Hitting Kids Upside the Head is ABUSE

Pulling quotes from various places:

Help prevent shaken baby syndrome

  • Never shake a baby. Also, do not slap or hit a child of any age on the face or head. A child’s brain is very delicate. Shaking, slapping, or hitting a child can cause serious harm, even though it may not leave any obvious sign of injury. –Healthwise staff, Shaken Baby Syndrome: Home Treatment


Hitting a child around the head or neck and/or using a stick, belt or other object to discipline or punishing a child (in a non-trivial way) is a crime. –Australian page, What is Child Abuse?


HEAD BLOWS ARE DANGEROUS; WALTER GREEN’S ILLNESS DUE TO A SLAP IN THE FACE. Dr. Brinkmann Says Children’s Skulls Are Thin and Cuffing Them Is Cruel and Almost Always Dangerous —

He Believed in Making an Example of Charles Peyser, Who Struck Young Green —

The Latter’s Mother Refused to Prosecute Peyser Because His Family Depends on Him.

Walter Green, the seven-year-old child of John J. Green of 1,988 Third Avenue, is lying ill with meningitis, the result of a blow on the left side of his head and face dealt to him in a moment of anger by Charles Peyser, who lives with his parents next door to the Green family.

“…I will say that I caused the arrest of Mr. Peyser for the sake of making an example of persons who angrily or thoughtlessly strike children upon the head or face.

“Every person of common sense knows–or ought to know, for it has been said and written often enough–that to strike a child’s head is not only cruel but almost always dangerous….

“And a child’s skull is so much more fragile [than an adult’s] that to strike it roughly is inhuman and outrageous.” —1893 article published in the New York Times


A spanking is not the same thing as a swat upside the head. You don’t hit kids in the head. —kairparavel, forum post


Kairparavel is absolutely right. You don’t hit kids in the head. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t hit ANYONE of any age in the head unless it’s a definite matter of self-defense or defending the helpless from immediate attack.

Brain injury is a serious thing, and you never know when you might slip and a “swat upside the head” becomes something that causes real damage.  We’re not talking “emotional trauma” here but problems with basic brain functions. —Ormond, same thread


Having said that, don’t hit your kid in the head. That’s fucking stupid. –Drowned Crow, same thread


Kids are smaller and much more easily hurt than adults. They are in danger of being hurt very badly if someone loses control.

    • Never hit a baby—hitting can break bones.
    • Never shake a baby—shaking can cause brain damage.
    • Never hit kids when you are angry—you may hit too hard.
    • Never hit kids around the face, head, chest or back.
    • Never use sharp things to punish kids.
    • Never ram bottles, spoons or other things into kids’ mouths.

New laws will also make it illegal for parents to hit children of any age on the head, shake them or strike them with an implement such as a belt or slipper.  —http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-71157/A-crime-smack-child.html

1. Physical abuse

Including assault and any deliberate act resulting in physical injuries, including beatings in the guise of corporal punishment but which are delivered with fists or to the child’s head.

The work of Lewis and Pincus in the States is relevant here – in many violent criminals, especially serial killers, they’ve found evidence of brain damage during childhood from parental beatings and accidents which have resulted in a smaller than normal cortex, with consequent lack of ability to control violent tendencies. —7 types of child abuse

Remember to keep your rules succinct and simple and, whether or not you agree in spanking a child, never to shake a child or hit them in the head. —Michael Meyerhoff

Stockholm Syndrome and Abuse:

The upshot of this delayed sequence of events is that the parent believes that the punishment has been effective, because the fear has temporarily stopped the unwanted behavior in the child, and has given the parent the belief he/she has taught the child a lesson.

The child (although most admit they hate their parents during spankings) is led to believe the fiction that they were “bad,” they deserved their punishment, and they will be better kids because of it.

