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Religious Tolerance logo

"Hot Saucing" as a method of child corporal punishment

Manufacturers' comments. Legal aspects.
Book review. Public opinion poll results.

Sponsored link.

What do sauce manufacturers say?

bulletMcIlhenny Company of Avery Island, LA manufacture Tabasco. The owners of the company condemn the use of the product for child discipline. President Paul McIlhenny called hot saucing "strange and scary" and "abusive." 1
bulletGlenn Garner, marketing manager for the producer of Texas Pete hot sauce also rejected the use of hot sauce as a discipline method. "Obviously that's not something that we condone or believe in at all....As a child I ate [hot sauce] because I enjoyed it, not because it was forced on me." 2

Legal aspects of "hot saucing:"

bulletVirginia's child protective services agency groups hot saucing along with forcing children to kneel on sharp gravel or locking a child in a closet as "bizarre behaviors." 1 Manager Betty Jo Zarris said: "We have to have some community standards for what's appropriate to do to children. Common sense would tell you [hot sauce] is not appropriate for a child. The common man on the street would know this is offensive."
bulletIn Michigan, a child care center was sanctioned for using hot sauce to discipline a child. Allegedly, a mother of a 18-month old infant gave child care workers permission to use hot sauce to discipline her son who was biting other children.
bulletA childcare center in Georgia was investigated after it was discovered that workers used hot sauce to discipline some children. 3

Reviews of "Creative Correction:"

"Creative Correction," by Lisa Whelchel, is a Focus on the Family book. Focus is a fundamentalist Christian agency centered in Colorado Springs, CO. Its founder, James Dobson, is a psychologist who recommends spanking infants and young children from the age of 18 months upwards as an effective discipline technique.

Amazon.com, the world's largest online bookstore, allows individual book readers to post their comments. This book received a range of ratings from 1 star (the minimum) to 5 stars (the maximum). The average rating of 50 reviewers was 3.5.

Some comments:

bullet5 stars: "Lisa does a fabulous job of using different examples of her own kids and how she actually tried some of the methods in the book and was very careful to admit not everything works for each situation."
bullet1 star: "If one of Lisa Whelchel's kids came into my schoolroom complaining of being forced to drink hot sauce, having his/her hair pulled as punishment, having water sprayed in his/her face like a dog, or having meals withheld from him/her, there is no question that I would be duty-bound to report it' as a teacher." (This reviewer is misrepresenting the hot sauce technique. The child is not forced to drink the sauce. A small quantity is placed on their tongue.)
bullet3 stars: "I liked how she used Scripture to back things up. She even explained why it is so important to use Scripture when raising your children."
bullet1 star: "...the child exposed to this type of "parenting" will grow to remember the cruelty of the "correction" rather than the action that prompted it. Treat children with respect and they will respect themselves....Unfortunately, many atrocities have been committed in the name of Christianity, and this book, in it's uniformed cruelty towards children, is just another."
bullet5 stars: Each child is "...a future adult. God has given you this gift to raise him in His light. Lisa stepped out of the "box" of today's parenting, if that is what you call it, and gives a refreshing, creative way to deal with issues. Get the book, try some of the tools and see what happens...you will be surprised!"
bullet1 star: "I cannot imagine a book worse than Whelchel's 'Creative Correction.' It's overly preachy, pithy, and full of really bad 'hints.'  I realize it's published by Focus on the Family, but this isn't the way to go if you really want to try and discipline children. Hot sauce! Really! A LOVELY childrearing hint."

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bullet5 stars: "I have found this book to be incredibly helpful, mostly because for each problem, there are several suggestions for how to handle them. ...Not every parent will need or use every idea, but it sure is nice to have the choice."
bullet1 star: "Lisa is a fundamentalist 'Christian' who has no clue about raising children. I predict her own children will spend years in therapy and end up hating their mom, once they are old enough to learn that their childhood was far from normal. Avoid this book. It is poison."
bullet5 stars: "This is a wonderful book. Lisa Whelchel not only covers the traditional methods of discipline, but also gives some very interesting and "creative" ideas....It will give some scriptures and some ideas that will refrain you from pulling your hair and also help you explain to the child why it's wrong to be acting the way they are and have a suitable punishment for it. ...the book would be a good start on how to discipline children."
bullet1 star: "I was reminded more of techniques used by torturers than of loving parents."
bullet5 stars: "I also like the one that says if you catch your child playing with matches, pick something very special to him (like a favorite baseball card) and burn it. Wow...that'll send a strong message to never play with matches again. Let's get real. Kids need discipline and structure. To all the parents that imply this book is too strict or disrespectful to children....get a clue and be a parent!"
bullet3 stars: "I fail to see the logical connection (or biblical support) for putting hot sauce on a child's tongue [or for] ... spanking a child. In Canada, a parent who employs the hot sauce method risks being charged with assault and having their child removed from their home. The same applies to parents who use paddles, straps, switches, etc."

Poll results:

bulletThe ABC News web site, in a non-scientific poll, received over 8,000 votes. Results were:
bullet65% said that hot saucing is an unacceptable form of discipline.
bullet35% said that it was acceptable.
bulletWLMT-TV of Memphis, TN conducted an informal poll of visitors to their web site. Results were:
bullet74.8% felt that it is an unacceptable form of punishment
bullet16.8 felt that it is acceptable
bullet8.4 were not sure.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Alison Buckholtz, "Feeling the Heat. Some Parents Apply Hot Sauce to a Child's Tongue as Punishment. The Practice Has Some Experts Burning," The Washington Post, 2004-AUG-10. Page HE 01. Online at: http://www.axisoflogic.com/

  2. Bo Emerson, "New flavor to punishing kids: Sting of hot sauce. Drops on tongue popular option. Parenting experts call it distasteful," Cox News Service, 2004-SEP-02. Published in the Toronto Star, 2004-SEP-03, Page D3.

  3. Pamela Page, "Tabasco Discipline: 'Hot-Saucing' Your Kids," WOAI TV, 2004-AUG-25, at: http://www.woai.com/

Copyright © 2004 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2004-AUG-28
Latest update: 2006-MAR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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