote a blog post about it on Friday, check it out here: http://www.urbanmommys.com/2012/06/08/discipline/#more-615 )I think slapping in the face is inappropriate. I like the tone of your article tho, less accusatory, more exploratory. Too often these discussions devolve into name calling and irrationality.

  2. by Rebecca

    On June 11, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    I was punished by way of a smack on the legs and bum as a child. I can honestly say it taught me only that I hated being smacked! And would fight tooth and nail and often take my brothers and sisters smacks for disagreeing with the practice.

    A slap in the face is abuse! A slap anywhere else to a child is detrimental!

  3. by Jolena Chavez

    On June 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I think it’s non of our business to say something to the parents that disciplining their child. Different cultures have different ways of disciplining children. Again, non of our business.

  4. by Nick Shell

    On June 12, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    But at what point should it become our business? How violent must another parent get with their child before you would say something?

  5. by L.

    On June 14, 2012 at 6:38 am

    What would you categorize elderly parents slapping their middle-aged child (first mom, then dad)? I’m 44 & live with them because I am ill and now disabled. Dad has told me no matter how old I am he will grab a belt or switch and beat the crap out of me. Divorced & no kids, which upsets my mom because I didn’t ask her permission to get divorced, although it was in 2006 and none of anyone’s business to make but mine and my now ex-husband. She says she would rather stay happy knowing I’m married rather than knowing I’m not happy. My personal happiness is not what matters … HERS does. She wants a little “mini-me” and is beside herself with anger because I’m not exactly like her.

  6. by Tatiana

    On June 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    I’m from Brazil, where many parents use spanking as a form of punishing their kids for misbehaving. In my personal opinion, I believe that spanking is a wrong, disturbing and damaging in many ways to a child. Slapping in the face is even worse. Is a form of humiliate the child and do more damages emotionally than teach the child something. Spanking turns a child into violent, insecure, adults. It doesn’t make them respect you, it only makes them fear you and break the trust they have on the ones they should trust more.

  7. by Sarah

    On July 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    What I have noticed about these types of punishment is that people generally try to decide for everyone what is acceptable or not. I have 4 children and I can say that spanking only works on one of them- the rest of my children have no response to it. We have spent a good deal of time working out the best type of correction for each child’s personality. Punishment is not a general blanket for everyone, people respond differently to different things. I do think that a slap to the face can be abuse, as can a spanking, IF done in anger. The tone of the punishment says a lot about the punishment itself. For example, a parent that gives a timeout to a child for using a bad word is no different than the parent who gives a pop on the mouth. They don’t love their child less, the child isn’t being beaten and screamed at- the parent has explained that using that sort of language is not acceptable and there is a punishment that follows. So long as a parent is responding in love, explaining the choice and using corrective punishment without anger, we don’t get to choose what is “right” about their form of punishment.

  8. by Kim

    On August 6, 2012 at 8:56 am

    I can think of only 2 instances where a pop or slap on the face would be acceptable. When a teenager is using terms or language that they should no better by that age, and when a child chomps down on you out of anger.
    I was never slapped or popped in the face, with the exception of moms immediate reaction to her 1 1/2 year old biting her leg (she litterally reacted, didnt even realize it was a kid first) my brother got slapped at 14 for using rude sexual terms in the middle of the grocery store, he was talking to our 11 year old sister. they beleived that by that age we were far beyond a spanking or a time out, and sexual or racial slurs, we knew better, warranted something more extreme than a grounding.
    The only time I have popped my kids on the face, I was trying to get a choking hazard (paper clip or or pine needles, so far) and they chomped down on my fingr in a clearly aggressive manner. I flicked their mouth to get them to open it again. I learned to pry their mouth open by pressing the sides of the jaw after that.

  9. by Nancy

    On August 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    This issue may very well destroy my marriage. I have four small children, and my husband of European origin smacks them across the face at least once a week to discipline them, always in anger, even though we have had repeated conversations about him having enough presence of mind to calm down and issue a time-out, or stand in a corner, or in extreme cases a spanking on the butt. I can say that, dealing with a 2 year old in the aftermath, picking up the pieces, seeng them emotionally distancing themselves from their father…it is heart wrenching, and I am not sure myself where to draw the line.

  10. by Faith

    On August 12, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    It can be both.A slap anywhere in anger is inappropriate. I have slapped my son in the face on occasion, if he screams out of anger, I feel it is appropriate for him, because he is pretty insensitive. (once he cut his finger enough to make it bleed, then calmly showed it to me and said ‘ouch.’ then continued to play no crying or anything) I rub his face afterward, and I touch his face in a loving manner the rest of the time.

