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A child was hurt today and it is my fault.


Heather in Neverland
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I feel sad and nauseous right now. It happened like this:

 

Boy A and boy B were playing soccer at recess. They got into an argument. Boy A called boy B a "stupid idiot" and told him couldn't play any more. Boy B left the playground crying and told his teacher. The teacher reported it to me and I called boy A into my office and scolded him for being unkind to his friend. Then I sent him back to class.

 

The next day boy A was mad at boy B because he tattled and boy A was scolded by me. So he deliberately threw a soccer ball at boy B and hit him in the head. Obviously, I can't have this. So I called his mom and told her what happened that day and the day before.

 

Today I got an email from the mom telling me she disciplined her son for his behavior.

 

She explains that this discipline involved her hitting his hand very hard with a bamboo stick TEN times. Those were her exact words.

 

I know his behavior warranted consequences. But hitting him ten times with a bamboo stick? She made it clear that she did it hard. She also acknowledged that I might be offended by her choice of punishment but it is culturally acceptable for them.

 

I can't get his face out of my head. I can't stop wondering how much it hurt, how much he hates me right now.

 

Now I wish I had never called. Sometimes I don't like my job

 

I just needed to get it out. Thanks for reading.

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I feel a little sick just thinking about it. You certainly could not have foreseen the outcome, and you obviously had to address the behavioural issue.

 

The international school dd attended used to periodically offer parenting classes in the evenings, and I wonder now if that wasn't motivated by a desire to shift parents towards a common understanding of acceptable discipline strategies. And I do realise that the term 'acceptable' is a loaded one...

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Hmmmm....

 

I guess my first thought is that it is a cultural difference and it is likely that the boy doesn't hate you any more than had she put him in the corner for 10 minutes. He wouldn't think of it considerably differently, I would guess. For example, there has been studies to show that kids from certain cultures don't see "whippings" by parents as bad as kids from other cultures would see two swats with a hand on a clothed bottom. The SIX year olds think differently about it!

 

I'm not sure that helps how YOU feel about it though. It is often hard to accept another person's ideas based

on their culture when we think there are rights and wrongs about such things, that our own culture is right.

 

Okay, but a couple other thoughts.

 

I find it *very* interesting you were involved AT ALL. That so would not happen at my neighborhood school! The teacher would have just dealt with it (likely simply fussing at him, possibly taking some of his recess time that day or the next). If it happened THREE times in one day, the principal still probably wouldn't be involved! That is the case on EITHER incident also. Now, I, as a parent, probably wouldn't even know that the one incident happened. If it happened three times, I certainly would just because the color change on the child's behavior sheet would indicate an issue that happened more than once. No doubt some parents punish for that. Honestly, *I* have punished kids for coming home with color changes for certain behaviors (note: my boys would have negative feedback more days than not, most of which I ignored or disciplined without punishment). The second day's issues ALSO would likely not include anyone other than the teacher and POSSIBLY letting the parent know. It was a new day and kids start over each day so it is questionable whether that would have gotten more than the standard discipline since it was related to the day before. If it did, we're still talking a color change and loss of part/all of recess. Of course, how likely would it be to have happened had the offending child been walking laps rather than playing at recess anyway?

 

I just think the teacher is asking you to undermine an awful lot of her own authority by having you handle such an issue. It seems you'd have better things to do than fuss at kids for calling people names or minor childish violence also, possibly semi-common things<?>.

 

I'm just thinking even Little House on the Prairie shows a LOT of playground rudeness, even physical scuffles!

 

Just another thought.

 

BTW, I want it known that I'm not defending the mother's choice of discipline or think it is appropriate just because it is culturally acceptable. But I'd probably try to think of the above to counteract my own disgust and feeling of culpability and so I could face the child. Hopefully, in the future, y'all can simply handle things at school. At the same time, I guess a spin-off discussion is the fact that y'all hard line such things (go to the principal for the original offense; call parent for second) may mean y'all have fewer incidents of these behaviors where schools in the states consider these pretty darn minor and I would guess happen several times a day in a typical neighborhood school (not every class or even grade level, mind you, but....).

