A mother slaps
her child

Une mère
gifle son enfant

Barbaric... but it is her business
Don't do anything about it.
Feel horrible for the child but do nothing.
Good for her, if the child needed it, else not. But none
of my business.
How mean!
I am very annoyed, but i don't say anything.
I don't do anything.
I mind my own business
I pretend that I haven't seen anything.
i run over to help her give the child a spanking.
I would be stunned and upset with the mother
I would feel instinctively upset to the point of tears. I
wouldn't say anything because I would feel afraid of the mother,
but it would affect me in a significant way - more than it would
most people.
I would look the other way.
I would think the mother is a terrible mother.
I would wince silently
I wouldn't do anything
if the child deserved it, i would approve, but if the child
didn't deserve it, i would get angry
ignore her
Ignore it, it is not my business.
is the slap part of a consistent and conscientiously applied
program of parental discipline?
It would bother me. Parents shouldn't hit their children.
My heart would jump, but I wouldn't have the right to say
None of my business. Most children need parents to be strict
and nurturing.
not much, I would look with dissaproval but not interfere.
She is a bad mother.
She's a bad parent.
slap the mother
Smile at the child and give the mother a stern look.
watch her closely to see what's happening

C'est mal, c'est moche mais je ne me vois pas intervenir
c'est son problème
Ce n'a jamais été un mal. Je repenserait certainement
a mes propres parents sur l'instant.Aucune réaction.
ce ne sont pas mes affaires
eh bé
Elle a probablement une bonne raison de le faire ( ça
peut arriver). Tant qu'elle ne lui fait pas très mal,
je ne fait rien.
et alors? (tant qu'elle le tabasse pas),j'aime pas les giffles
ça me fait mal au coeur
il a sûrement fait une bêtise mais je n'aime
pas qu'on frappe les enfants
Il l'a surement mérité
j'en ai pris au moins 100 ça remet les idées
en place
J'essaye d'analyser (` vue) la situation pour savoir si l'enfant
l'avait mérité
je la laisse faire, il l'a certainement bien méritée
sa gifle
je me dis que c'est une grosse conne, que c'est un aveu d'echec
de sa part, mais aussi que je n'ai pas le droit de juger parce
que je n'ai pas d'enfants et que je ne sais quel père
je serais.
Je me marre, mais je pense qu'elle à surement une
bonne raison pour gifler son mome.
Je n'agis pas pour ne pas me mjler. Il se peut que la mère
ait tout à fait raison tout comme le contraire.
je n'ai pas à intervenir
je ne peux pas juger puisque je n'en connaît pas la
je ne réagis pas
Je passe comme si de rien n'etait.
je pense qu'elle a sûrement une raison de l'avoir fait,
je l'observe pour vérifier que c'est bien le cas
je penserais au pauvre gosse et si c'est trop violent, j'intervient
je penserais qu'elle est dure avec lui
je penserais qu'il a mis sa mère à bout de
Je peux comprendre que ce type de geste soit utile dans certains
Je trace ma route et me dis que je n'aimerais pas être
à la place du gamin.
s'il était entrain de se sauver c'est normal
ça me choque. Soit je ne regarde pas (ce ne sont pas
mes affaires), soit je regarde (pour qu'elle comprenne que ce
n'est pas l'endroit idéal)


Morals!!!that's all you've got!you're all disgusted by the mother's attitude but none of you interferes (are you puritan cowards?) Actually we don't react the same way,cuz it doesn't seem so intolerable to us... Maybe another way to see education (but don't worry,violence isn't a recognized way to educate a child,neither in France nor in the USA) Thus there comes a difference between us...do you think it matters? Reply soon!