We have all heard people say, “I hated my father when he was hitting me, but now I know he did it because he loved me and wanted me to be good.” —The Dangers Associated with Hitting Children

You’ll often find people saying that kids today don’t behave because they’re not whacked or yelled at.  But this isn’t true, because I’ve seen a household where kids were constantly yelled at and whacked, and yet the kids still kept acting up in various ways all the time.

Don’t you see they’re imitating the parents?  That’s not being the adult and taking control, that’s acting like a child and losing control to punish the children. They pick up on that.

I remember being a child vividly: Kids want to behave for kind and gentle people, and want to misbehave for mean people.  They want boundaries, but they also want to be able to tell a difference between a kid and an adult.

You tell them don’t hit, but then beat them for not behaving.  You tell them to quiet down, but yell and scream at them.  You tell them to behave, but yell and scream at each other.  How is smacking them around going to get them to act like adults?

Reasons why some people don’t understand Emotional Abuse

What is Emotional Abuse?

I saw all these people changing their Facebook profile pics because of child abuse, which is fine.  But what I want to see is lives changed.

My parents did not abuse me, but child abuse makes me very angry just the same.  I get furious whenever I think of how somebody I used to know would treat her husband and children, things she would do right in front of me as if daring me to object:

She smacked a three-year-old in the back of the head so hard her tongue flew out.  One moment I see two children dancing, the next moment I see her going ballistic on them for no reason I can tell, screaming and slapping and spanking.

I heard her belittle her oldest child more than once.  Once she came and picked up the children after I babysat, and even though she hadn’t seen them for hours and it was just a few minutes later, I could hear her screaming at them in the car while I went back to the house.  Not yelling, screaming.  How could she have gotten so angry so fast?

Then there were the stories I heard of what she did in the privacy of their home: screaming, cussing, spanking too hard, hitting her husband.

And when she discovered my reaction was not to bow to her superior parenting skills, or support the way she treated her husband, I became her next target.  She focused her ire on me supposedly “going after” her husband, which was a red herring–and allowed her to completely ignore the true reason, and her own responsibility, for my not wanting to be around her.

She is gone out of my life.

It makes me so mad to think of these things.  I want these things to STOP.  I want to see parents treating their children with compassion and gentleness because they are, after all, just children.  I want to see spouses treating each other with love and respect, not like possessions or slaves.

So in remembrance of child abuse, I’m writing this rather than changing my profile pic.

Because I saw that woman–very tall, probably about 200 pounds–smacking a tiny three-year-old girl–small for her age–on the back of her head, and because I was shocked and appalled to find people on the Internet saying that it’s not abuse to do that, in the following research I specifically looked for information on the effects of smacking small children on the back of the head, or anywhere else on the head for that matter, such as the face.

(You have to be careful in research like this because “smack” means “spank” in many countries, and I’m not concerned about light, quick spanks to the well-padded butt.)

I’m less concerned about the effects on older children or teenagers (though I don’t condone that, either) because their heads are more developed and teenagers are practically fully-grown.

But smacking small children is especially risky because of their lack of physical development, small size, and the risk of sending them into a table, TV or other piece of furniture.  Toddlers have been killed this way.

These same people also thought that it would be wrong to even notice and praise one of their children for doing a chore, as if it would somehow spoil her (then wondered why they couldn’t get their kids to do chores).

I’d hear the mother belittle and humiliate her children.  I heard her threaten to spank one child (only 3 years old at the time and only just potty trained) if she wet her pants again.

To hear that woman’s husband joke about smacking kids and apparently condone it, disgusted me, and more than once I made my feelings known.

(Heck, once the husband told me several disturbing things: that his father had abused him–and he deserved it–that he was a terrible kid and that turned him around; that he had once locked the children in a closet to get them to listen to their mother and would probably have to do it again; and he downplayed the verbal abuse I witnessed his wife doing to him.)

This is probably why, a very short time afterwards, they both started bullying me on Facebook and the friendship soon ended.

My mother and father never smacked me anywhere on my head.  When an older brother smacked me one day, my mother became very angry with him and said to never do that.