  11. by Ashley

    On August 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    I agree with Faith. I was popped in the mouth growing up for talking back. I dont think I’d ever smack my child across the face but a pop to the mouth would work for talking back.

  12. by Passerby

    On August 14, 2012 at 4:19 am

    I agree with Kim. I could only ever see doing it if they were much older (way beyond the age of spanking, like a teenager) and were saying something wildly inappropriate.

    I think it is largely a cultural thing. A light slap to the cheeks doesn’t hurt, but in our society the concept of “a slap to the face” is synonymous with a grave insult. Doing anything to the face is considered more personal, so discipline there comes across as crossing a line. I wouldn’t necessarily be bothered by it in other cultures, but I do think it’s inappropriate here. We should stick to the hands and rear end.

    Also, to L, I think your situation is a whole ‘nother story. There’s a reason why parents that spank stop long before puberty – corporal punishment is useful with small children who can’t connect distant punishments, like “you’ll get no ice cream tonight” with current behavior. It’s pointless to continue the practice after that, because kids would rather endure momentary discomfort and keep all their treats later. If your father never grasped how spanking works in the first place, then he has no business raising kids – let alone treating a middle-aged woman like a small child. Is there another relative who could take you in? Or an agency who could care for you?

  13. by Mary E Frame

    On August 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    My 9 year old great grandson just revealed that his mother slaps him in the face all the time. I was shocked at first, then I remembered that my daughter slapped his mother too. I never slapped my children in the face. I was trained that the butt is padded for a reason. Yes, my children were spanked but only a few times.

    My great grandson is turning into a bully. He terms everything as “I HATE”.

    My daughter is married to a different origin of culture, so I don’t know if that is what she was told to do by her husband.

    I don’t approve.

    I haven’t seen any improvement in behavior.

  14. by JoAnn

    On August 23, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I think the people who have commented here may not have thought about this issue carefully. Even spanking is getting taboo in our society. Have any of you been in a public middle school lately? I think we’re facing problems a little more urgent than spanking causing a child to feel unhappy.

    There are a few comments on here about punishing “in anger.” Of course a parent shouldn’t fly into a violent rage, but parents need to be cut a little slack. They’re people, too. When a child sees the natural consequences of their behavior (when I throw rocks at Dad, he gets mad), they learn to function in society.

    Getting to the original question, I do think slapping on the face can be appropriate for older children and teenagers. My mother did that to me occasionally when I talked back to her.

  15. by Christina

    On September 14, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I am European, and I am surprised to learn, that in the US spanking seems to be accepted as a proper way to improve the behaviour of children, while face slapping is considered something really bad, even seems to be a taboo. I personally believe, that both is inappropriate. But why do many people consider face slapping literally a „crime“, while they accept spanking ? Is it really much more humiliating, compared to spanking? Isn`t it more embarassing , to present your bare ( ! ) bottom for a spanking, compared to presenting your face cheeks for a slapping?
    Many people say, face slapping involves the risk of hurting the person to be slapped (ears, lips, cheek bones ). This is the case only, when one slaps in anger, not being in controll of what he is doing. If the slaps are applied properly, the only consequences are red face cheeks, fading within one or two hours.
    Nevertheless I admit, that there is something special in this punishment method, which is the direct eye to eye contact during punishment between the person receiving and the person handing out the slaps. Maybe some people find this humiliating, but in my opinion it enhances the bounds between these two persons, if the slapping is done in an atmosphere of love and understanding, and if the slappee accepts the punishment and cooperates. This requires a detailed discussion and explanation of the reasons for the punishment.
    I was slapped around the face frequently in my childhood (ca. once per fortnight in average), and don`t have any bad feeling looking back. When I was about to be punished, my father (resp. my mother ) explained in detail what I did wrong and why I needed to be punished. I always agreed in my punishment or at least accepted it and cooperated. This means, I readily presented my face cheeks for the slapping, pushing forward my head a little bit, thereby signalizing my cooperation, and received 5 to 10 tight slaps on my both cheeks with a time space of ca. 30 sec. between the slaps, keeping eye contact during the slapping. Afterwards the parent cuddled me and consolingly patted and stroke my red and hot cheeks, and one or two hours later my face cheeks were cool and pale again, and it was over.
    I am grateful, that my parents performed my punishments in this way.

  16. by Daniela

    On September 18, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I routinely have bad flashbacks to my abusive adoptive parents. I cannot even get into the depths of it, but tonight I’m thinking about how my father would routinely smack me on the face (and that was the lightest form of punishment out there). I was a good kid too -just had a disorder called trichotillomania that no one knew what it was back then. I was severely punished. I just don’t feel like living anymore. Here I am at 42 and re-living these ridiculous times of my life.

