by Darlene Barriere
(Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada)
Recently, I was on a forum where a parent described and extolled the virtues of administering a bare-bottom spanking to her 13-year-old daughter. The mother detailed how she and her husband had made their daughter take down her pants and underwear, and then made her bend over and grab her ankles. The father then administered 10 hard swats to the daughter's bottom, using a paddle that had been drilled with holes.
Many replied to this particular post, citing the merits of spanking as an effective form of discipline and offering their support to the woman who had started the post. One outraged responder accused the parents of sexual abuse, to which many others replied in the negative. The answer that was picked as the best one came from a contributor who had basically told the outraged individual to calm down. She hailed the parent for disciplining their child, but did go on to say that baring the girl's bottom had been un-necessary.
My Comments: Whether or not you approve of spanking, the response from the outraged contributor was one that warrants some discussion.
The definition of sexual abuse includes forcing a child to expose themselves. You may be saying, "Don't be ridiculous, these parents were simply doing their job by administering a spanking to an unruly daughter."
Yes, one could successfully argue that the exposure was done for the sole purpose of discipline, not for the purpose of sexual gratification; therefore, doesn't fall under the intended definition of sexual abuse. But an argument could still be made for sexual abuse since the act of spanking itself can be considered a sexual act. This is not as far-fetched as you might think, especially in the context of a pubescent girl whose genitals were exposed for the purpose of meting out a spanking.
Before you say, "No kid would embarrass themselves further by trying to argue this in a court of law", consider this:
While laws in the United States and other countries currently have a statute of limitations on reporting child abuse, Canada does not. An adult—or child--can report what is called historical child abuse, years after the alleged abuse occurred. Yes, it would take a willing prosecutor to bring forth charges. And yes, it would require enough evidence for a judge to rule that indeed sexual assault had taken place. But it is possible.
And even if you don't believe there is a case for sexual abuse, remember that in Canada, we have a spanking law that prohibits spanking children before the age of 2 and after the age of 12. The use of implements--in this case, a paddle with holes drilled into it--is also prohibited. In Canada, there would be a case for child abuse.
Parents who employ bare-bottom spankings where the child is required to grab his or her ankles, put themselves at risk for a charge, and quite possibly, a conviction of sexual assault. If parents who administer these bare-bottom spankings to their teens don't re-consider their stance, the court of public opinion won't matter; it may well become a matter for a court of law.
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