My parents raised me in the days when you could still use a paddle, which I don’t condone nowadays, but I don’t remember them ever doing anything that was abusive, at least according to the standards of the 70s and early 80s.

Of course I did naughty things from time to time, as all children do, but I turned out fine without being abused by my parents.

–Head injury can result in severe brain damage, including brain stem compression and herniation, blindness, deafness, mental retardation, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, skull fracture, paralysis, and coma or death.

–Injury to the hypothalamus and pituitary glands in the brain can result in growth impairment and inadequate sexual development.

–Less severe but repeated blows to the head can also result in equally serious brain damage. This type of injury may be detectable only with a CT scan, and, in the absence of obvious signs of external trauma, may go unnoticed.

–Blows or slaps to the side of the head over the ear can injure the inner ear mechanism and cause partial or complete hearing loss. — [ note: document has been altered since this page was published ] Effects of Abuse and Neglect on Infants and Toddlers

In the course of figuring out what to consider legal physical punishment in Canada, who can do it and what they can do, the Ontario Superior Court noted in 1999 that

The Court recognized the “growing body of evidence that even mild forms of corporal punishment do no good and may cause harm”. The Court’s decision noted that experts from both sides agreed that:

(1) “hitting a child under two is wrong and harmful … has no value and can destroy a child’s sense of security and self-esteem,”

(2) physical punishment of teenagers “is not helpful and potentially harmful,”

(3) “corporal punishment using objects such as belts, rulers, etc. is potentially harmful both physically and emotionally and should not be tolerated,”

(4) “physical punishment should never involve a slap or blow to the head,”

(5) “corporal punishment which causes injury is child abuse”.

It was noted in the decision that not a single expert witness advocated or recommended physical punishment as a form of discipline.

Later, the Supreme Court of Canada

“narrowed the definition of who may use physical punishment, on what ages, body parts and capacities of children, with what force, and in what circumstances.

(1) Only parents may use reasonable physical punishment. Teachers may use reasonable force only to “remove a child from a classroom or to secure compliance with instructions, but not merely as corporal punishment”.

(2) Only children older than two and not yet teenagers may be physically punished.

(3) The use of force on children “incapable of learning from [it] because of disability or some other contextual factor” is not protected.

(4) Only “minor corrective force of a transitory and trifling nature” may be used.

(5) “Discipline by the use of objects or blows or slaps to the head is unreasonable”.

(6) “Degrading, inhuman or harmful conduct is not protected”.

(7) The physical punishment must be “corrective, which rules out conduct stemming from the caregiver’s frustration, loss of temper or abusive personality”.

(8) “The gravity of the precipitating event is not relevant”.

(9) The question of what is “reasonable under the circumstances” requires an “objective” test and “must be considered in context and in light of all the circumstances of the case.” —Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth


also see Spare Us the “Spare the Rod”

“Child abuse is rarely premeditated. It occurs when caregivers lose control–often while trying to stop behavior (such as crying) or when punishing perceived transgressions (such as toileting accidents).

Caregivers cause injuries by shaking, throwing, hitting, slapping, gagging, strangling and smothering children.

Children with physical, cognitive, emotional and developmental disabilities, and those with physical health problems, are more vulnerable to maltreatment.

Inflicted head injuries occur predominantly in children younger than 3 years. Although inflicted head injuries are less common than accidental head injuries, they’re more likely to cause morbidity and mortality.

Survivors of inflicted head injuries commonly experience behavioral, cognitive and motor disabilities, as well as visual impairments and seizures.

….”Brain and other injuries occur when applied forces strain brain and other tissues beyond their structural tolerance. Primary mechanisms of injury include forces developed when the head accelerates about the neck (angular acceleration) and from impact (translational forces).

Rotational acceleration results from any action that moves the head from side to side or front to back. Impact plus rotation increases the applied force substantially. Primary injuries are typically focal or diffuse. Significant forces are required to cause severe inflicted injuries.