  17. by ryan

    On October 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    People gotta realize that a lot of kids are gonna get their but,ts kicked in life, if they do somethinv socially unacceptable. So in a way it kinda gets them ready. But what do i know, this comment seems less informative than the rest.
    But if the spanking and slapping are out of anger, then that is wrong.

  18. by Peg

    On October 24, 2012 at 5:56 am

    I was slapped many many times across the face with such force my ears would ring. My mother did this. I remember many times being slapped but the worst was that hurts me the most is Christmas. I was preschool age. Santa was at the window and I think I screamed or did something that mother slapped me so hard it stung so bad. Can you imagine a fat woman hitting a 3 year old with all her force? There were about 20 people in the room …. they all looked at me as if I deserved it. I am 53 now. Mother is alive and I hate her to this day. She lives in an apartment and whines that I don’t call her to my sisters whom were also abused…. but they talk to her. I have nothing to say to this beast. She can rot. I will dance on the day of her death.

  19. by Megan Wessells

    On October 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I live in the USA and I have two children a boy and a girl. When my kids do things they KNOW is wrong I will spank themand see nothing wrong with this I was spanked as a child and it made me think twice about being bad!! I will not use a belt because I believe its unnecessary. I “pop” my son in the face when hes acting out or whining uncontrollably for no reason other than he was told No and that makes him stop…I do not “Slap” him u people iver exaggerrate what a pop and a slap are…I dont draw back and slap the crap out of him…My mother doesnt like when I do it but they are MY kids and it keeps MY kids under control…u bitch about unruly kids but then bitch when parents discipline them so they dont act like that?! Makes no sense…u parent ur way Ill parent mine

  20. by Adam

    On October 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    My sister in-law slaps her kids, as a result two of them have become withdrawn and fearful. They don’t speak, they display signs of depression. One if them told my Mum (his grandmother) that his mummy always slaps him in the face and shakes him ( he is 6 years old). I am obviously very disturbed as their Uncle on hearing this, I don’t know what my brother (their father), makes of it. I have kids myself my Wife and I have never laid a finger on them. I can’t prove this abuse happens, my Mum say’s she knows my sister in-law has given beatings to her kids, my own Wife said she once saw own of their kids with scratch marks on his neck after an argument with my sister in law. Is it my place to intervene, I feel awful for the children, I don’t have a great relationship with my brother and especially not with his wife, and will probably be told to get lost if I say anything. Please please…do not hit children, they are innocent, hitting or slapping them only makes them feel hated, scared and vulnerable. If they misbehave its normally because they want attention,,if they are not receiving love and attention the problem lies with the parent, don’t mask your own deficiencies as a person by slapping children. How would you like it if someone slapped you every time you made a mistake at work or in your everyday life?

  21. by Mel

    On November 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

    I was slapped and spanked as a child. I didn’t behave any better. Spanking usually just helps a parent’s frustration, it doesn’t solve the problem with the child. I’m 21 years old and I remember very clearly what it felt like to be spanked and slapped (hair pulled, whipped with a belt, shoes, fly swatter) I don’t feel abused, I still love my parents, but I can’t imagine doing that to my daughter. Having become a parent myself 7 weeks ago, I know I don’t want to repeat the process. I don’t want my daughter to have memories like I have. If your husband or partner slapped you-it’s considered abuse. Why is it called discipline in regards to children?

  22. by Caroline

    On November 24, 2012 at 10:53 am


    by Jolena Chavez
    On June 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm
    I think it’s non of our business to say something to the parents that disciplining their child. Different cultures have different ways of disciplining children. Again, non of our business.

    None of your business? Then whose business is it, the family’s alone? The whole point is that it is CHILDREN. They can’t do anything about it. I’m the sixteen year old daughter of parents who frequently slap me in the face at any annoyance, and who raise a hand to get me to do things. If other people won’t make this their business then who will? Abuse from a loved one is hard enough as it is, especially when they honestly think what they’re doing is okay. They have their moments when they aren’t horrible so you still love them. An abusive relationship as an adult is impossibly difficult, I’m well aware. But at least if they can get out of the relationship, they are self-sufficient adults. I may be a few years from adulthood, but I have to LIVE with this, and there is nothing I can do. They are my parents for God’s sake. Someone in a relationship can leave for anything: hitting, yelling, anything that is not okay with you. I can’t just leave. They’re my parents. I’m in high school. So here I must endure anything under the sun that is not defined as legitimate child abuse by law? Did you know that that only covers death, rape, or serious injury?

    So you’re telling me, that it’s no one else’s business but my familiy’s. So you are going to sit back and say nothing, while I endure all kinds of physical and emotional abuse, and no one will care or make it their business until it gets to the point of serious injury, rape or death. Okay, because that makes PERFECT sense.

