Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why Parents Hit Their Children: Stopping The Cycle of Child Abuse

“The sins of the father shall be visited upon the son” a very powerful and well known biblical
reference, from the book of Ezekiel, regarding the raising of one’s family to be righteous. In fact, when we consider the implications involved in parenting and raising a family, no truer words have ever been spoken, but not for the reasons one might think. Biblically, the inference of sinfulness is generally interpreted as impiety, and is avoided via the father teaching a familial pattern of pious worship.

So how does this infamous quote from scripture apply to the modern family and why is it relevant?  This profound and insightful verse is speaking to the multi-generational system of learned behavior that exists within a family. The question then becomes, how do people learn? Cultural Anthropology suggests the most powerful form of learning is observational. Therefore, we learn what we live, which is to say that which we see every day determines how we behave with one another other.
Consequently, if a parent physically disciplines their children then so too will the children grow to hit their children when they misbehave. It follows then, that should the parent hit their partner in the presence of the child, then the child learns frustration is relieved and arguments are settled through physical force. In short, according to Jon Piper, “the sins of the fathers are punished in the children through becoming the sins of the children,” which is to say, through observation and experience children learn what they live.  

Fortunately, through a combination of increased awareness and psycho-education in the areas of parenting, anger management, stress management and domestic violence programs it is more than possible to stop the multi-generational cycle of child abuse. However, the first step is increasing awareness. For purposes of clarity, please note that in the state of California the only legal form of physical punishment a parent may use to correct a transgression is for the parent to spank their child one time with an open hand upon the child’s posterior. In addition, California further defines child abuse as any form of physical contact that leaves a mark including spanking should the spanking leave any marks upon the child’s posterior. If you, or someone you love, is a victim of child abuse as stated above, intimate partner violence, or other form of emotional or mental abuse including neglect help is available 24-7 by calling 211, 1-800-540-4000, or 911. Remember, only through awareness and advocacy will change occur. Being a child doesn’t have to hurt!

For more information or resources about parenting, anger management, or domestic violence batterers’ information programs please visit For information about child abuse resources or support please visit .


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