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I believe that spanking is a counterproductive means of raising a child, as studies suggest that it leads to heightened aggression and lower IQ and is associated with anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and sexual dysfunction. Separately, I believe that it is immoral to intentionally harm a child, mentally or physically, regardless of what control you wish to exert over them.
Reproductive privacy is a legitimate concern, but perhaps we should debate where to draw the line between that and the child's rights in considering anti-spanking regulation. Interestingly, the same political mind that promotes reproductive privacy in spanking opposes it in abortion and vice versa.

Editorial noting the statistics:
Article citing study: spanking decreases IQ:
Study: spanking at age 3 increases aggressiveness at age 5:
Study: spanking correlated with adult anxiety disorders and substance abuse:
Sweden became the first country to outlaw physical punishment of children in 1979. Now, the first generation of Swedish young adults to have been raised in a spanking-free society is in its thirties....
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Further more it is a diminishing and humiliating way to educate. And only generate frustration from a child PoV. Often resulting in: I will have my revenge attitude like from the child.
Are you saying that every 35-elderly adult is damaged because of how they were raised? Because the majority of people over 40 were spanked as a child. Parents afraid to discipline there children because of people like you are why crime and disrespect are so prevalent these days.
_ "Interestingly, the same political mind that promotes reproductive privacy in spanking opposes it in abortion and vice versa."_

Yes, that is quite a conundrum there. On the one hand the state must have such a substantial interest in the rights and parenting of children than it can impose itself in the relationship of parents to children inside the home. At the same time parents (or at least mothers) have a right to privacy of such magnitude that the same child before birth has absolutely no rights at all and the state has no right to protect that child what so ever.
"the majority of people over 40 were spanked"
Indeed! ...then I look at world and go.. hmmmmm...
introducing any form of violence in a childs education will result in that child own appreciation of what violence is and as he/she grow into society. Not introducing any form of violence can only have a positive effect.
+Steve Berry Do you have any facts or studies to back that up? Pretty much everyone my age was spanked. We aren't all in jail.

Besides this discussion has yet to make any distinction between one or swats on a clothed bottom with a bare hand, and using a paddle or belt etc.. There is a difference.
+Steve Berry While I might agree that it stand to reason that many criminals were abused as children, I'd still prefer some facts to back that up. However, I absolutely do not agree that ALL spanking is equivalent to abuse.
BTW: I don't "believe in Spanking" and don't recommend spanking as a means of discipline.

The question here isn't necessarily just whether spanking is good or bad. The questions are whether the state has the right to make all spanking illegal? What is the legal basis for the state taking such an actions? And does the state have a compelling interest in doing such a thing?
When everything is considered abuse, truly abused children are ignored. Spanking is not abuse nor is it violence.
Without having the experience of being a parent (scares me, to be honest), I can only speak from a place of ignorance.

Philosophically I'm opposed to violence being used as a way to condition loving & compassionate behavior. As +Christa Laser pointed out, the science has indicated that beating a child does not help and appears to promote violence.

I agree with Christa's suggestion that it should be opened for discussion. That way, a variety of ideas could be considered.

Great question. Thought provoking and likely to have a strong emotional connection. Strong opinions to be weighed. Fun :)
+Jaime Perry agreed, particularly when we are talking about an occasion open hand on a clothed bottom for a couple of swats. At some point it does turn from spanking to beating.
My question is if spanking is something that should not be done, (and I for one do not agree with it and would not want my children to go through what I have) what would be an equally authoritative action by the parent? Believe me, the parents who spank their children believe that there is no better way to convey obedience. I think we should start at an alternative and work our way from there.
I agree that spanking isn't "abuse" but it is definitely "A" form of minimal violence that can become very easily "A" maximum distortion in a child ability to recognize where to draw the lines of wrong vs right!
Sweden is a very good example. But Sweden is not America today! The impact of a non-spanking law in the US might actually have a totally different outcome as to what it actually should be or do.