  23. by Get-Help

    On December 4, 2012 at 2:50 pm

  24. by the victim

    On December 9, 2012 at 5:50 am

    okay a week ago my mum didnt slap me in the face. No she punched me with her fist. My nose bled for a good 15 minutes. And i understand as a parent their are stresses and pressures, my mum has depression for instance. But if youre taking the time to read my comment and youre a parent please LISTEN! It does not give u any relief it gives u the (hopefully) guilt and if your kids 16 like me theyre going to be upset. If my mum did this to me at a younger age id call it child abuse! IT IS 150% WRONG TO HIT A CHILD IN THE FACE FULL STOP! My councillars getting involved and i might be going to live with my nan. And why? Because my mum cant handle her anger. Please if youre a parent do no hit your child to the point where it actually hurts them, you may lose them and well my mothers never getting that trust back, ever. Just stick to the hand across the bum!

  25. by Chelsea

    On December 16, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    My mom slaps me in the face, and when i slap her back she tried to choke me. Slapping is never okay. It hurts, and its demeaning, and shouldn’t be leagal. I’m not even allowed to defend myself in my house. So nobody try to pull “slapping in the face is fine”. because its not
    -A 16 year old girl

  26. by Nick Shell

    On December 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    You did the right thing by coming to a parenting blog and showing how this makes you feel. Thank you.

  27. by Christine

    On December 23, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I live in the UK however am American. I do not use physical punishment however, I slapped my teenage daughter for the first and hopefully onky time , in the middle of a busy street yesterday. She decided to, in response to her little sister being annoying, say “I will f*cking hurt you if you don’t stop” My response was to take her arm and tell her that I do not know what is wrong with her but she will not threaten her sister or use language like that and that she lost her new ipad, kindle and phone for 48 hours and she would spend the rest of the day in her room. She then turned to me and said “I don’t care you f*cking b*tch” at which point I slapped her It was reaction out of sheer shock as my children do not ever speak like that. I would not endorse slapping nor would i do it again however in this instance it made the point very clear that the language and behaviour stopped then I will add that a woman told me I could not slap my child however when I asked her exactly what she would do if her daughter said the above she couldn’t answer.

  28. by shut the f*** up christine

    On December 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Hey Christine (tw*t above me…)

    In the words of your daughter ‘you f*cking b*tch’. :)

    Like your new label? Cool. I hope your daughter calls you that every day for the rest of your life so you understand you really are a vile excuse for a human being.

    You DO NOT HIT. NO. Bad b*tch. Bad. Should I take your bone away? No treats for you. :)

    And as for the woman saying she didn’t know how to respond, she probably did not want a confrontation in the street. There are plenty of things you could have done. How about saying ‘I’m sorry you feel that way and I’m hurt that you feel the need to say those things. How about we take your sister home, get some coffee and discuss it?’. Get her opinion on it. Find out why she felt the need to treat you with such hostility. But you DO NOT HIT.

    You’re lucky the woman only commented on your immature behavior. If I had spotted the incident, I would have walked over, hit you exactly as you had hit your daughter, given your daughter a hug, and said ‘I’m sorry you live with such a monster.’ then proceeded to give her the numbers for Childline and similar helplines.

    You actual ****.

  29. by Shauna

    On December 27, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    I have JUST slapped my 9-year-old on the cheek for the first time ever. I think the kid has only been spanked maybe 6 times in all his 9 years. He is a very god, well behaved and respectful child as is his 5 1/2 year old brother. We have recently been dealing with (the last 3 days mostly) his lack of appreciation (not for Christmas situations, but for food more so) and his back sassing as well as lack of listening, especially at the dinner table. We have talked to him numerous times about why food shouldn’t be something you’re picky about. We talked till we were blue in the face! But, tonight, it just topped it off. He was moping and being unappreciative. I gave him and his brother a warning that if anyone complains about their food one more time their done and going straight to bed. Mind you that was at 6:30PM. Well…he did and with mad attitude too. I smacked him. Not terribly hard, but enough to leave a little pink on the cheek. I sent him to his room. I then explained what happened and why to our youngest who was NOW shoveling his food into his mouth. Then I excused myself upstairs to talk with my oldest. I asked him if he knew why he had been slapped. Then explained that it hurt me so badly and that I nor his father should ever have to use physical disciplined on him. We never had to before and we aren’t gonna start now. Words should always be enough. We talked a little more, I apologized for smacking him and kissed his cheek. Now they’ve finished eating without complaint. I sit here praying that I never have to deal with that again and that he really does understand why that happened. In my opinion, talking first is always useful and if that doesn’t work, confiscation, then move forward from there. Hopefully, you won’t have to.

