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The Abuse That Many Never Hear nor See: Quiet Crimes against Children (Tickle Torture and Other Abusive Practices)...

Updated on May 4, 2011


There is a sad pleasure some get from seeing others in pain. This is the only way they know they are loved. It’s very similar to the "I'm leaving you" game some couples play. When there is an argument, one will threaten to end it all, and in some cases will even use the ‘D’ word: Divorce.

Of course they truly do not want this, but they are unwilling to communicate their true feelings. They prefer to threaten to end the relationship with the one they love, hoping to frightening them into running after them. This is not an ideal way to find if a partner loves you. It is unhealthy and can potentially have devastating effects on a relationship that might have been saved.

Why would mature adults play such immature games? Transparency (or truthfully expressing their own feelings) is risky business. In the past, it may have placed them in harm’s way or at the mercy of an unkind person who caused them pain; quite possibly someone who abandoned them. For others it may simply be lack of good role modeling, they have never seen what it looks like to be open and honest with someone they love. Luckily, these games are only played on other adults; people old enough to know better, or at least know how to recover from the effects, right? WRONG!


Imagine a young mother and her child in a department store. The child is having a terrible temper tantrum and throws themselves on the floor. The child then hides under a rack of clothes. Mom seems frustrated and is losing patience fast. The child refuses to budge. Finally, in a mocking voice mom says… “That’s fine. I’m leaving you here! Goodbye, good luck, you can live here from now on…” Mom then begins to walk off slowly, she is never far out of reach, but she appears to leave the child behind, slyly looking over her shoulder to watch the child’s reaction. A frightened squeal pierces the air as the child runs out, wide eyed and fearing abandonment, “momma, wait, don’t leave me, momma, where are you?”.

The parent plays the same "I'm leaving you" game on the child. Threats of leaving misbehaving children behind in the stores, or even jealous parents upset by a child who wants to stay with the 'other' non-custodial parent is solved by threatening to abandon the child for good. 

"Fathers, don't exasperate your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master. (Eph 6:4, The Message Version)"



If a bigger, more powerful person uses tickling to force others into submission, this can be considered abusive. There are some individuals who might disagree, however, the truth remains it is a form of torture, here's why: The Urban Dictionary's definition of torture includes “to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure”. Tickling can easily turn into 'sadistic' pleasure: ("To derive pleasure or enjoyment from another's pain. Whether physical or emotional").

Tickling sets in motion reflexes that cause the body to jerk, lunge, and causes weakness so that the individual cannot defend themselves. In some instances people have lost bladder or bowel function in public, causing embarrassment. In ancient times some groups of Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures used tickling as a form of torture against prisoners.

While tickling can be fun and pleasurable at times, prolonged tickling becomes annoying and turns painful. When a parent uses tickling to dominate or even frighten their children, this sadistic form of torture is abusive.


“The Boogie Man/Chupacabra/Ghost/ is going to get you…”

Telling a child frightening stories then expecting them to feel strong and self reliant enough to sleep alone is irrational. This inflicts unnecessary harm and stress on a child. This also creates future problems for peaceful bedtimes, night terrors, and other possibly long lasting problems. Other forms of fear as a weapon can include threatening to destroy or give away a child’s toys to coerce them into compliance. Children may feel they are powerless and there is little safe or sacred in their lives. It is dehumanizing.These situations place the child at the mercy of the parent; threatening their blossoming sense of empowerment and developing independence. There are better ways to parent and to elicit compliance from your children (see resources below). While the parent may at first believe it is for the ‘child’s own good’, only after the damage is done can we see the error in using these methods.


Three of the most basic human needs are physical care, love, and belonging. When we use these as tools to threaten or coerce others into action, we may create wounds at the core level of the human heart. In the case of a child, these can affect their ability to trust others. These are "Quiet Crimes against Children" because they generally go unnoticed and therefore unpunished; however the adult who recognizes these unhealthy activities in their life should begin to root them out immediately. These are choices we make. Whether we seek counseling, talk with a trusted clergy member, enroll in parenting classes,or add prayer and focused Bible studies on better ways of being, all of these can be helpful.

Consider these resources, however if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, seek help immediately.

National Child Abuse Prevention Partner Organizations

ChildHelp: Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse

Focus On The Family: Helping Families Thrive

CrossWalk: Parenting


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    • steffsings profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      @Quanta, Thank you for your comment. Yes prolonged tickling, and I'd add any unwanted or undesired touch meant to empower the adult and make the child feel helpless or weak, for the adults own pleasure would be inappropriate. The adults own motives are key as well.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      But the researchers say that parents tickling their kids help activate self-awareness in the kids and it's necessary from evolutionary point of view. Of course not prolonged tickling.

    • steffsings profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      SUSANNELEE: Thank you for your thought provoking and creative comment. Welcome to hubpages, stop by anytime!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A book on marriage and parenting, parents letting go of the past to move forward with your family instead of "why am i, as a mother so different?"


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