Educating parents at how to apply authority is needed. A law without this support wouldn't be much of a help.
IMHO there is discipline, and then there is violence. A smack on the butt or hand should be in any parent's arsenal - but in moderation. It shouldn't be the only means of discipline/getting you child's attention.
I have experienced both. I was severely abused/ beaten by my mother. My father, grandparents, and teachers spanked me. To the ones who spanked me thank you for teaching me respect and the proper fear of authority and shaping me into the person I am today. To the one who abused me, I have not spoken to you in 10 years and I could care less if you are dead or alive as long as you are no where near my children. There is an enormous difference, between violent attacks and abuse toward children and a lovingly administered consequence for disobedience. I guess you have to experience both to know the difference. I would guess the OP has experienced neither.
I was spanked with a leather shaving belt as a kid and I've never been to jail. I spank my kids (not with a belt). They get one swat on the bottom after I count to three slowly. They are good kids. They are usually more upset about being in trouble than the actual spank. It only works on some kids though. Each kid has his/her own way to be disciplined. I didn't really even use spanking until kid #4 came along. It wouldn't have worked for the older 3 kids.
It really is not that simple. It was common practice, until this generation to spank children. If your idea that all spanking is abuse and all who were spanked will end up in prison then the entire population of the world minus a few here and there would be criminals. Your argument makes absolutely no sense.
Wow, because, I was spanked by teachers in school in the state of south carolina up until the 5th grade and I am 35. so that really was not that long ago. Also SC has a pretty high crime rate, so if the anti spanking legislation there has anything to prove, I would say the kids there have no respect for authority or fear of consequences.
Why spank? These days you can go to the doctor, get your child diagnosed with ADD, medicate and turn them into a little zombie.(Much greater form of abuse than a spank on the bum, imo.)
I believe TV is bad for young children. I believe McDonalds and junk food are bad for kids. I can find studies that will back that up and more studies will show the same. I think there are a lot of rotten parents. I even have a few deficiencies myself as a parent.

Short of actual, real abuse as legally defined now, I don't want the government regulating how parents raise their children.
A light spanking is a must, but must be used very sparingly and in certain situations where verbals fail to make the impact.
I'm about 40. I was spanked - rarely, and with I'm pretty sure reasonable cause. I don't recall being spanked after 9ish or so, I think. I fail to see how it brought harm, and would guess that my present self-discipline is an interiorization of the discipline I received as a child.

The article gives no source for the 80-90% number (although I found that 90% have reported being spanked) - and indeed, others readily available indications suggest those who have children age 2-12 now and used corporal punishment of any kind is presently far less than that, in the 60%s.

The original article reference Sweden, saying that it was already considered 'passe' by the time it was outlawed in 1979. As a sociological note, crimes per capita has increased steadily since 1960, specifically tripling in that time. Correlation is not causation, I'd admit, but neither is it necessarily unrelated.

I fail to see the moral equivalence you draw between the disciplining of children by an, at least, well-intentioned, rational and loving parent (ignoring those who go far beyond discipline into abuse, because of whatever psychological damage they have), and the execution of them by uncaring, murderously self-indulgent mothers and the medical industry who enable the unjust killing of the innocent in vast numbers (1.28 million abortions, disproportionately black, for 4.25 million live births from 2006 US Census, more recent numbers haven't been permitted to be published).

What I do see as equivalent is the selfishness of the above, and the selfishness of those who would not discipline their children because they refuse to be seen - by their children or by themselves - as "the meany", when, indeed, perhaps that's exactly what the child needs for their proper development, instead preferring to hold some notion that makes them nicer than others. Obviously, circumstances are different in different children, and boys and girls themselves are different and require different forms of discipline - as well as role models of both genders - to thrive.

I'm put in mind of the more recent studies (since the 90s) showing that, not just in relation to girls (which could be attributed to girls doing better) but as an absolute, boys are 'falling behind' in many measurable areas. Many see this sort of discipline question as a particular correlant as to why they might be.

I would suggest, since the 70s, the gender deconstructionists of the power-dialectical wing of the post-modernist movement have done a pretty significant job at attempting to instill a revulsion of the masculine virtues in the modern mind - including discipline, offering instead indulgence as the rule and discipline as the atavism - preferring to hold up as models the waxed metrosexual or the limp-wristed "sensitive new age guy" - particularly womanly examples of men, it seems to me.
And every parent must be sensible enough to know how to spank the child he/she loves.
The best judge of the effectiveness or counter-productivity of such disciplining is experience, and my experience says too much spanking spoils the child, and completely doing away with spanking spoils a child too. As I said, it has to be used wisely.
I agree +Umair Riaz I think every spanking I received included the statement "That is the last straw!" I was also always sent to my room before a spanking to "think about what I did"

Anytime I was beaten it was sudden and with or without reason. Sometimes I had no idea why.