  30. by Shauna

    On December 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    ALSO ___
    Re: to Christine #27
    I think you did the right thing. She is old enough to know better and your younger daughter will see that it is also unacceptable behavior.

  31. by slapped

    On January 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    I was slapped by my mother as a child and as a teenager (that was not all she did, but those are also moments that will stay with me). She says she was mentally abused as a child(she said, she always felt like her mother loved her sister more and was nicer to her) and was never hit/slapped/spanked, which she would have apparently preferred so that’s why she slapped me(thanks a lot, I would have preferred the other!). I still don’t really have a normal relationship with her, I force myself to stay in touch with her as I have a much younger brother and force myself to have some kind of relationship with her as I am older now (26) and live in another country (and she is my mother). The bond is broken. Years ago I would literally go months on end without talking to her and to this day I keep as much of my life to myself as I can. I tried talking to her about it and it’s always the same: ‘she didn’t/doesn’t know what else to do to discipline us’ and ‘some parents actually beat their kids’ lamest excuses ever! This from the same person, who is unable to say no( and stick with it) to watching TV/staying up late/playing with the iPad because it’s so annoying and difficult to say no to a pleading child! It IS more difficult to discipline WITHOUT hitting/spanking/slapping but does NOT mean it can’t be done. That’s ALL hitting is: taking the EASY way out!

    I have a far better relationship with my grandparents by the way (my mother’s parents who never ever hit her), who partially raised me. I have never been hit in any way by either of them, not even spanked. My grandpa was upset with me once and was actually red with rage, but still he managed to keep his cool and just left the room. that, and my grandma ‘threatening’ me with a slipper once, scared me far more than any physical punishment my mother dished out (and still is doing to my brother) there’s no coming back when you cross the line, especially if it doesn’t work the first time, by the third you think it’s ok, the child is already partially used to it so you have to go further, it becomes a vicious circle which just keeps escalating.

    So I guess what I’m trying to say is: a light spanking might be forgotten (although I won’t EVER forget my father spanking me with a belt and the humiliation of it) but a slap in the face, no matter what age most likely won’t be. I would never do it to my children! Please don’t do it to yours!

  32. by slapped

    On January 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    @all the people saying ‘he/she should have known better’ I don’t see police/your boss/the government slapping you every time you should have known better. yes, there are rules and, of course, there should always be consequences, but as far as I know, except for death penalty, no adult (that is anyone that is an adult as far as the laws go) is ever (not even for murder) punished physically, so how come you’re all so willing to punish kids this way for SAYING things ?

  33. by Mary

    On January 2, 2013 at 3:34 am

    My child was slapped across the face for not folding a blanket the way her father wanted while his girlfriend, her two children, his son & my other daughter just watched. He is getting used to striking her face & says he has “every right” cause he is the “father”. I say, if you want something done right, do it yourself. He is getting used to only striking my children but not another child. I do not think hitting any child is okay but I am at wits end! I do not want my children to think its okay to be struck across their faces as a form of discipline or become numb at the form of discipline he chooses. This is not okay with me at all, mentally. As child protective services told me they cannot do anytjing until there is a noticeable mark on them, I will not wait for that day to happen!

  34. by Granny

    On January 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    I witnessed our grandson slapped very hard across the face for talking back to his mother. The only words I heard him say very softly, not rudely and with no sharpness to his tone was “I don’t care.” Our daughter immediately yelled (screamed at him) and slapped him very hard. I wanted so badly to say something or go slap her and asked her how she liked to be slapped in front of others but I knew it would have only caused her to say I didn’t have any right to tell her how to discipline their child. My heart hurt so much for my grandson so I talked to him privately later about it. He admitted his mother has slapped him before several times. It was so obvious it hurt him terribly and he felt so humiliated. While I was telling him what a great child he was and hitting a child across the face hard is so terribly wrong, he wouldn’t look at me and became very sad and withdrawn only looking out the window. My heart bleeds for him and I don’t know what to do. His mother has anger issues and had to go thru so much as a teen (2 family member deaths, abandoned by father, plus other issues but she was never a problem). Apparently, things are much worse than I ever imagined with her anger issues. I don’t know if my son-in-law supports this punishment or if I should talk with him. Please advise how I should handle for my grandson’s welfare and also his mother’s problems.

  35. by Nick Shell

    On January 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    “Granny,” I’m asking other readers to advise you first. Then I’ll chime in… Thank you for reaching out to us!

