Rafed English

Smacking Children 

Beating children for misbehaving or to raise them is a topic that many parents differ on. Is it good? Is it bad? Is it useful? So how does the school of Ahl Al-Bayt view smacking children?

When looking at the sayings of the infallible figures (pbut) it will become clear that hitting children is not allowed and abhorred, unless it was the last resort in bringing up the child to have the correct behaviors and morals. Even then it still has conditions and clauses. It will also be clear that the sayings give importance to the feelings and emotions of the child.
For example, a man complained to Imam Musa ibn Jafar (A.S) about one of his sons (who was mischievous) so the Imam (A.S) replied: “Do not hit him, but abandon him and do not do it for a long time”(1). The Imam (A.S) disallows hitting the child to punish him and instead allows the use of emotional punishment rather than physical punishment. A child sees that his parents are his refuge and his resort, therefore abandoning them would be considered a big punishment for their emotions and emotions will drive them to behave correctly. Then the Imam (A.S) wants the parent not to make this punishment too long so the emotions of the child would not be destroyed nor would the child fell worthless.
It has to be acknowledged that some children make their parents go to the last choice (beating) and do not make progress in behavior unless they would be beaten. If that was the case, there are conditions the parent has to follow to be allowed to hit the child which could be reviewed in jurist’s books. One of the important conditions is leniency.
Imam al-Sadiq (A.S) alerted this when asked about the amount that is permissible to hit a child by stating “Five or six and be lenient (soft)”(2)

 1.  Bihar Al-Anwar v101 p99
  2. Wasail Al-Shia v18 p.548

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