I always knew why I was being spanked and I knew I could have avoided the consequence. I also never refer to when I was beaten as being spanked, because it was a very different action.
+Michael Lombardi Do you consider yourself to have a lower IQ and suffer from sexual dysfunction as the OP suggests? Or are you a violent hardened criminal as others have suggested?
I question the methodology and assumptions of many of those studies... Since their results fly in the face of the evidence all around us, I believe they were conducted with a considerable amount of researcher bias. You can "prove" almost anything you set your mind to prove by manipulating any manner of data. Spanking is a great tool when used sparingly with control for young kids. This nonsense about "teaching violence" is again disproven by the fact that the vast majority of us are not "violent." You know what is definitely proven dangerous - fatal even - to kids. "Reproductive freedom." 
+Jaime Perry no clue about sexual dysfunction, as my sexuality is the only i know. as for IQ, I thought that was supposed to be independent of education??? all I know about my IQ is it's lower than I'd like it to be. :)

I do know for a fact though that I've never been accused or convicted of any violent crime (or anything short of the occasional traffic violation).
I understand that many people have an intuition that children will be spoiled by not being spanked, but the research runs contrary to that intuition, showing that children who are spanked are less well-behaved than those who are not spanked. If you require anecdotes to get your intuition on board, anyone who has seen an episode of Supernanny where she stops the parents from spanking and in turn the children seem to magically start behaving could tell you the same.
However, a few anecedotes does not a statistic make. Therefore, you or someone else you know can turn out "okay," but you cannot say that you wouldn't have turned out better without comparing yourself to those in a similar situation who were not spanked, as these studies do.

FYI: this cited article discusses the study that showed both that spanking leads to sexual disorders and that 90% of Americans spank their children:
"The research shows that children who are spanked are less well-behaved than those that are not spanked"... Well yeah +Christa Laser, that's why they get spanked.
+Anthony Curry hehe nice.

+Christa Laser et al, I do remember a specific point in my life where I decided I didn't like getting spanked and was going to behave better to stop it. Of course, it didn't really stop it. I just got spanked for more minor offenses. ~shrug~
If you spank an adult without consent it's assault and battery. The same should be the same for children. Quite why people act as if it's okay to physically attack a child has never been clear to me.
What the original post suggests is that people who were spanked as children, have sexual dysfunction (need viagra) have a low IQ and are more dangerous as they are raised to deal with problems with violence. Never mind that nearly everyone our parents age were spanked, and they do not consider themselves victims, nor are they stupid or sexually scarred. The consequences of this sort of mindset will be seen in the future, and I am very afraid of what that future will bring. I have already seen children speak to their parents in ways that baffle me. The parents are powerless to do anything about it, because the parenting police are out there waiting to call if you raise a hand to that disrespectful little kid you have raised. If you discipline your children, they can call the police on you. Who decided it was a good idea to give that kind of power to a child? Did you know that even "time out" is frowned upon now, because it may humiliate them? I do not want to live in the world the parenting police are creating.
+Jaime Perry: you provide no support for your position that these people turned out fine; studies suggest they would have turned out better absent the spanking.
Also, timeout is generally considered acceptable for young children, though not for older ones who are capable of talking through their problems.
+Tony Sidaway there is a difference between spanking someone and beating them down. I doubt very much that spanking an adult on the bum would land you in jail on battery.. Maybe on sexual assault charges.
spanking adult happens quite often in baseball, but those people are not thrown in jail.
So you are saying that all of our parents and grandparents would have been better people had they not been spanked?
How is it even possible to prove that, do you have a time machine?
Christa - the study referenced had the following properties:

It was an 80 year one, so says nothing about the relative use in the last 30-40 years - the 90% number is overall, not present, as far as I can tell.

It was the first study to find this, which is the sociological equivalent of finding cold fusion.

The author of the study has been banging precisely this drum since 1998, when she wrote and published a "Guide for effective discipline" in some low-level pediatric journal. She has been doing workshops on it since at least 2002. This is not really the sort of independent, impartial researcher that you might want to support the argument.

Actually, I looked, and I don't see Gershoff's 2002 study, which says pretty much the same thing as the 2006 study, has been analyzed - just referenced, a lot.

There appears to be nobody that I can see at the APA looking at contrary hypotheses - this is not how science is done, this is how advocacy is done. This has all the makings of climategate. I'm not saying it's certainly wrong - but it has all the hallmarks.