  36. by Jarred Johnson

    On January 6, 2013 at 10:59 pm


    You may need to consider getting law enforcement involved, if you believe that the mom in question is indeed exceeding her parental discernment of what is considered abusive or even outright dangerous. In my humble opinion, a strike against the face whether open handed or closed falls within the definition of a misdemeanor assault and is punishable by domestic abuse laws no doubt published in your county/state of residence. You witnessed it, and the mom needs a third party, (law enforcement, Child Protective Services) to correct her in this moment. You would be doing the boy a HUGE favor later in life if this experience serves to protect him and his rights to live in a house that does not promote hitting. There are boundaries and this to me is very cut and dry.

    DO the right thing, call your local law enforcement agency, ask to speak to a detective and give them everything you can.

  37. by Holly

    On January 6, 2013 at 11:51 pm

    If I were in your situation, I would talk to your daughter before anything else. Based on what you mentioned that your daughter has been through, it sounds like she may be suffering from some deep seeded anger issues. I would talk to her about it and find out how open she is to getting help. If she refuses to do anything about the situation, let her know that you’re too concerned about your grandson to let things go and that someone else will have to intervene to correct the issue if she refuses to comply. At that point, if she refuses to seek help, I would say it’s appropriate to alert the authorities. It sounds like the trauma your daughter has dealt with is mostly family related and I think calling the authorities without going to her about it first would only create more pain and cause distrust. You want to make sure your daughter knows that you are concerned for her well-being as well as that of your grandson, but that her behavior is unacceptable and cannot continue.

  38. by Ferne

    On January 7, 2013 at 6:29 am


    I suggest speaking with your son first, or speak with your daughter in law and your son at the sane time. Perhaps your son isn’t aware. There are always legal ways to address it, but I would save that until speaking with them first. It doesn’t sound like your grandson is in life threatening danger, although, I can’t be sure. Law enforcement is also an option if you feel your discussions aren’t heeded well. Good luck. So sorry this is happening to your family.

  39. by Jim Jackson

    On January 7, 2013 at 8:15 am

    Seems to me the most important question is overtly missed in this string. What is the child learning? It may be possible for a child to learn to value right from wrong, and develop respect through any variety of discipline methods. To simply legislate whether slapping, spanking, time-outs, or removal of privileges is the “right” discipline, is to miss the point. As a follower of Jesus, I would assert that even the master teacher used all forms of “discipline” with his “children” His goal was always to change people’s hearts – to teach them eternal lessons: http://connectedfamilies.org/2012/12/06/would-jesus-spank/

    Having said all this, I would never slap a child and have a hard time believing a face slap would teach a child the things I want him or her to learn.

  40. by lisa robinson

    On January 8, 2013 at 3:14 am

    I have twin sons that at the moment are asleep but at that horrible age where all they do is destroy anything & everything & fight all day long & scream the entire time. I have never slapped either of my sons in the face for what they will always go back to doing daily anyways. I’ve learned to accept it & do the best I can to make sure no serious injury happens which is extremely hard to prevent when both are engaged in violent fighting tooth & nail, anything they can grab & use as weapon is fair game for them as well. There is no stopping what they won’t stop, all attempts even suggested tips of discipline advice have all been a failure. My 123 count is as close as it gets, I never get to 3 really, I get to 2 & they stop & ease away & you know what they always return to that same activity I had to give my count on anyways. They know better too, they do it just to do it. A little more than 19mths old & horrible monsters I call my baby sharks. They bite with intent, as of yesterday I see their faces both got some out of their fighting yesterday, tooth & nail. Nobody else sees all I see everyday. Then ask me why this or that? Their dad allows them to do anything, his discipline is a joke I laugh at, he says no, his spank is a tap on a diapered butt, equivelant to pushing one butt cheek, they never listen to him. Why would they? They barely listen to me, my 123 count is my only tool since all other options & attempts to make positive change with discipline have amounted to nothing except my sons return to their horrible bad fighting screaming & aggressive behavior. Rewarding the good didn’t do a thing except let them in on what chocolate was, which I never give them but have maybe twice. I dont allow all the junk food, sugar, candy, soda or unhealthy foods I dont even eat or buy & dont keep in my house so there is no way they would even be mistakenly given a food I wouldn’t normally allow. On occassion I allow a little koolaid & crackers are their cookies & in general they eat what we eat. Slapping a kid wont change them, beating them wont either. It didnt work on me so what makes me think it would on my sons. I have come to accept their phaze & cope with it. For the Granny people like my own mother, mind your own business, if you are not the parent you have no say, even if you make a report what makes that report any good if you didnt witness & it can easily be denied by the person. A child would lie as well & say it didnt happen because they are scared of the evil doer. I have alot to say but wont make any more comment, for my own good.

