The 7 Parenting Controversies that Changed the Way We Raised Our Kids in 2011

Physical Discipline Comes into the Spotlight

woman holding belt

Dan Saelinger

What happened: A number of vivid stories brought the issue of spanking and corporal punishment into focus in 2011. Perhaps the most discussed was the video posted this fall by 23-year-old Hillary Adams showing her as a teenager being cursed at and whipped with a belt by her father, a Texas judge. Among the other stories that made news:

  • Alaskan mom Jessica Beagley was convicted of misdemeanor child abuse charges for squirting hot sauce in her 7-year-old son's mouth as a punishment.
  • Three children whose parents had copies of a Tennessee pastor's pro-spanking book in their homes died after beatings. The parents of one of the children were convicted of homicide by abuse.
  • A mother of three was sentenced in Texas to three years probation by a judge who said, "You don't spank children today."

Why it's controversial: The issue of whether to use physical techniques for disciplining children is always a divisive one. Many parents, especially conservative Christians who believe that spanking is biblically mandated, advocate corporal punishment. But confronted with the disturbing image of Adams' beating and the spate of deaths, the line between discipline and abuse is a renewed source of controversy and debate.

How it impacted your life: In the wake of these stories, many of you defended your family's decision to either use spanking or not, and especially your right to make that decision for yourselves -- within the boundaries of safety and the law, of course.

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