I dub this "spankingate" - thanks for those who brought it to my attention!
When my daughter was two I had her in day care. We spoke about discipline and the person who ran the daycare said they are only allowed to use positive reinforcement as time out could embarrass the child and cause them to have "emotional problems". I am telling you, where you are headed is in a direction where all discipline is considered abuse, and the only consequences children will see is in prison when they grow up to have no fear of authority.
+Anthony Curry both spanking and "beating down" are assault and battery when carried out on adults. Don't deny it.
+Jaime Perry "spanking adult happens quite often in baseball," That's an interesting claim. What part of that game involves physical contact?
The "good game" spank on the butt part, have you ever watched a baseball game? It also happens pretty often in the service industry, I can't count the number of butt slaps I have given and received by fellow servers. It's not sexual harassment if you say good game.

Hello! I have never been arrested for giving a friend their birthday spankings.
Ah, a mark of affection by one team member to another, not an assault. Is this a serious attempt to derail the discussion? Try harder.
You said that both spanking and beating are assault, now you say it is a mark of affection, how can it be both?
You conveniently missed out "consent." Troll harder.
Sorry +Tony Sidaway.. locking an adult in a room against their will for time out is also a crime. Unless your a member of law enforcement..and even then sometimes.. Are you going to make the same comparison between children given "time-out" and adults?

There is a big difference between spanking and assault but if you cant see any difference between the two well..I'll just simply agree to disagree.
+Anthony Curry I don't understand your point. Locking an adult or a child in a room is not something I'd ever do. Would you?
I am not trolling I am stating my opinion. I refuse to believe that I was assaulted by my entire family and many of my elementary school teachers. I believe that the way I was brought up has made me a better person, you are trying to convince me otherwise. That is not trolling. Unless you believe that anyone who disagrees with you is a troll, then yes I guess I am.
Okay, not a troll but irretrievably dumb.
So all that disagree with you are dumb? How do you know I am dumb? Have you met me? The fact that I do not blindly agree with nonsense, well if that makes me dumb......
+Tony Sidaway Putting a child in a room for timeout was suggest as an alternative to spanking. If the child cannot reach the doorknob to get out, they are effectively locked in there.

My point was.. That some things that parents do to their children in a disciplinary way are of course not applicable to random adults.. but that does not mean that its abuse.
Ah ok, Its resorted to name calling. Well it was a nice debate +Christa Laser.One of those subjects that are fairly polarising. People like +Tony Sidaway ruin intelligent conversation.
You see, my point is that this is the first generation of at least Americans who find this form of discipline wrong. What is being said here is that our parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and each generation before that for as long as there have been children were wrong. Not only wrong but abusive. This claims that our forefathers would have turned out better and stronger had they not been spanked as children. Does that sound ridiculous to anyone else?
Jaime's got a point. Statistics can also suggest a relationship whilst ignoring other factors, because a person's development is not limited to his being spanked or not by his parents. The 'real' environment that we deal with is much more complex than that. Statistics can be misleading.
I'd like to add a different perspective (anecdotal, but perhaps a valuable change in tone). While I just recently became a parent, I would like to address this issue from the perspective of public education in the US. I taught 6th grade in an urban public school in Michigan prior to my current career. As most readers are likely aware, corporal punishment is illegal in most US states, including Michigan. During my five years in public education, I taught a full spectrum of students (many ethnic and most importantly, socio-economic backgrounds). Some who were taking advanced college courses at age 11 and some who were abused to the extent that I still, years later, find it difficult to talk about what I had to report to child protective services.

Across this spectrum, there were some students who were spanked, some who were not, and some who were outright abused. What I want to add is that my colleagues and I were able to develop behavior modification tools within our building that created a positive learning environment across the spectrum. No, there was no "cure" for all students. Some required high levels of outside assistance that a traditional school does not have the resources to offer. But for the vast majority of students, there are ways to provide strict discipline without the use of corporal punishment.

I am not taking a side in this debate. I do not know enough to tell other parents what is and is not acceptable in their family. I wish to provide this perspective because while I do not condemn those who utilize spanking, I firmly believe that there are viable alternatives to the practice that work for the vast majority of children. If it is possible to develop strategies that work in a school that serves such a wide spectrum of students, it is possible to use similar strategies in a home environment.
Thank you to the post-er who made my point about the problems that can be found in much of what passes for "research" into topics on which the researchers have already formed an opinion. I recently had an enlightening conversation with a vaunted university professor who had authored a study that made a very controversial "finding." I politely questioned how the study came to that conclusion and after many pieces of correspondence back and forth, I was finally told that as a layperson I could not possibly understand the methodology used in a complex study. (I have a degree in sociology from the same university where this person teaches, but apparently that does not cut it.) When I pushed a bit further - I simply wanted to know the questions that were asked that led researchers to categorize a certain group of people a certain way - the professor in question lost her temper and refused to discuss it with me any further.