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Is this like hitting an open palm with a wooden ruler, perhaps? If so, that would not hurt much and would not be terribly out of line. I don't think a parent would have beaten the back of a child's hand with anything heavy--she could have broken bones in his hand.

 

I remember kids in my elementary school getting the ruler treatment a couple of times, and they would not even cry.

 

Terri

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Is this like hitting an open palm with a wooden ruler, perhaps? If so, that would not hurt much and would not be terribly out of line. I don't think a parent would have beaten the back of a child's hand with anything heavy--she could have broken bones in his hand.

 

I remember kids in my elementary school getting the ruler treatment a couple of times, and they would not even cry.

 

Terri

 

I hope this true. I have never felt a a ruler or wooden spoon smacked hard against my hand ... Especially not ten times. I hope it wasn't as painful as my mind imagines it. :(

 

 

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I find it *very* interesting you were involved AT ALL. That so would not happen at my neighborhood school! The teacher would have just dealt with it (likely simply fussing at him, possibly taking some of his recess time that day or the next). If it happened THREE times in one day, the principal still probably wouldn't be involved! That is the case on EITHER incident also. Now, I, as a parent, probably wouldn't even know that the one incident happened. If it happened three times, I certainly would just because the color change on the child's behavior sheet would indicate an issue that happened more than once. No doubt some parents punish for that. Honestly, *I* have punished kids for coming home with color changes for certain behaviors (note: my boys would have negative feedback more days than not, most of which I ignored or disciplined without punishment). The second day's issues ALSO would likely not include anyone other than the teacher and POSSIBLY letting the parent know. It was a new day and kids start over each day so it is questionable whether that would have gotten more than the standard discipline since it was related to the day before. If it did, we're still talking a color change and loss of part/all of recess. Of course, how likely would it be to have happened had the offending child been walking laps rather than playing at recess anyway?

 

I just think the teacher is asking you to undermine an awful lot of her own authority by having you handle such an issue. It seems you'd have better things to do than fuss at kids for calling people names or minor childish violence also, possibly semi-common things<?>.

 

I'm just thinking even Little House on the Prairie shows a LOT of playground rudeness, even physical scuffles!

 

Just another thought.

 

BTW, I want it known that I'm not defending the mother's choice of discipline or think it is appropriate just because it is culturally acceptable. But I'd probably try to think of the above to counteract my own disgust and feeling of culpability and so I could face the child. Hopefully, in the future, y'all can simply handle things at school. At the same time, I guess a spin-off discussion is the fact that y'all hard line such things (go to the principal for the original offense; call parent for second) may mean y'all have fewer incidents of these behaviors where schools in the states consider these pretty darn minor and I would guess happen several times a day in a typical neighborhood school (not every class or even grade level, mind you, but....).

 

You are right. We have very high standards for behavior and almost no behavior issues including playground scuffles. The children here are taught that their behavior must be glorifying to God at all times. If they are DELIBERATELY unkind in word or deed they are sent straight to me. I honestly see about one kid a month, maybe, usually less than that. All the child ever gets (and really, all they ever need) from me is a stern talking-to and it is over. I have never had the same child in my office twice.

 

That's why this incident stood out so much. It is highly unusual here. This is such a warm, safe, happy place.

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I hope this true. I have never felt a a ruler or wooden spoon smacked hard against my hand ... Especially not ten times. I hope it wasn't as painful as my mind imagines it. :(

 

Stretch your hand back with your fingers on a table, and smack the open palm with a ruler. You will barely even feel it. Bamboo is more flexible than a wooden spoon also. I am not advocating for this as a method of discipline (nor objecting to it, for that matter--that is not the point), but what I imagine hardly amounts to abuse, humiliation or something to lose sleep over.

