By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
Here is the breathless headline from “fair and balanced” FoxNews:
Dad Arrested After 2-Year-Old Texas Girl Dies Following Spanking
This is an atrocious headline, a terribly distorted headline, for one simple reason: it’s flatly not true.
And the first line of the story is equally and just as terribly and horrendously wrong:
“Nicholas Williams was arrested last week after police say he spanked his 2-year-old daughter so hard that she died, MyFoxAustin reports.”
The girl did not die from a spanking. She died from a brutal beating at the hands of her father.
This is evident from even a cursory scan of the article itself. The last paragraph reports on what the coroner found after performing an autopsy. The deputy medical examiner “noticed several bruises on the victim’s head, face, back, buttocks, chest and arms. The injuries were greatest in the head and buttocks region according to the arrest affidavit. The preliminary cause of death was ruled to be blunt force injuries.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is not a spanking. It is a savage and inexcusable beating. Hitting a defenseless child in the head is not a form of spanking. Nor is hitting a child in the back, arms and chest. The father was charged with felony injury to a child, which is preposterous. He should have been charged with first degree murder.
The child was eating poop, and so some form of discipline was necessary simply to protect the child from herself. Every parent wants his child to see his next birthday, and eating your own poop is not one of the ways to get there. But this wasn’t a spanking.
Spanking, if administered properly, is not a form of child abuse at all but a necessary form of parental correction and training. Spanking should be applied only to the child’s bottom, and should be done in a measured fashion, with a neutral object and a limited number of strokes. There is no need for a properly administered spanking to leave bruises.
The purpose of the spanking is to sting, not to wound. The purpose of corporal discipline is to help the child connect disobedience to pain, because that is the way that life works. You ignore right standards of behavior, you’re going to pay a price for it in the end. The Scriptures have been right for 2000 years: “If a man sows to the flesh, he shall from the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8).
I’d rather have my child learn that lesson in childhood from his father than have life teach it to him the hard way when he is an adult.
A properly administered spanking will break a child’s stubborn will but leave his body unharmed.
Not only is spanking itself not child abuse, the ancient book of Proverbs, in its time-tested storehouse of wisdom, states plainly that for a parent not to correct a child who needs it is itself a form of child abuse:
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him” (Prov. 13:24).
When I spanked our children, I never told them “I love but I have to spank you.” No, I told them, “I must spank you because I love you. I love you too much not to discipline you when I see behavior in you that I know will only hurt you and others as you grow up.” Childish rebellion, if allowed to grow unchecked, will produce the kind of adult rebellion against moral authority that will have devastating consequences for everyone in that person’s life, including himself.
Because we are all born fallen creatures, with an innate self-centeredness and narcissism, each one of us has the capacity to turn into a monster if that self-centered savagery is not corrected during our journey to adulthood. As the Proverbs puts it,
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Prov. 22:15).
And the Scriptures make it clear that what this father did is not a biblical form of discipline, because it resulted in death rather than life:
“Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.
Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death” (Prov. 23:13-14).
The purpose of lovingly applied discipline is to train, to mature, to help a child learn the difference between right and wrong, and to help a child develop self-control and the capacity to make good moral choices. That is the path that leads to life.
To borrow from a Founding Father, if men were angels, spanking would not be any more necessary than government. But alas, we are not angels, and neither are our young children.
Fox News’s reporting on this tragic death is not only grossly irresponsible and inaccurate, it seems designed to impugn the whole concept of parent-administered discipline, which is a necessary and useful tool in training children to become mature, responsible adults.
Fox has done a terrible disservice to parents and to their children here, and should be embarrassed at the one-sided and grossly erroneous work its reporter and editor have done here.
Properly administered discipline, in fact, makes everybody happy in the end:
“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.
“Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul” (Prov. 29:15, 17).
If I have to choose between FoxNews and the word of God on this one, I’m going with God.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)