Here's what I do remember from my degree studies - the fields of sociology and psychology seem to attract a lot of folks who themselves have some serious family dysfunction issues, and they project onto everyone else. They come into every research proposal with a very clearly defined thesis and then, often unconsciously, set out to prove it. How did they define spanking? I am a big supporter of the practice done right but they could have classified all manner of behavior that many would consider abusive as "spanking."

At this point, I mostly just laugh when I read these types of "studies." The fact is - dismissing REALITY as anecdotal evidence is the sign of a misguided mind. What's more, as a parent (and I suspect many of those spouting off about this are not), I can assure you that if the parents on Supernanny had provided their children with clear, consistent and firm guidelines, they (1) would not have had to spank very often and (2) would not have needed Supernanny in the first place. It is not because she doesn't spank that she gets results - it is because she teaches dimwitted parents to take control. Frankly, if she taught them how to properly apply a bit of corporal punishment as well, they'd get their results even faster.

Oh I almost forgot to add - that study that caused me to question the university professor? It wasn't even a new study - it was a new group of researchers "re-analyzing" an old study. To come to the same conclusion. To publish a new paper saying the same thing. Voila! Now there are TWO studies that say that! Intellectual laziness and dishonesty pervade academia.
I read another study showing that some people have a genetic trait that causes them to be able to withstand abuse well. I will post the link tomorrow (I'm on my phone now where I don't have it saved).
We are raising a bunch of thin skinned softies who can not handle any kind of criticism or discipline. When the real world hits these kids it's going to hit hard, and the end result will be failure. What is being toyed with is something that has worked for centuries. Now all of a sudden it has to be changed?
Slavery has worked for centuries, abuse of women...
+Christa Laser I don't know why a study on withstanding abuse has anything to do with a study on spanking. Spanking is not abuse. That is exactly the conflation that most likely led to these ridiculous study "results."
Lack of corporal punishment does not make a child thin-skinned or a "softie", lets be careful about what we are claiming here. Look at where much of the criticism and discipline a person experiences takes place - school and the workplace. Neither (for the most part) utilize corporal punishment, yet both are able (in most cases) to provide effective criticism and discipline.
Slavery and abuse of women has nothing to do with this conversation.
Discipline and respect for authority in school and the workplace would not work if it were not taught at a young age. You learn to respect authority from your parents.
Actually, slavery and abuse of women have plenty to do with this. Too many people still justify beating women by saying that only physical punishment can be used to change her behavior. It is ridiculous when applied to an adult human being, so why not with children? They are capa le of learning right from wrong with words and positive reenforcement from as soon as they start interacting meaningfully with their world.
I have to disagree because I have personally developed, utilized and witnessed strategies that worked with children who had no parental support to speak of and many of whom were the primary caretaker for younger siblings. My point is that while corporal punishment may work for some children, it is not a requirement that all children be exposed to it in order to become productive members of our society.
Well whatever, I'll go with experience coz it's the best teacher. I don't know why the element of 'abuse/assault' has crept into the discussion. The point was loving and "sane" parents would never do such a thing. There is room for light spanking as a last resort where verbals have failed on a child.
I certainly do not think it should be required, that is just as ridiculous as saying it should be outlawed. And beating women and giving a child a pop on the bottom can not be compared. This is an argument from someone who believes "spanking" means "beating" They are not the same, I have experienced both, they do not even come close to each other. I have never feared for my life when being spanked, also spanking is something that doesn't go on past the age of 9 or so. After that they should be disciplined enough so that a look sets them straight, or they can be grounded from friends and activities. This argument is solely based on the belief that everyone who spanks their kids is violently abusing them, and that is not the case. Abuse is already against the law, no need to fight for that.
Well, everyone loves to have an opinion. This is one you should keep to yourself, though, especially if you have not raised a child yourself.
+Jaime Perry your words: "What is being toyed with is something that has worked for centuries. Now all of a sudden it has to be changed?" I'm assuming your logic isn't selective to working only with things you agree with. My point is that the argument "If it's always worked, there's no reason to fix it" is wrong. If it wasn't wrong, the word "improvement" wouldn't be needed. People who were opposed to ending slavery used the same argument you're using now.

