(content note: discussion of parenting, child abuse, spanking)
Reading arguments written by proponents of spanking / corporal punishment, and realizing something fundamental about how social norms view children—
Which is to say, not as real people whose experiences matter, but as “pre-people” who need to be molded into adults.
This is why we have a parenting model of discipline that’s based entirely on shaping the child into a functioning adult, and that justifies all treatment of the child based on this.
This is why whether a particular harmful punishment is “justified” solely depends on whether there are successful adults who suffered that punishment and now think it’s okay.
It’s why all the cases we identify as “real” child abuse are cases where we either (1) don’t expect the child to survive to adulthood because of how they’re being treated, or (2) expect them to grow up into a physically/psychologically damaged adult because of the harm they suffered.
It’s why adults can argue that corporal punishment is okay by saying things like, “I was beaten and given bruises and I turned out just fine!” and people find this argument convincing.
Because the bruises the child suffered don’t count. What counts is that the adult is now “just fine”.
But children are people all their lives, and pain isn’t magically harmless before the age of 18.
It’s wrong to hit an adult even if they aren’t scarred by it. It’s wrong to hit a child for the exact same reason.