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Religious Tolerance logo

Child corporal punishment


"Hot Saucing:" A traditional method
to discipline children via pain & terror

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Webmaster's note:

Sadly, among the over 8,000 articles on this web site, this menu is the fifth most visited.

What it is:

"Hot Saucing" (a.k.a. "Hot Tongue") involves burning a child's tongue with Tabasco or a similar hot sauce as a punishment for unacceptable behavior. It is generally used when the child's misbehavior is related to the use of their mouth: talking back to adults, lying, biting someone, swearing, spitting, refusing to eat, etc. Variations on the punishment include the use of acetic acid (vinegar), lemon juice, soap or some other substance that is highly noxious when swallowed.

According to the Washington Post:

" 'Hot saucing,' or 'hot tongue,' has roots in Southern culture, according to some advocates of the controversial disciplinary method, but it has spread throughout the country. Nobody keeps track of how many parents do it, but most experts...including pediatricians, psychologists and child welfare professionals, [are]... familiar with it." 1

"Hot Saucing" has been promoted on some Internet sites, in Today's Christian Woman  magazine, and in a Focus on the Family book. Focus on the Family is a fundamentalist Christian agency located in Colorado Springs, CO that advocates corporal punishment of rebellious children starting in infancy at the age of 18 months.


Full disclosure: Author bias:

The author of this essay very strongly opposes all methods of corporal punishment. He feels that the hot saucing technique is an abusive act.

All of the staff at personally oppose hot saucing.  One suggested that, from most children's point of view, hot saucing is a terrorist act.

We strongly recommend against this or any other discipline method which causes physical pain. We have include the essay on our website because the use of hot saucing appears to be increasing. We feel that our site visitors need to know what it is, its dangers, and what people think about it.

Topics covered in this section:

bullet Medical contraindications. Hot saucing advocates

"Dr. Phil" & other "Hot Saucing" opponents

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

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:

  2. The Democratic Underground has a exchange of views on hot saucing. See:

Copyright © 2004 to 2020 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2004-AUG-28
Latest update: 2020-JAN-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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