Also, wherever did you get the idea that authority needs to be respected just on the basis of it being "authority"? When I was in school, and even in college, I've had teachers and professors tell me completely ridiculous things. I've also had very stupid superiors at work. These people didn't deserve respect on the basis of them having authority, even though I still respected them for being human beings. And children should be taught the same, to evaluate people on their own merit, not on some position or title these people hold.
You will never see a movie on lifetime where a child is being spanked in the true sense of the word. It just isn't that horrible a thing to do.
If you truly cannot discern why it is not all right to "spank" an adult but it is okay to spank a child, then we have little to discuss. That level of a lack of discernment is somewhat off-putting. I would further point out that I would never spank an older child or teen either, because of the humiliation factor. But again, young children knowing that certain behaviors net them a swat is just another excellent tool in the arsenal of the well-armed parent. In any event, I tire of the lack of ability to differentiate between spanking children and abusing anyone, so I'm muting this and moving on. :)
The best strategies to correct misbehavior do not rely on being within arms-reach of a child.
Respect and manors are a dying concept. I will mourn them even if no one else does.
+Josh Yavor all children are not alike. Some learn things easily, some don't.
I'd say spelling correctly is a dying concept, except that I know that people had always had trouble spelling. I also know that these days people respect others and their opinions much more than they did in the past. Before you'd just as quickly start a fight over differences in opinion.
+Umair Riaz I'm completely in agreement, as stated in my previous posts. I have taught over 500 very different children and experienced this first-hand for every single one.
+Val Schuman Because enslaving a race of people and beating women does not compare to a pop on the bottom when your child does something dangerous or out of line. And yes you should respect people in a position of authority because they have the power to apply consequences. Don't respect police= ticket, jail, mace.... Don't respect your boss= fired, demoted, no chance for advancement, need I go on. Children should be taught to respect people and those who disagree with that are just arguing for the sake of argument.
Spelling correctly is certainly not as important as respect and manors ;-) , and this is precisely the point where the discussion should be closed.
I don't think anyone here is saying that children should not be taught to respect other people. The debate is over the value of corporal punishment as a tool within the overall toolbox of accomplishing this task.
A sign that someone is losing an argument in a forum, they become the spelling police. It happens every time.
...only as a last resort...if someone can accomplish the job without it, job well done :-)
+Jaime Perry But not you're using a completely different argument. Before, you were saying that spanking should be kept "because we've been doing it for centuries and it's always worked". I told you that this argument can be applied to many horrible things.

Now you're saying that spanking children and beating women are completely different things. And I completely agree with you. I'm just trying to see if you've let go of your original argument and realized that it's incorrect.

As far your respect argument... I'm sorry to get back to my old example, bud do you think a slave respects a master who beats him, or a wife respects her husband who beats her? Do you think they should respect their abusers? And I'm not comparing the police and bosses to abusers, I'm just saying that obeying someone because they can harm you is completely different from respecting them.

And +Josh Yavor is right. No one is saying that respect and manners should be abandoned. But if a man wants his wife to respect him, beating her is the wrong tool for the job. Same for raising children.
+Jaime Perry, you'd be right if someone critiqued your spelling without offering any additional arguments. Is it so happens, incorrect spelling hurts my brain and makes me think that the person must have been spanked too much as a child and that not enough attention was given to his spelling abilities. But as you see, my argument doesn't end with that. :)
Why is beating and spanking being compared they are not the same they are not similar, they are thousands of miles from each other.
Isn't it amusing that all sorts of abuse is being compared to how parents have taught their children for centuries?
My grandfather was a genius, and an educator who could not spell, he had an IQ of 160, but his spelling skills were terrible. I have also Know complete twits who could win any spelling B. Your point is.......
Because it doesn't matter what we're comparing as long as it fits your logical argument. Really, it's the simplest kind of logic, probably from the 8th grade: If P, then Q. And given that, regardless of what P is, Q always follows. Applied to your argument, "if a strategy has worked for centuries" (P), "then there is no reason to get rid of it" (Q). That's what you said. Forget about beating and spanking. Do you still agree with your statement? Or does your statement not apply to ALL strategies that worked for centuries?
and suddenly it dawned on us that we have been abused from one generation to the other by our ancestors! :-O
+Val Schuman quote: "and makes me thing that..." Oooops! Now I deserve a spanking! ;-)
+Umair Riaz you deserve a spanking? This is turning weird :) And I'm sure you can tell the difference between a typo and a spelling error :)
no I can't tell coz I wasn't spanked as a child :-P
just kidding, thanks for your time.
No the things that did NOT work have been abandoned such as slavery. Because they were wrong. A dog, lion, any animal, will snap at her young when her young are out of line. But then again it is against the law to protect your children too, so why should this be any different? I hope I spelled everything right, I wouldn't want to offend.
Focusing on spanking is preventing us from looking at the bigger pictures. We all probably agree on what 90% of good parenting looks like. Parents need to provide LOVE, affection, attention, nurturing and compassion. Parents should be involved in the lives of their children and read to them and talk to them. Parents need to model how to get along in the world. Parents also need to provide structure and discipline.