Au vu des differentes réponses, on peut constater aisement que nous n'avons pas du tout la même conception de l'éducation : En France l'éducation est plus rigoriste et les parents plus strictes avec leurs enfants(ce qui ne va pas jusqu'à les frapper à coups de batte de baseball!!).Plus serieusement, ceci ne me choque pas de voir un enfant recevoir une claque de la part de sa mère (même s'il faut éviter de le faire en public): l'enfant doit bien apprendre un jour ou l'autre à faire la différence entre ce qui est bien et ce qui est mal.De plus, le simple échange de parole convainc rarement un enfant..

Je suis d'accord avec Arnaud : une petite claque de temps en temps ça ne fait pas de mal !!

En revanche, le fait de le faire en public peut, à mon avis, être assez traumatisant pour l'enfant : le regard des autres est très important à cet Ĺge.

Je suis tout à fait d'accord avec Armelle: prendre une gifle en public peut se révéler assez traumatisant pour un enfant. Mieux vaut régler les problèmes tranquillement chez soi. Cependant, je pense que donner une gifle à un enfant ne doit pas devenir une habitude. Cela doit rester le dernier recours en cas de problèmes.

Que dire sinon qu'une claque n'a jamais fait de mal à personne

Les français sont tous d'accord


Hello there, I guess the reactions differ mainly because in the US there seems to be a very thin line between instilling discipline physically/child-abuse. Striking a child is generlly frowned upon it reflects poorly on the parent. You're likely to sympathize with the child (as was the case in many of the MIT responses). I agree with Arnaud: we have different views on education/discipline. I'm not sure that the French parents are necessarily stricter per se. The acceptable approach to discipline is different but the end result may be the same....hmmmm, but maybe not.

I grew up in a country (Guyana) where you were disciplined with spankings. This was even at school and if you were really bad it was done on the stage during assembly when the entire school was there (not a personal experience:-) ). True, that would be pretty traumatizing but I guess it worked. It's interesting becasue public spanking were acceptable...it just meant you did something really really bad. That is a bit extreme but I agree with Arnaud, Armelle and Clara that a little spanking (minimal, non-harmful, as a last resort, and never in public) could actually be beneficial to the child's development/well-being.

Hello again, I have to ask this question but it's a bit "touchy". Is there at all the perception that there is a relationship between lack of discipline/high juvenile crime rates in the US?(from the French perspective) I know that this is something that my mother (non-American) seems to think. What is the juvenile crime rate like in France? Is it at all anywhere near the scale of the US?

Jeri-Ann is completely right in that nowadays in America, any sense of physical punishment can be interpreted as abuse. Perhaps it is a byproduct of being one of the most litigious societies or being a society of do-gooders, in which privacy is infinitely hard to attain ... in any case, when you see a parent hitting a child, you see a reaction, not the cause and based solely on that, most americans will be quicker to judge poorly the parent.

noticed that one french response was "pour qu'elle comprenne que ce n'est pas l'endroit ideal". does that imply that spanking is bad because it was done publicly (as opposed to just spanking itself)?

Hello again, I have a question that is not not specific to this forum. Can you give me an idea of the composition of INT students(in particular this class) in terms of country of origin? Are you mainly French students or are there any international students? MIT has a large international contingent(as does this class) so that although we may live in the U.S. our values etc may not necessarily be a reflection of the American culture...but maybe we're sufficiently influenced by just living here.

Jeri'Ann, je ne pense pas qu'on puisse faire un rapprochement entre le manque de discipline pendant la petite enfance et le taux de criminalité (en France en tout cas). Je pense que c'est plutôt le contraire : ce sont souvent des enfants maltraätés par leurs parents qui deviennent des délinquants pour s'affirmer. Par exemple dans le cas des crimes sexuels, lorsque l'on fouille dans le passé des assassins, on remarque souvent qu'eux-mêmes ont subi des violences dans leur enfance. Je ne sais pas quelle est la situation aux Etats-Unis... Pourrais-tu m'éclairer ?

