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Spanking Children : Is It Abuse?

By Edited May 31, 2016 0 2

Credit: www.babycenter.com

Parents once gave little thought to swatting their child in the grocery store for throwing a tantrum.  This would be a time in the not-so-distant history that my grandparents would have referred to as “the good old days.”  It was a time when children knew the meaning of respect and were well aware of who ran their household.  No meant no and obeying a parent’s wishes seemed the better choice versus finding yourself in serious trouble later.   Even at the age of 28, I see serious and disturbing trends in parenting.  I attribute this to the lack of control parents take or are legally allowed to take. 

The “good old days” that hosted children who were well-mannered and respectful have been replaced with tantrum-throwing, crime committing youngsters of today.  The prophetic biblical scripture that states, “spare the rod, spoil the child” has; in my opinion, spoken all too loudly to be ignored.  Parents are no longer allowed to perform their job and because of that children suffer immensely.  With security cameras and social services lurking around every corner to make sure that the actions of the parent are controlled rather than that of the child’s.  With this basic parenting right stripped from families we are now faced with the inevitable downfall of a structure that titters on the brink of destruction.  Control in one’s home is crucial.  After all, parents are the initial authority figures in a child’s life.  The way in which a parent is seen will much decide how other authority figures will be viewed down the road.  The age-old use of spanking as a form of punishment has in recent years been questioned by parents, psychologists, teachers and government.  A clearly divided response has been heard through the media.  Many are pro-spanking and the rest are completely against any form of corporal punishment.  Those against spanking threaten the role that parents have in the upbringing of their children by attempting to criminalize any form of physical punishment.  It is my firm belief that this criminalization could be the absolute downfall of the American society by weakening the cornerstone, aka the parental control, in households across the country.  Impersonal laws and regulations are continually being placed upon parents, teachers and other authority figures by a government so far out of reach with its people that it has become blind to its effects.  This dangerous and unintelligent movement has lead to a domino of consequences that has been and will continue to be felt by this great nation as a whole. 

Child rearing and the chosen method of discipline should begin at home.  This fundamental aspect is something that it seems most Americans can at least agree upon when it comes to parenting.  Another basic fundamental belief that is commonly shared is that children thrive upon routine.  What is unacceptable behavior for a child within the home would also be unacceptable behavior at the shopping mall.  This constant and routine way of establishing what is right and what is wrong has been proven to be superior above all other methods in teaching children what is socially acceptable behavior.  These two theories can only coexist and survive when the authority figures in a child’s life come together and develop a plan of child rearing that are unchanging.  A parent’s choice of spanking within the household should automatically determine whether spanking in the school system is or is not an accepted form of punishment.  This allows a fluid transformation from the home to school environment without the opportunity for a child to misinterpret what is expected of him or her in either place as well as what consequences will follow behavior that has been deemed unacceptable.  Without the joint effort of both the school system and parents children are left confused and without that desperately needed routine that they crave.

Many professionals and unprofessional people alike would argue my stance on the matter by saying spanking is nothing more than a parent taking out their own aggression on a child.  They may counter my own ideas with hitting only teaches a child to hit and therefore leads to aggressive behavior towards other children and on into adulthood.  A few psychologists even believe that spanking; no matter how well-meaning, leads to psychological disorders that stem directly from corporal punishment.  These anti-spanking ideas are valid ones and more study and research needs to be done on the matter. 

“Spanking teaches hitting.”  This is a statement I hear time and time again from those within the anti-spanking campaign.  I agree.  If you hit your child, you will indeed teach fear, hostility and eventually aggression will be the bi-product of this type of abusive treatment.  Spanking is a completely different issue and when done properly is by no stretch abuse.  Children; especially toddlers, are known to hit well before they have ever been introduced to spanking.  They do this when conflict and aggression arises as a natural reaction.  Without the ability to verbally communicate their feelings, this physical means of acting out is only natural.  Whether a child continues this negative behavior of hitting is greatly dependent upon how a caregiver or parent responds.  If a parent enforces proper discipline, the aggressive behavior of hitting will decrease and eventually stop.  If the hitting is ignored or if the behavior is dealt with ineffectively, the hitting will almost surely continue and perhaps even escalate.   In this way, spanking does the opposite of contributing to violence.  Instead of allowing violent behavior to persist, it stops it effectively.  What is important to understand is that any abuse of discipline or punishment is likely to have a negative affect on children.  This includes time-out, restricting a child from activities, etc.  Spanking is no different and must be used appropriately. 

My ideology of spanking can only be described adequately by laying out examples.  Imagine an adventurous two year old is approaching an electrical plug-in with a metal pronged fork.  As she inches closer you have mere seconds to intervene as her life is quite literally on the line.  Do you reason with the child and explain the way in which electricity works?  Do you draw a chart explaining how electricity from the wall outlet will conduct with the metal she holds in her hand and then her body causing electrocution if she does not cease her activity?  Of course, another option would be to yell at her risking her jumping and jabbing the fork into the plug.  No, neither of those options will work.  The first is obviously ridiculous and the second isn’t much of an option either.  Since she is unable to reason at this early stage in her life she will not understand the consequences of her actions.  Therefore, you create a less horrific consequence for her by swatting her behind.  This form of psychological conditioning gives her negative reinforcement to her actions.  The general idea is this milder form of displeasure deters her from re-creating this event again.  Of course, as the child becomes older reasoning is then set into place and less spanking is needed.  An older child may earn his or her spankings through various ways.  Another example would be your six year old son continuously disrespects you.  He talks back and is overly defiant.  While spanking may not be the immediate answer if there are no underlying condition that is causing such behavior, a spanking is certainly warranted.  It may be just what he needs to understand who exactly is the parent and who is the child - role confusion is more harmful than a properly given spanking. 

In conclusion, the misguided individual who has been led to believe spanking is never acceptable would likely see my views as being atrocious and would perhaps even deem me as an un-fit and abusive parent.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I adore my child.  She is dotted over daily, showered with affection, given praise and more attention than most children.  There is no lack of love within our home.  It is the overflowing abundance of love and the need that we; my husband and I, feel as their parents to steer her towards the correct path that governs our choice to enforce discipline with spanking. 

Any parent should want what is best for their child or children.  This means waking up each day and consciously realizing that each decision that is made will have a lasting impact upon your children and then taking that knowledge and making the absolute best of your day as a family to ensure that you are leading your offspring in a direction that will ensure that they grow into happy, morally sound, healthy, prosperous and well-rounded adults.  Spanking is never something a parent should gain pleasure from, but parenting is made up of obstacles that are all too often difficult to maneuver around.  However, a good parent simply does what is truly best for their child in spite of the hardship that it entails.



Mar 25, 2011 8:06pm
good article. FYI I did notice in the next to the last paragraph the sentence is not complete. As a therapist I am in the camp of spanking is okay if done properly. You are correct to state that hitting and spanking are two different things. Unfortunately, many equate them. by the way--it is not illegal to spank your child.
Mar 25, 2011 8:40pm
Thanks for pointing out the error in my article! I'm not sure how I managed that, but glad you caught it!

It is also nice to hear from a professional that my theory on spanking is valid.
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