 

Terri

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You cannot predict someone else's behavior - especially when that behavior goes against all that is considered normal and proper within our own perceived notion of what is normal and basic human decency - there is no way you could have seen it coming. I am so sorry that you are having to go through this. :grouphug:

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There is no way you could have known. Maybe, as others have indicated, it really isn't as painful a punishment as you are imagining it to be, and the boy himself doesn't think of it as any big deal. Maybe, it has given you a glimpse into the boy's life, and you know to keep an eye on his welfare. I would not lose sleep over it, you made the best decision you could given the circumstances. In schools here, teachers let parents know all the time if there is a problem at school, even a little one.

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The mom was deeply disappointed and embarrassed that her child needed to be hauled into the principal's office. Honestly, I would have felt the same. She told you about the punishment because she assumes you want to know she took the incident seriously and did her part to make sure it doesn't happen again. I would also note that it sounds like she was very controlled about how she punished, as opposed to angrily beating the ___ out of him like the parent another commenter had to deal with. This child will be OK.

 

And honestly, a boy who would hit another child in the head over being called out on his own actions? Maybe he needs a reminder that being hit hurts. Maybe the boy who was called stupid and hit in the head, for no good reason, will endure less pain over time.

 

I know many will disagree, but I feel that for some kids, a spanking here and there leads to less pain, stress, and sadness in the long run. This is especially true in cultures where spanking is the go-to punishment and parents don't have a lot of other tools for the "big stuff."

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Not your fault either. Someone who is going to beat a child like that will find a reason. Any reason.

 

I agree. That story is heartbreaking.

 

The mom was deeply disappointed and embarrassed that her child needed to be hauled into the principal's office. Honestly, I would have felt the same. She told you about the punishment because she assumes you want to know she took the incident seriously and did her part to make sure it doesn't happen again. I would also note that it sounds like she was very controlled about how she punished, as opposed to angrily beating the ___ out of him like the parent another commenter had to deal with. This child will be OK.

 

And honestly, a boy who would hit another child in the head over being called out on his own actions? Maybe he needs a reminder that being hit hurts. Maybe the boy who was called stupid and hit in the head, for no good reason, will endure less pain over time.

 

I know many will disagree, but I feel that for some kids, a spanking here and there leads to less pain, stress, and sadness in the long run. This is especially true in cultures where spanking is the go-to punishment and parents don't have a lot of other tools for the "big stuff."

 

I don't know that we can assume your first paragraph. It could be true but it could also be a skewed view of what happened when violence is normalized. As far as reminding the offending child that hitting hurts, I'm not sure that it isn't something he isn't already very familiar with. Hurt people hurt people.

 

I come from a culture where spanking is the go-to punishment. I think your description of it is romanticized at best. Maybe the pain, stress, & sadness just isn't as obvious.

 

I feel sorry for the kid who got hit in the head with the soccer ball.

 

He probably has an even bigger target on him now and the boy who hit him will just be more stealthy in his attacks.

I do, too. Unfortunately, I agree with the bold because although something was done about it, it wasn't anything of value - it was the complete opposite.

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What I find interesting is that the mother felt the need to defend her actions.

 

I didn't read it that way. I read it as "I agree that my son's actions were unacceptable and I'm doing something about it at my end. I'm doing the thing I consider most likely to deter repeat behavior." (Possibly also: please give us another chance, don't kick my kid out of school.)

 

I get occasional notes from my dd's teacher and I can't but assume she wants me to do "something" about it. She doesn't want to see that behavior repeated. A talking-to isn't going to have that result for all kids. Obviously with this kid, a talking-to just makes him more angry and mean.

 

We are all informed by our personal experience. I know some of you have personal experiences that involve ineffective spankings that led to more problems. Others (including me) have experienced and observed effective spankings that led to improvement in behavior and attitude/self-esteem. The majority of Americans and the majority of humans are spankers. Let's not assume every child who gets spanked is doomed.