It's interesting that a public spanking in France isn't necessarily seen as a bad thing. I think the United States has changed dramatically from when our parents were growing up. Several decades ago, no one would think twice about giving their child a slap or a spanking. Teachers in school would even hit you with a ruler sometimes. However, the American society that we are growing up in is much different. People are much quicker to bring lawsuits against other people, and everyone is looking to do the "politically correct" thing. For this reason, public displays of discipline such as slapping or spanking are looked poorly on. I happen to agree with the more old-school train of thought, that children should be given a good spanking once in a while. How many of us wouldn't love to run over and spank a screaming child in the supermarket?

To Armelle: You asked if bad treatment of children by their parents leads to certain types of crime in the U.S. I'm not an expert on the subject, but I think that for the most part the answer is yes. A lot of our worst criminals had bad childhoods, and some of that I'm sure is partly due to bad parenting. It's interesting to see that similar problems such as crime have the same roots, even across cultures.

And now, my question for the french students: How far are school teachers allowed to go as far as discipline is concerned? In the U.S., a teacher is not even allowed to touch a student (in the form of a slap or something) and so there's not much a teacher can do to stop a student who is misbehaving. I'm curious as to what the laws are in France.

Hello Armelle, Looks like we're interested in lots of the same forums:) I think that discipling to the point that it becomes harmful is definitely detrimental to the development of a child...and along the lines of what Timothy said probably has a lot to do with a turn to criminal behavior. I know that in the US small criminality is strongly linked to absentee parents so I'm sure that's a factor.

Personally, I don't know what the big deal is. I love being spanked.

To answer Armelle, I agree that growing up around violence leads one to become less immune to it. But at least they don't get their lunch money taken from them.

I was very interested to see in the results of the survey that a public spanking of a child was more acceptable in France. The responses in this forum show the same thing.

I would say that it is VERY rare these days to see someone give a public spanking in the USA. I don't believe that it is right to spank a child, but when I think back on my younger days, I remember being chased by my mother with a wooden spoon. Also, I remember kids getting paddled at school by the vice-principal (Cincinnati in the mid-80's). It probably does make children more disciplined (out of fear), but I think it teaches them the wrong message, that you should solve problems with physical force. This probably leads these children to violent acts in the future, as Armelle and Tim suggested.

I think the worry is that if someone is hitting their child in public, then what are they doing in private?

A question: It seems to me that there is a general problem these days with the violent behavior of kids. For example, the Columbine high school shooting. Maybe it's because they aren't getting spanked by their parents anymore, but personally I blame the violent movies and TV that they are watching as young children. Exposure of children to violence in entertainment is a current hot topic (in politics, etc.) here. Is it the same in France?

I believe that spanking comes in handy when parents are trying to raise their children. A slap in the face can at times be good too. But I'm afraid that some parents use hitting/slapping/spanking as the easy way out in correcting their children. At times a child will better understand what they are doing wrong if the parent sits down and talks to them. Another thing is that some parents just slap their children, but never explain to their kids what they did wrong and what they can do to fix their mistakes.

Child abuse is a not a huge problem in the States, but it is a concern. Is it a problem/concern in France? If it is, how do you punish the parents? And if not, what do you do as a society to prevent it from happening?

I could not believe the indifference of many of the French students in their reactions. There is a clear difference between our cultures when it comes to slapping a child. I know that I could never ever hit my child. I was never hit by my parents. I think there are other ways of disciplining a child without using physical force.

Are there cases of child abuse in France? Is the law more lenient in France in reqards to child abuse? In the US, there are strict laws against child abuse and parents are frequently prosecuted for abuse.

Pour répondre à Timothy, les enseignants français n'ont absolument pas le droit d'exercer une quelconque violence physique envers un de leurs élèves.La loi le punit.Cela n'empêche pas bien-sûr qu'il y ait toujour des partisans de la méthode "forte" mais c'est une situation qui est assez rare et que l'on trouve par exemple dans certaines écoles catholiques restées très traditionnelles (ce doit probablement être également le cas aux Etats-Unis).