  41. by Tara

    On January 13, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I have seen the direct results of face slapping. My husband, from another part of the world, was treated severely as a child and as a result seems to have no problem with slapping our children, particularly our son, across the face.Our son is the best little boy you could imagine and always tries to please, but just one wrong move is enough to get this reaction from his Dad. Although I’ve warned his Dad many times about the consequences of slapping across the face, he continues to do so and seems to have little control over his actions. Our son is turning against his Dad and just today he said he felt like running away, that he couldn’t take it anymore. If face slapping results in a response like this from a child how can it be right?? I consider it completely inappropriate to slap a child’s face-it is totally humiliating for the child and because it so close to their line of vision I feel the impact of the slap is far more frightening and shocking than a slap to the back of the hand.I could never see a valid reason for slapping a child’s face. A tap to the hand is where I draw the line. Furthermore, it has been proven that positive reinforcement is far more beneficial in the long run than negative reinforcement. Keep this in mind.

  42. by Sherry

    On January 18, 2013 at 2:48 am

    You might be sorry in the end…My mom slapped us.beat us with a belt…Told us if we have to get in trouble get yourself out..She told Lies about us..when I was 12 she said I was Sexually active..(This was in 1960′s…I had not a clue) We got slapped in the face with hair brushes..when we were little we were duct taped to our high chairs..We got beat till blood runs down our legs..I was slapped in public in a beauty polar at 7 years old because the Lady doing my hair wanted to know what all the KNOT on my head were from..and I said ask my mom….TODAY..my mom is ALONE..none of us kids go see her or call her or want anything to do with her..Dad died 5 years ago and circled his death bed and would not let us near him..she has cancer..she calls..I ignore..NOT GOING to her SEE HER..NOT GOING TO HER FUNERAL..I am NOT TELLING you EVERYTHING SHE DID….but she never said she loved me..never kissed me..and I ever was…is black in BLUE>>>so think about your attack plan..cause your CHILD will NEVER FORGET…PAIN oR WHO INFLICTED IT…on them…THINK ABOUT BEING A GRANDMA…cause my mom NeVER gets to see her GRANDIES…no one wants her MEAN ARS AROUND THEM!

  43. by Logan

    On January 23, 2013 at 3:46 am

    I personally see nothing wrong with slapping your child or any child in the face if it is for punishments and the slapper being a parent or an authority figure in the child’s life.

    Unlike a spanking, if it leaves a bruise then yes there may be the possibility of abuse but no always.
    A red mark that lasts for a few hours is nothing to worry about. A spanking though, if there are bruises anywhere except on that butt then there is more than likely a problem.

    I see a smack to the face as having two uses. One being when the child speaks disrespectfully to anyone outside the child’s peers. The second is to get the child’s attention when they are in hysterics, moment’s of hyperactivity/sensory overload. Granted the second case shouldn’t be used that often.

    Granted though this is a coming from a guy who makes his kids drop and do push-ups, flutter-kicks and Hello Dollys either in the home or in public. I save the spankings for extreme cases of disobedience and disrespect.

  44. by Erica

    On January 23, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    I can speak on both ends of the issue. As a child, I was spanked often and slapped/popped whatever you want to call it often as well from 18 months old until I was 17 years old. I was also a really good kid. I made honor roll or better every single year and I am now working on my master’s degree and have an 18 month old of my own. I do believe there were times I consider what my parents were doing as abuse and I have struggled with it at times, but now that I have a child of my own I think it really depends on the situation. Parents are imperfect people trying their best to raise a child when they have no experience and bad role models. Many times parents do not know how to handle a situation or they do what comes automatically. I’m not proud to admit this, but there have been three times when I have popped/slapped my son on his cheek, not out of anger or anything like that, but because he hit/headbutted/bit me out of anger and I instantly reacted that way. He has never been spanked as a form of discipline, I usually do a firm no and time out. Immediately I feel terrible after I do it, especially because of how upset he gets after, but at the same time, I can see that it can be used to teach a child that it hurts when you hit someone. I wish I could train myself not to automatically respond that way and I hope I’m not psychologically damaging him or anything, but at the same time, how else do you teach a child not to hit because it hurts and someone bigger might hit you back?

  45. by Michel

    On February 13, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I see your point. I myself believe that we need to make our kids mind for their own good in later years. I was beat when I was a kid by my drunk Dad,I felt when I was a kid that all parents beat their kids, I see a spanking on the but as a small thing, I think maybe the reason why we go that way is because the but can take it..a face is a little more tender but also, if we can find a better way to make our kids mind I’m all for it..I only wiped my child a few times when she was young with me she was a good kid..thank God, but I see how kids are today..I just beleive that we do need to teach are kids to do right and try to find a way that works..if a belt is what it takes then use it..all kids are not the same..