 

To be honest, when I first read the OP, I thought the OP'r was upset about the soccer ball to the head. That was the result of her attempt at disciplining the bully through words. I have to say that I have less compassion for a boy being "caned" for violence than I feel for the boy he hurt.

 

Hopefully both boys will have a better time in school going forward.

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I'm going by this:

 

 

 

Why bother saying that if you feel 100% justified?

 

Perhaps because she did not want to have a back-and-forth discussion about it.

 

The OP teaches in a place where cultures differ radically and the parent surely knows this.

 

When I have reason to talk about my kids' discipline, I sometimes say "I know some people are against spanking, but I believe it is appropriate at times for MY kids." This is a way to head off any discussion about the pros and cons of it, which will be a waste of time and emotional energy on both sides.

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Really? Where did you read this?

 

I don't remember, but someone posted a statistic not long ago, and as I recall it was a pretty high percentage of Americans who spank. Way above 50%, but I can't remember whether it was in the 90s or a little less.

 

I could see it being surprising after all the online talk we see about how barbaric it is, but the fact is, most of us make the choice to spank at some time or other.

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Maybe. But if it's just something one does, why explain it?

 

I didn't see that as an "explanation." An "explanation" would be why I think this works better than options A, B, and C. I saw it as a conversation ender, so to speak.

 

Why do I sometimes feel the need to say it? Well, probably because I've seen too many online discussions where people obviously think it's up to them to weigh in on my choice, and even shed tears or propose legislation against me.

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It is interesting, though, to consider what times it's best to call parents versus come up with some in-school punishment. For my school-aged kids, my preferred punishment is to give the kids some work to do. Perhaps during the next recess he could scrub windows or something. Or scrub down the desk or locker of the child he hurt, or do something for his class as a whole.

 

As a parent of a school kid, I often feel powerless to control what goes on at school. I know my kids are going to make mistakes - they are human, immature, and highly imperfect. I can talk all day about what they should and should not do, but at the moment when temptation arises, it's going to be their choice. If the school would make more of an effort to address issues then and there, it would be a win-win IMO.

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That's why this incident stood out so much. It is highly unusual here. This is such a warm, safe, happy place.

 

Maybe it is a rare incident because parents handle things at home and kids know it.

Again, not saying that discipline needs to be physical punishment, or even punishment.

However, I do *believe in* discipline and believe there is an issue with kids not receiving appropriate discipline

both all along as well as when situations happen. When kids know things will be handled

they are more likely to consider their options more carefully in the moment (though no kid would be perfect, of course).

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I don't remember, but someone posted a statistic not long ago, and as I recall it was a pretty high percentage of Americans who spank. Way above 50%, but I can't remember whether it was in the 90s or a little less.

 

I could see it being surprising after all the online talk we see about how barbaric it is, but the fact is, most of us make the choice to spank at some time or other.

 

I've spanked my children before. It has proven effective in the short-term. I know many people who swear (& I believe them) that it works for them long-term.

 

However, this situation isn't even about spanking. It's hitting a school-aged child with a stick for throwing a ball at another child's head. ?? How is that teaching anything?

 

Has anyone bothered to ask this boy why he is targeting the other child? I would think that actual discipline (teaching proper behavior) would require someone actually trying to figure out the problem to address it. That's the parent's job. I realize that many cultures handle these issues differently, I come from one. Just because it appears to work to those looking-in, doesn't mean it does.

 

This doesn't mean I think all children who have been spanked turn-out to have issues because of it. I don't. This case isn't even about spanking.

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Has anyone bothered to ask this boy why he is targeting the other child? I would think that actual discipline (teaching proper behavior) would require someone actually trying to figure out the problem to address it. That's the parent's job.