I don't dispute the right of people that believe spanking has no part in good parenting to not spank. I don't even believe in spanking my own children except in very rare circumstances that may or may not ever happen. I can agree that spanking should not be a very large percentage of a parents discipline plan.

However, I seriously doubt that in a solid study of children raised in an otherwise extremely positive parenting model with loving parents that we would find that there was any measurable increase in violence or criminality caused by infrequent swatting on the clothed bottom with the open hand.

I don't doubt that in families where parents are weak in many other areas of parenting and possibly don't have effective discipline at all, and the parents resort to frequent spanking as a first or primary response to behavioral problems that it has a negative impact. I think though that that involves looking at the whole parenting picture and family dynamic - not just focusing on the spanking as THE issue. Affection, attention, stress, overwork, mental health, emotional problems, substance abuse, mild neglect and so on are all related issues that I would bet are highly correlated with parents who rely heavily on spanking.

I aslo do not believe that any state has the right to criminalize any aspect of parenting and discipline outside of clear abuse. Regardless of the right or ability to criminalize spanking I don't think it would be a efficient use of resources or lead to real improvement in child welfare.

The focus should be on building stronger families and supporting parents in becoming better parents, not turning them into criminals or expanding the foster care system.
Very well said +Paul Deming . I think my problem with this whole argument is, that while someone gasps because a child is being popped on the hand at a store for being completely out of line; There is a 12 year old looking at her bleeding welts in the mirror through tears in her eyes. No one will ever gasp for her, because her abuse happens behind closed doors. While you argue over whether spanking is abuse she knows she has not been spanked. So while the parenting police call CPS over a little corrective swat, they are not on their way to help a true victim of abuse. Like I said before, when everything is considered abuse, real abuse falls through the cracks.
Who can say spanking "worked" for anyone? Some people are less likely to be permanently harmed by negative developmental environments than others: However, there is no way for you to say as a mere individual that you turned out better with spanking than without it or even that it didn't harm you. Those kind of comparative statements cannot be substantiated without controlling using others with a similar background but without spanking, such as the studies opposing spanking have done. No one is saying that one spank will turn each child into a murderous criminal-- we are saying that there are more effective ways of changing your child's behavior and that spanking does cause a child to resort to physical responses when they are angry and can prevent them from calmly and rationally coping with the world around them, hence the studies showing increased aggression, lower IQ, and anxiety (aka inability to calmly cope with troubles in the environment).
I think what works is EFFECTIVE discipline, and that is going to differ from child to child. It is also clearly what is lacking in many children today and, sadly, also many adults. What that EFFECTIVE discipline would be would vary from child to child - some things will be more effective than others. But some cures are just obvious, too, like making them clean up after themselves when they make a mess, etc.