Secondary mechanisms involve the brain’s reaction to primary injuries. They include hypoperfusion of brain tissue (from hypotension/shock) and hypoxia.” –Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, “Inflicted Head Injuries in Infants and Children: An Important Cause of Developmental Disabilities” by Elizabeth Gilles, M.D.


“Physical abuse includes beating, shaking, scalding, and biting. Given that corporal punishment is widely accepted in the United States, what is the threshold for considering spanking or hitting as being abusive?

One approach is to consider any injury beyond immediate redness of the skin as abuse. Any punishment that leaves a bruise or imprint beyond the initial redness should be considered excessive and abusive.

If parents spank a child, then the spanking should be limited to the buttocks, should occur over clothing, and should never involve the head and neck.

When parents use objects other than a hand, the potential for serious harm increases. Acts of serious violence (eg, throwing a rock at a child, slapping an infant’s face) should also be seen as abusive even if no injury ensues; significant risk of harm exists.”…………

“Of all inflicted injuries, those to the central nervous system (CNS) result in the most significant morbidity and mortality.[43]

Injuries resulting from direct impact, asphyxia, or shaking (shaken baby syndrome) are referred to as abusive head trauma (AHT).

Direct trauma may be the result of punching, slapping, or the child’s head being struck against a hard surface.

Many instances of AHT appear to result from a combination of shaking and direct trauma.

Subdural hematomas, retinal hemorrhages (especially when extensive and involving multiple layers), and diffuse axonal injury, although not exclusively the result of AHT, are critically important markers and should always raise the question of AHT.”

……”Blunt trauma to the ear may produce subperichondrial hematoma and intracranial injury resulting from rotational acceleration of the head.

A slap to the face or choking may leave a hand imprint. A slap to the face not only can cause injuries; it also has a strong associated psychological component.

Long-term dental neglect may result in multiple dental caries, eating difficulties, chronic pain, and periodontal infection.” —Pediatric Care Online: Child Physical Abuse and Neglect


Excessive physical discipline is harmful and dangerous to children. Small children can be killed by relatively minor acts of physical violence (for example, shaking, dropping, or throwing the child against hard surfaces).

Any severe beating with an object, forceful shaking, submersion in hot water, intentional burning, and other forms of intentional infliction of pain are inappropriate and criminal behaviors. —Physical Abuse, Child Neglect, and Emotional Neglect

Interesting how we’re not supposed to slap our spouse or elderly patient on the face or head, which is abuse, but some people think it’s okay to do to children.

“Injury to the head and neck is common. Slap marks on cheeks and neck extending to the scalp and linear marks of hands or fingers are seen. A slap would cause parallel linear bruises on the cheeks.”  —Managing Child Abuse: A Handbook for Medical Officers (WHO)


“Physical abuse – The use of unreasonable force against a child. What is considered reasonable will depend on the age of the child, the severity of the actions and its lack of healthy corrective purpose regarding the child’s behaviour.

This might include, for example, hitting, slapping, shaking, choking, kicking or burning a child. It also includes any conduct by a caregiver that might put the child’s life, health or well-being at risk.” –page 4, Child Abuse: Recognize It, Report It, Prevent It!

Smacking a child at the back or head is never allowed. This is dangerous and puts the child in a very vulnerable position, in which is can’t defend itself in any way.

It is never meant as a normal punishment, but always a sign of bad behavior of the parent. And I think you can qualify this as child abuse. Even if it’s not meant that way it’s still abuse.