  46. by Daren Hidrogo

    On February 25, 2013 at 10:01 pm

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  47. by Macy

    On March 3, 2013 at 6:43 am

    We have never slapped faces in our family over the last 5 generations, that I personally know about. The most has been a rare swat on the hand, or on the rear. That was all that was needed to convey to a very young child that this was serious. Such as no fingers in the electrical socket.

    What happened to having a quiet authority over a child based on respect? My Grandfather carried himself that way with all of us. He never does any disciplining out of anger, or raised his voice. All he did was give you this disapproving look and none of us wanted that to happen. We wanted his approval and respect.

    Now if I could just bottle that up and peddle it, I would be rich!

  48. by mama432

    On March 7, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I have a son who’s 5 almost 6 and I have tried everything for disiplinging him. Sometimes he spits and won’t stop so I pop him not hard in the mouth to shock him and warn him to stop sitting. Spanking made him more violent towards everyone. When I changed to time outs they work much better. But sometimes as parents I think we get so angry we spank and yes I feel guilty when I spank like I couldn’t just drag him to time out. Sometimes I think spankings more for the parent. If I could I would never spank my little guy but times when hedoes something that could harm him its a good idea to scare them into not doing it again.

  49. by chris

    On March 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I called the police when I witnessed a mother slap her preschool aged child in a store. The child was whining asking for something and she hauled off and slapped him. I’m shocked anyone thinks this is acceptable. Luckily, the mother did this in full view of one of the store’s security cameras, there was video of it and the police and CPS were very proactive. The mother appeared to be an immigrant so perhaps she wasn’t use to the way Americans few child abuse but I’m surprised anyone thinks slapping a small child in the face is ever acceptable.

  50. by Sarah

    On April 8, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    My mom used to pop my on the mouth as a child if I said something obscene. Not a slap but an open fist pop with her fingers together. It was more of a shock than painful. I also got the belt, never more than three and watching my father spank my little brothers as a grew up, I realized how soft it really was. It was more of this fear of the belt that set us all straight.

    Once my sister bit me and my mom “bit” her back. Really she just put her teeth on my sister but oh man did that have an effect. We never bit again. We were also pretty convinced our mother was a lunatic and that she wasn’t playing by the parent rules.

    Our faces: http://24.media.tumblr.com/161cdfab9672baf3b567aae207a0c111/tumblr_mi1mtbOJqE1rqfhi2o1_250.gif

    I’m 23 and pretty convinced I turned out just fine. Also as a family we get a kick out of the biting story now.
    Theres a difference between abuse and discipline.

  51. by Lisa olivo

    On April 16, 2013 at 10:24 am


    I understand that people see this as ok and also consider spanking or pinching ok. I grew up being disciplined in such a manner. However, I have also taken many psychology classes and have learned and agree with the outcome of what physical punishment does. I am a mother of a 16 month old. There have been times that I wanted to spank him for doing something. However, it is a daily conscious effort to not do so. For one, they don’t understand why they were hit. A parent should not be the one inflicting pain-rather, they should be the one protecting them from it. I have not so good memories of my discipline as a child and I declared I won’t spank my child. He won’t get away with anything either. The most I do would be pop his hand. I am a member of a child abuse organization and it kills me to see videos of children being “disciplined” and it was taken too far or reading their stories. I hug my child whenever I read those stories because I could not imagine someone going overboard on my child. I have vowed not to spank and no one else will be able to either on my child. However, we can not force any parent to think as we do. I just always hope when a person does that, they are truly doing it because of the child’s actions and not from frustration, which usually seems to be a harder hit. Thank you.

  52. by Mom of two littles

    On April 23, 2013 at 7:53 am

    So, I clicked on this forum because this morning, as I was putting my 2 1/2 year old son in his carseat, he pinched me on the neck VERY HARD and hurt me for no reason. I lost my temper and smacked him in the face because I couldn’t get to his bottom. I feel really horrible about it. I lost my temper; I am human. I feel better knowing that there are parents out there who are facing similar challenges. Reading what some of the teenagers have posted on this forum may also help me to reign in my immediate reaction the next time my son hurts me in close proximity. Being a parent will challenge you – mentally, physically and spiritually – to be certain.

  53. by The Slap Video | Pen Pal

    On February 12, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    [...] A slap in the face: child abuse or discipline? A year and a half. back in february when i was doing some research as i wrote “4 out of 5 parents spank their kids” i read that slapping a child in the. [...]

  54. by | Latina Mommy

    On March 9, 2015 at 9:08 am

    [...] night, my husband and I were floored when the young boy, Hugo, of The Slap, was struck across the face by a non-parental figure. My husband’s hot blood boiled him up enough to say, “If Hugo’s [...]