I was asked to lead the children’s liturgy at my church. As part of my training, I had to take an online course titled Shield the Vulnerable. It was about how to identify sexual, physical and emotional abuse, and how to report it to authorities.
Most of it was self-explanatory, although I was stuck on the chapter about physical abuse as it tried to differentiate that from corporal punishment.
For example, here is one of the questions I got wrong. Because I did not write it down, I will paraphrase:
A.) Every Saturday, Reggie puts his 5-year-old son over his knee and spanks him with an open hand. Even if he has not seen his son do anything wrong, he knows that he is capable of misbehaving and the spanking is in response to that.
B.) Once or twice, Willy has whipped his 5-year-old son with a bamboo whip on his bare buttocks, leaving red welts. He reserves this form of punishment for only the worst misbehavior and relies on this form of punishment because he says it is quick.
C.) About once a month, Ginny gets so upset over her 5-year-old daughter’s incessant crying that she gives her a 10-minute timeout in her bedroom.
The course asked us to pick the MOST LIKELY scenario of physical child abuse. I had a hard time deciding between “A” and “B” as I thought both these fathers sounded abusive. I chose “A” because I thought it was effed up that Reggie was hitting his son for no reason.
The answer was “B” because Willy was leaving marks and using a foreign object to hit his child. Reggie was merely disciplining his son, and spanking is considered an acceptable form of punishment in some cultures. Wow, am I so far removed from that world.
Can you tell the difference between physical abuse and corporal punishment?