If it happens once you can apologize to your child, but if it happens more you should get help immediately. And if it happens all the time the child should get help immediately. —To smack or not smack a child

Examples of Physical Abuse include:

Beating with a belt, shoe, or other object; Biting a child; Breaking a child’s arm, leg, or other bones; Burning a child with matches or cigarettes; Hitting a child; Kicking a child; Not letting a child eat, drink, or use the bathroom; Pulling a child’s hair out; Punching a child; Scalding a child with water that is too hot; Shaking, shoving, or slapping a child.  —Child Abuse: An Overview

#56 Recognizing Physical Abuse
* If you cause injury to your child, you are breaking the law
o Never use any object to hit a child (boards, belts, sticks, or switches)
o Never hit or slap a child’s face or head
o NEVER hit or shake a baby
+ Babies can be blinded, brain damaged, or killed by shaking  —Child Abuse Awareness from Fairfax County Police – Presentation Transcript


 Physical abuse can cause direct damage to a baby’s or child’s developing brain. For instance, we now have extensive evidence of the damage that shaking a baby can cause.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (2009), shaking can destroy brain tissue and tear blood vessels. In the short-term, shaking can lead to seizures, loss of consciousness, or even death.

In the long-term, shaking can damage the fragile brain so that a child develops a range of sensory impairments, as well as cognitive, learning, and behavioral disabilities. —Understanding the Effects of Maltreatment on Brain Development


Shaken baby syndrome (also called intentional head injury or abusive head trauma) is brain damage that occurs when a baby is shaken, slammed, or thrown against an object. It is a form of child abuse that occurs when the baby’s caregiver loses control.

Shaking a baby or striking a baby’s head is always dangerous. Babies’ heads are large in relation to their bodies, and their neck muscles are not well developed.

If a baby is forcefully shaken, slammed, or thrown, his or her head will jerk back and forth uncontrollably. The child’s skull can hit the brain with force. When the inside of the skull forcefully strikes the brain, it can cause:

  • Bruising, swelling, or tearing of the brain tissue. Brain injury and bleeding can cause increased pressure in the brain, which can lead to serious, permanent brain damage.
  • Damage to the blood vessels at the back of the eye, which may cause bleeding inside the eye (retinal hemorrhage), vision problems, or blindness.
  • Death. — Healthwise Staff, Shaken Baby Syndrome (Intentional Head Injury), reviewed by John Pope, MD – Pediatrics & Chuck Norlin, MD – Pediatrics


A man on his deathbed has admitted that he was responsible for the death of his toddler nearly 40 years ago.

Columbus Police officials say 18-month-old Bradley Cuturia died at the Medical Center in July of 1971 but it was never reported to police. The child had been abused before unbeknownst to police and had been treated several times before at Martin Army Hospital on Fort Benning.

….In the early part of 2009, the child’s mother, Cheryl Cuturia, contacted the Columbus Police Department saying she was concerned her child had been killed by his father, Thomas Cuturia. Hillhouse says the couple had moved to Wisconsin after their son’s death and have been separated “for quite some years.”

…Hillhouse tells WTVM the baby was struck at least once in the head, maybe more, and died from his injuries two days after he was admitted to the Medical Center. Police say originally, it was reported that Bradley fell down one step. –Lindsey Connell, Dying father admits to killing toddler son


Half a year ago, a father and his girlfriend were charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect on 3-year-old John Taylor Baxley….The toddler died in August, but prosecutors waited for medical reports before charging Justin Garwacki, 26, and Kara O’Connell, 21, with the death….

Garwacki said he hit his son with a “cupped” hand on the head, face, stomach, legs and genital area, a detective wrote in an affidavit. He also poured water over the boy’s head in the bathtub to teach him how to hold his breath, and when John didn’t do it properly, Garwacki told investigators he struck the boy on the head. The boy fell and hit his head on the tub.

The couple filled a sock with uncooked rice and heated it in the microwave, the affidavit says. They put it on the bruise, but that burned the boy’s forehead. The gaping wound went untreated.

O’Connell admitted to detectives she hit the boy hard enough to cause bruising and picked him up off the floor by his throat, the affidavit says. She said she did it because he didn’t listen to her, and that she knew hitting the boy was “excessive and wrong.” –Alexandra Zayas, Citrus Park couple indicted in death of 3-year-old boy


The aunt of a murdered 3-year-old says the little girl’s death could have been avoided.  Petra Jimenez’s 3-year old niece, Melody Velasquez, was killed by a massive blow to the head in January. The girl’s two adoptive fathers have been arrested and charged in her murder. —3-year-old killed by massive blow to the head


And of course the parents who scream and and hit their child in public. I’m not talking about spanking, because spanking is a controlled swat or two on the bottom, and should not be done out of anger.