 

Well, I don't exactly know what that means. The parent was not there to see that trouble was brewing. We also do not know what the parent did other than smack the boy's hand. They might have talked for an hour for all we know. Or the parent might have said "respect for teachers and school rules is paramount over all else, now hold out your hand."

 

When I've received reports of my kid hurting others on the playground (rare FWIW), my first reaction is to ask my kid for her version of the situation. The first time was in the first month of school, she was "the new kid" and way smaller than all of her classmates. She reportedly punched a girl in the stomach and did not give an explanation to the teacher. To me, she said the girl was holding onto her and would not let go of her arms. I had the opportunty to observe them playing a little later, and indeed this girl would grab on and not let go, making my dd feel claustrophobic / threatened. I counseled my kid regarding better ways to deal when other kids get physical. But that was after the fact. And my dd is young enough to tell me when she's afraid etc. An older kid would not be such an open book with his parents, and even if he were, a discussion after the fact would not protect the boy who got slammed with the soccer ball.

 

This topic sort of came up in a video I recently saw in Sunday School about shepherding a child's heart. After a girl had said unkind things to classmates, the principal spoke to her and instead of reprimanding her and sending her back, he brought up a Bible verse to the effect that our speech should be used to lift up others, not put them down. Got her thinking about what she wanted to accomplish and what kind of person she wanted to be. Not sure if that would have helped here or not. I think as adults, we understand that kids lash out at other kids because of their own insecurities. Sending them back with a scolding about how naughty they are probably doesn't appeal to their gentler side. But once a child has hit another in the head, it's too late for the whole "sweetie darling I know you want to be a good boy."

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Well, I don't exactly know what that means. The parent was not there to see that trouble was brewing. We also do not know what the parent did other than smack the boy's hand. They might have talked for an hour for all we know. Or the parent might have said "respect for teachers and school rules is paramount over all else, now hold out your hand."

...

 

This topic sort of came up in a video I recently saw in Sunday School about shepherding a child's heart. After a girl had said unkind things to classmates, the principal spoke to her and instead of reprimanding her and sending her back, he brought up a Bible verse to the effect that our speech should be used to lift up others, not put them down. Got her thinking about what she wanted to accomplish and what kind of person she wanted to be. Not sure if that would have helped here or not. I think as adults, we understand that kids lash out at other kids because of their own insecurities. Sending them back with a scolding about how naughty they are probably doesn't appeal to their gentler side. But once a child has hit another in the head, it's too late for the whole "sweetie darling I know you want to be a good boy."

Hmmm. Well, I don't think the parent could have turned back time to stop her child from hitting the other child in the head, not sure where you're getting that from. I don't know exactly what went down between the parent & the child - I think I'm the one that actually said that. It is my opinion that using violence to discipline a child for violence makes absolutely no sense. I don't think the culture that one comes from makes any difference. I also think that "respect for teachers is paramount over all else" is dangerous and not at all helpful to the situation. I'm having trouble posting on my laptop for some reason...I think it's disingenuous to describe the alternative to violent punishment as "sweetie darling I know you want to be a good boy".

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It is my opinion that using violence to discipline a child for violence makes absolutely no sense. I don't think the culture that one comes from makes any difference. I also think that "respect for teachers is paramount over all else" is dangerous and not at all helpful to the situation.

 

 

These are indeed popular opinions in our culture, but I don't think it's really fair to say that the culture one comes from doesn't make a difference. Other cultures could use that argument to judge American women who won't cover their faces, wrists, and ankles in public.

 

Since this is not my child, I have no idea how he needs to be disciplined. But I don't agree that spanking encourages violence, and I'm sure we'll have to agree to disagree on that.

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These are indeed popular opinions in our culture, but I don't think it's really fair to say that the culture one comes from doesn't make a difference. Other cultures could use that argument to judge American women who won't cover their faces, wrists, and ankles in public.

 

Since this is not my child, I have no idea how he needs to be disciplined. But I don't agree that spanking encourages violence, and I'm sure we'll have to agree to disagree on that.

