Parents need to learn the difference between discipline & child abuse

sad child on benchA Gulfport, Florida father, Irving Maurice Millard, has been charged with child abuse this week after he forced his 5-year-old son to do "bear crawls" for several blocks on his bare hands atop scorching pavement for losing his shoes.

This is not the first time the 32-year-old father has done this. Neighbors have seen Millard, who they call "drill Sergeant dad" doing the same thing to another child in the past few weeks. According to the arrest affidavit, the 5-year-old was crying and sweating profusely from the pain and had swelling and blisters forming on both hands.

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Today, people don't spank their kids because they are afraid of government agencies swooping in and taking their children from them and even placing the parents in jail. Instead, some parents are turning to timeouts and other more civilized forms of punishment. The problem is that some kids don't respond to verbal discipline. Other parents are trying to figure out ways to punish their kids without actually beating them. They are getting inventive, just like this crazy drill sergeant dad who made his kids do bear crawls in 91 degree weather. It turns out that these alternatives are actually quite a bit more cruel and unusual and equally as scarring as spanking.

I don't spank because I was excessively spanked as a child and I just don't know that I trust myself to know how much is enough and how much is too much. I try to use timeouts, discussions, and groundings as consequences but sometimes they just don't work. My girls are old enough to have figured out that they can go without and that my threats of spanking are idle at best.

This man was definitely out of line, but I am sure that after one session of bear crawling, that kid would never repeat that mistake. When I was a child, I had a friend whose parents were into the alternative punishments and one day, I witnessed the punishment for ignoring a direct order from her own drill sergeant dad. He placed uncooked rice on the floor and had her, then 8, kneel down onto the rice, put both arms out to the side and hold an encyclopedia in each hand. The punishment for dropping the books was a spanking. She had to do this for half an hour. He told me to sit there and wait until she was done. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life.

She knelt there, tears streaming down her face, arms turning to jelly as she refused to let them drop. She was in a lot of pain and all I wanted to do was tell her dad that I would take the spanking for her because as much as I hated being spanked and as often as I had been spanked, anything seemed less cruel and painful than kneeling on rice holding encyclopedias for 30 minutes. Did I mention that this kid was an A+ student who hardly ever disobeyed anyone?

All I know is that his "alternative punishment" seemed more like child abuse than any beating I had ever gotten. He punished her physically, mentally and spiritually. He humiliated her in front of me and made me watch.

Millard making his 5-year-old bear crawl continuously in unbearable heat was cruel and unusual and he should have his children taken away from him until he can learn how to treat his children. This is the world we live in where parents are so afraid of going to jail for spanking their children that they resort to more cruel and unusual discipline methods that don't leave the physical evidence like bruising.

Image via U.S. Fotografie/Flickr

Topics: abuse  bad parenting  discipline