But I’m talking about the parents who grab their kid in a fit of anger and just start smacking the crap out of them while yelling and screaming.

I’m not a violent person, but gosh, I’d love to punch those parents in the face. How low do you have to be to take your anger out on and bully a small child? —What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen a parent do?


A man was arrested today on charges he fatally beat his 2-year-old stepson, who had almost 30 injuries to his head, face and upper back, police said.

Investigators believe Deondray Ashe was beaten twice with a belt Sunday evening. They say an adult witness was present when the boy, who had special medical needs, was beaten. —Stepdad beat 2-year-old to death with belt, police say


The Lakeland boy, known to his family as Dooley, was born about three months premature. A variety of medical problems kept him in a hospital and a health-care facility for most of his young life.

Potty training at home was proving to be tough. Sometimes he would play with the roll of toilet paper and touch the water in the bowl.

His mother and stepfather told Lakeland police detectives that the price he paid for such behavior was sitting for hours on the toilet and enduring beatings with a belt, according to recently released transcripts and investigative reports. —Transcripts graphically depict death of toddler


The boyfriend of a woman charged in the death of her 16-month-old son now is accused of the same crime. A Dorchester County grand jury on Thursday issued a direct indictment charging John D. Weaver II, 20, of Summerville with homicide by child abuse in Rowan Bracci’s death.

The same charge already had been filed against the child’s mother, 19-year-old Amber Lynn Bracci.

Autopsy findings released by County Coroner Chris Nisbet confirmed that the boy died of a closed-head injury at the hands of another person or persons.

He had bruising of the scalp, hemorrhaging and brain swelling, Nisbet said.

Deputies arrested Bracci on Jan. 14.

In the arrest warrant, she is said to have told deputies she had hit her son in the head within days before he was rushed to a hospital. The warrant also said she admitted smoking marijuana two times between the time she noticed her son was having medical problems and the time she got him help. —2 indicted in toddler’s death


A Whitehall toddler dies from brain damage consistent with abusive head trauma, and detectives are taking the case to the Grand Jury for a murder indictment.

Jose Trevino, 39, of 4186 Doney St. was arrested and charged with felonious assault after a 3-year-old girl’s death last Friday.

Acasia Chavis, 3, suffered significant brain damage that was consistent with abusive head trauma while in Trevino’s care, according to Whitehall police. –Donna Willis, Abusive head trauma kills Whitehall toddler, police say


My friend recently struck her 3 year old on the side of the head by his ear after he bit her 1.5 year old while we were driving out of town. It was a pretty hard hit, but open handed, and he did cry.

I was shocked, and I told her that many people would report her for child abuse. She told me what she does with her own children is none of my business, and when I insisted, she pulled over to the side of the road and kicked me out, leaving me stranded in a strange city and waiting 2 hours for someone to show up to get me.

What would your reaction have been? Do you think that’s child abuse? Would you as a parent have reacted the same way to my remark?

Her 3 year old is definitely wrong to bit the 1.5 year old. But there is other ways and more effective ways to punish the 3 year old. She could have cause the 3 year old brain concussion or burst the ear drum.  —Is slapping a 3-year-old in the head child abuse?

Is slapping a child hard in the face abuse?

Is slapping child abuse?

UK forum thread on the horrors and dangers of someone smacking a 3-year-old on the head


Also see Don’t smack your kids: Research into teenage football concussions Child Abuse, Examples of Child Abuse, …Because slapping kids on the head is ABUSE!  STOP THE VIOLENCE! and Slapping Kids Upside the Head Causes Traumatic Brain Injury.