Réponse à Kelly. Moi non plus, je n'ai jamais été frappé par mes parents et je ne crois pas que je pourrais un jour frapper mes enfants. Et je ne crois pas être la seule exception dans ce pays ! Les lois sont très strictes dans tous les pays d'Europe en ce qui concerne la violence envers les mineurs, mais donner une claque à son enfant n'est pas considéré comme une "violence".

Parents should never hurt their children by physical force, this behavior is inexcusable. At the same time though, parents MUST discipline their children; they will be doing their kids a favor.

See, I think that every child is different, so the mistake that a lot of people make is they try to discipline them the same way. You have to figure out what works and what doesn't work for a child, and sometimes just pleading or reprimanding doesn't do it. I'm more against physical abuse than not, so that if I see that happen in public, I would feel bad for the kid (yes these matters should be kept within the house if at all), but spanking/slapping is definitely more mild than is the abuse which laws are created for.

It is really apparent, though, that Americans are taking the written laws too far here because kids do go to court to sue their parents for a slap. Meanwhile, there are kids that are seriously being abused but whom the system has not been able to help, so that is a definite problem.

Would this ever happen in France? That a child could sue his parents?

Over the past few decades, schools in the US have been asked to assume much more responsibility then they were originally intended to have. Young students are often encouraged to report on behavior in the home that makes them uncomfortable. This creates a situation in which parents cannot enact the disciplinary program they might wish for fear of reprisal, mainly uninformed and undeserved reprisal brought about by "amateur psychologizing" that often takes place in our nation's elementary and secondary schools. Thus, it has become routine to restrict one's behavior to the set of behaviors that, if reported or viewed by others, will not get one in trouble. I think this is a sad situation.

So I ask - what do people think the responsibilities of a school should be? To educate certainly, but in what subjects? Some studies have shown that american children spend only 41% of their day studying "core" academic material (science, math, history, etc.) and the rest engaging in programs or courses of study on personal safety, self-esteem, family life, consumer training, driver's ed, etc. Thus in a typical academic year, american students will have spent less than 1500 hours on basic subjects, while in france students spend over 3000 hours a year on these same subjects.

In response to arnaud, don't you think there is a way to educate a child other that hitting him? Certainly there must be.

Also, why do you assume that in France education is more rigorous than in the United States? If that is true, than why do so many people want to come study here?

To michel:

The fact that you tolerate a mother slapping her child doesn't make your response to the situation more appropriate than mine. In fact I find it revolting that people believe that slapping their child is sometimes justified. In my opinion your response is actually much worse than mine because you don't see anything wrong with the act of hitting a child. Let me ask you a slightly different question: Would you get involved in a situation similar to the one given if you did find it to be against your morals?

When would you think that it is ok for a mother to slap her child? I believe that a child should be disciplined and a well-deserved slap could help a child not become a spoiled brat, but where would you draw the line between what is right and what is clearly abussive?

I think that there is a time and place for everything, and although I don't believe in hitting one's children, I think if parents are going to do it they should do it in their own homes, not in public. It is something that should be not done outside the confines of one's home. Also, I believe that on occasion, slapping a child may actually do some good. Many children that repeatedly misbehave will not change their behaviour unless they're really punished severely, and the easiest way to punish someone is through a little physical pain

I think that although spanking might bring up a well behaved child, if parents in America got a legal right to discipline their kids in this way, they would take advantage of it way too much. Do you guys think that French families handle this right well or abuse it?

I believe that if parents in American had a legal right to discipline their kids to the point of abuse, it would absolutely no difference in the number of child abuse cases. I'm sure that no violent parent thinks about the legal consequences before hitting his/her child. Moreover, before strict child abuse laws were implemented in the US, the rate of child abuse was equal to or less than the rate of child abuse in the US today.

In your opinion, what is the line between sometimes-necessary dicipline such as spanking, and actual child abuse?