close up shot of two little girls lying on picnic blanket

On the Beating of Children


The story illustrates the level of violence we accept amongst children in otherwise non-violent societies, but it gets even worse: differing speeds of development lead to huge differences in size and strength, meaning bullying is often like getting picked on by a Shaq-like giant.


Yes, in the developed world “corporal punishment” (literally “bodily punishment”, an eloquently Latinized euphemism for “beatings”) is on the decline, but if a 19th-century person told you that though wife-beating was still legal, it was on the decline, you’d look at them at least a little bit askance.

Corporal punishment, while permitted for children, is never allowed for adults, even for convicted murderers. It’s legal to beat a child for talking out of turn, but not for adults who have repeatedly, viciously, murdered people (*).

Countries that do beat people for talking out of turn are universally regarded as brutal dictatorships, just so long as those beaten include grown-ups.


Children are expected to never resort to violence. If on the playground they’re hit, they should not hit back, but find an authority figure instead. Generally, this authority will do nothing meaningful, and the only result will be the status penalty of being labeled a tattle-tale, resulting in an even more vulnerable personal position.


Meanwhile, if a reasonable adult simply feels threatened, such as from having popcorn thrown at them (**), they can shoot someone to death.


The value of truth as a virtue and liars as dishonorable is universally held, except when speaking to children.



Very insightful article, and many of what they touch on is true in a western society.

(*) Singapore is an exception.

(**) Probably only in the US.

Posted by



Leave a Reply…