 

We aren't talking about spanking in this case.

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She explains that this discipline involved her hitting his hand very hard with a bamboo stick TEN times. Those were her exact words. I know his behavior warranted consequences. But hitting him ten times with a bamboo stick? She made it clear that she did it hard. She also acknowledged that I might be offended by her choice of punishment but it is culturally acceptable for them.

 

I haven't read any of the other responses.

 

Heather, :grouphug: . I think you handled Boy A's bullying well. It is your responsibility to not only protect Boy B from being bullied, but to take action when you see a student becoming a bully.

 

This won't be popular to say here, but I think his mother handled it well, too. Boy A now knows that his mother knows what he did and that he brought dishonor/shame to the family. We might recoil from harsh, corporal discipline, but this is the norm in many cultures. The key phrase in the mother's email is that this form of discipline is culturally acceptable for them. In the context of this boy's culture, it has been tested and proven effective. His mother believes it will change him. He will survive it.

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Was Singapore the place where, some years ago, a boy was sentenced to be caned for vandalism? And Americans were horrified by the idea. Personally I was more horrified that American teens were going over there and thinking they could vandalize other people's property and not expect to be punished.

 

The boy was eventually caned, if I recall correctly.

 

Is a caning on the hand a spanking? I guess reasonable minds could differ over that. It's what this parent decided was right for her child. It was 10 smacks on the hand, and I doubt it had any lasting effects other than the memory of what happens when Mom gets a call from the principal.

 

I guess I'm pretty adamant about letting parents decide what is best for their own children. Of course there are exceptions when a parent is way out of control and a child is in danger, but this doesn't sound like that to me.

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I haven't read all the responses.

 

When I was in primary school, the teachers all had a bamboo cane on their desk to cane children on their hands for misbehaviour. Children got caned all the time it was a non-issue. boys who really misbehaved were taken to the principles office to office for the cuts- which were getting strapped on the hand with a leather strip. of course schools here no longer use corporal punishment~ and there has been a direct spiraling of classroom behaviour since.

 

What my point is that many cultures view spanking on the hand as appropriate punishment

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I feel sad and nauseous right now. It happened like this:

 

Boy A and boy B were playing soccer at recess. They got into an argument. Boy A called boy B a "stupid idiot" and told him couldn't play any more. Boy B left the playground crying and told his teacher. The teacher reported it to me and I called boy A into my office and scolded him for being unkind to his friend. Then I sent him back to class.

 

The next day boy A was mad at boy B because he tattled and boy A was scolded by me. So he deliberately threw a soccer ball at boy B and hit him in the head. Obviously, I can't have this. So I called his mom and told her what happened that day and the day before.

 

Today I got an email from the mom telling me she disciplined her son for his behavior.

 

She explains that this discipline involved her hitting his hand very hard with a bamboo stick TEN times. Those were her exact words.

 

I know his behavior warranted consequences. But hitting him ten times with a bamboo stick? She made it clear that she did it hard. She also acknowledged that I might be offended by her choice of punishment but it is culturally acceptable for them.

 

I can't get his face out of my head. I can't stop wondering how much it hurt, how much he hates me right now.

 

Now I wish I had never called. Sometimes I don't like my job

 

I just needed to get it out. Thanks for reading.

 

 

I got a lot bamboo sticks from both my teachers and my Parents growing up. I know you are in Asia and I am a Taiwanese. I know very well growing up that my teachers and parents did that because they care. I know it might be a bit twisted in your mind, and no, I don't hit my kids. But I can tell you that kid is fine. :)

 

 

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It does seem that being hit with a stick would hurt really bad and could even do damage to the hands.

Also, I read a book in which a woman recounted a friend's hands being severely hurt by such a thing.

The very thought is stomach turning to me.

 

But Heather, you couldn't have known....and it isn't your fault.

You simply were disciplining a child who needed it.

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