There is a commercial on television for Jello Temptations where a mother is shown talking to her kids in a tent obviously in the back yard of some suburban home about the “Choco Beast”. Suddenly the dad jumps at the tent silhouetted by the light and the kids go running into the house throwing the dessert at the mother. Every time I see it I laugh but I also think about the reality of that situation. Maybe the mom is doing a good thing and teaching the children about stealing and lying, but maybe, just maybe those kids, if this were a real situation, would end up being scarred for life.
Childhood traumas are particularly harmful if caused by a parent. If a parent, one who is supposed to be a child’s safety net, causes physical or emotional pain to a child, their whole emotional welfare is at stake. Child abuse, as with most domestic abuse situations, that transcends social economic levels as well as many cultural moirés. It can perpetuate itself in the lifecycle as many children who are abused as children abuse their children later. In addition, many children turn the violence out and bully others because it is a way for them to strike back, or they turn inward and allow others to abuse them. It can start the cycle of domestic violence as many boys who are abused as children grow up to abuse their wives. With 905,000 cases in 2006 and growing every year, you can see that this is a wide spread issue.
Many parents view spanking and other corporal means of punishment as harmless. They quote the axiom “spoil the rod, spare the child” as the reason that spanking is warranted for a myriad of transgressions. It builds character, they say, but what it can really do is sow the seeds of pain, despair, anger, humiliation, confusion, and anger. But most importantly is that child abuse can cause a continuation of a cycle of violence. Child abuse is no laughing matter and is a worldwide issue that needs our constant vigilance and attention.