Also, one thing I am curious about...Why is it that all the anti-spanking advocates are so strongly opposed to exposing a child to such "violence", but they have no qualms whatsoever exposing that same child to violence on television and in video games?
116 comments! Awesome post,+Christa Laser, as usual.
Although it's hard to draw causational conclusions when doing these studies, thanks to their complexity, and the influence of genetic factors... it's a no-brainer for me.
To me, it's counterintuitive to use fear as a means to achieve desired behaviour from your child.
A spanking parent sets a bad example to the child regarding solving problems using violence, for sure.
My kids respond well to discipline because they respect me for fairness, which is a groovy situation.
+Laurence Hubbard, I agree. I can't remember ever being disciplined with negative actions, only by not getting a reward I was looking forward to. It was always clear to me what the consequences of my actions would be before the fact. My mom would say to me, "If you don't do this school project well, you will not get a good grade, which will mean you won't get into the school you were so excited to go to," or, "If you keep interrupting me I am not going to listen to you, so you have to wait patiently until I am finished if you want me to listen." My nanny was a little more direct, so if I did something bad, like running off, I would get a stern, "No." But I never really misbehaved as a child; I was risk averse enough to not get myself into physical danger and positive reinforcement made me behave well in order to get the approval and appreciation I found myself craving.
I'm a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I've read extensively in the literature about physical punishment of children. I find it incredibly frustrating to see so many people misunderstand research (hint: none of the studies have said there is a 1:1 correlation between physical discipline and criminality, so the flip comments about how "well I guess it's not true because we're not all in prison" are completely irrelevant and border on willful ignorance of the basics of empirical research). It is wise to apply critical thinking to research methodology and conclusions, but dismissing studies out of hand because they challenge a dearly-held belief of yours is NOT the same thing as engaging in critical inquiry about possible research bias.

The weight of evidence in the literature is that physical punishment increases aggressive and oppositional behavior in children. Therefore, if your goal is to decrease these behaviors, considering other methods is the only reasonable course of action. (Trying more of the same rarely works in any kind of interaction, and in the worst case scenarios, results in runaway escalation with tragic outcomes.)

This does not mean that the only alternative is "let children do whatever they want." Dozens of studies on child and adolescent development support the conclusion that the most successful parenting style is an authoritative one (with appropriate parental hierarchy and boundaries, clear leadership from parents, but sufficient flexibility to adapt to childrens' changing needs and age-appropriate collaboration with children/adolescents about some aspects of family rules and roles). Both permissive and authoritarian (my way or the highway, heavily discipline-oriented) styles have similarly negative outcomes.

Some people can survive sexual abuse with minimal trauma. Some people can be mugged with minimal trauma. Some people can survive neglect, bullying, homophobia, poverty, homelessness, addicted parents, being a refugee, religious abuse, chronic illness, a mentally ill parent, you name it, and come out OK at the end. Hence the great interest now in studying resilience and why some people are more resilient than others. But just because people can be resilient to horrific experiences doesn't mean we just stand by and let them happen to people. Some people are also severely impacted by relatively minor negative experiences - studies in infant temperament and how it relates to later personality and interpersonal relationships suggest that many individuals are just more vulnerable no matter what.

Research on child discipline is important because it suggests what practices are effective for most children, what practices are most likely to be ineffective, and the relative possibility for various practices to hurt more than they help. Physical discipline has been found, over and over again, to hurt more than it helps. You can choose to write these conclusions off, but at least be intellectually honest about it and admit that you reject the conclusions because you don't like them.
+Denise Lawson your comment is absurd on its face. There has been a vigorous dialogue going on in the world of family studies, child psychology, and child development for decades about the impact of exposing children to violent imagery, and many of the efforts to age-restrict movies, TV, and video games have come out of research in these fields, though not all researchers agree that this is the appropriate method of dealing with these concerns. Claiming that researchers on physical punishment just don't care about children being exposed to other kinds of violence is completely dishonest and I would challenge you to provide credible evidence to support your statement.
+Denise Lawson I was rarely spanked as a child (exception to the over 40 rule). I spanked my younger child twice and profusely apologized afterward; lost my temper both times. (And therein lies a danger in spanking—too often it has to do with the parent's emotions rather than the child's behavior.). I grew up without a television for most of my life. Our kids were never allowed to watch live TV, only shows that we agreed they could pre-record. I'm not certain where you see the TV-violence/spanking contradiction. My personal experience and knowledge of friend's parenting is that those who cared about violence cared about it across the board.

Parenting is a tough thing to discuss. Our anecdotal evidence tends to be entirely personal, as its not something that tends to get discussed or seen a great deal. It's also something that we internalize at a very early age. What's normal is what we experienced, and however much we may have disliked it as a child, we do tend to do the same things our parents did, even when we realize they were ineffective or downright wrong. As a result, studies that indicate that some techniques result in less aggressive kids aren't going to be believed (or alternatively, it will be argued that aggression is good).

Personally, I didn't want my kids to believe that violence solves problems, since (unlike a number of presidential candidates), I've observed that in fact violence cannot solve every problem. In my mind, spanking sends entirely the wrong message; force instead of reason. It's gratifying to know that more objective evidence backs it up.
Thank you for your thoughtful commentary +Kee Hinckley and everyone.
And +Sheila Marie, that link is so fantastic that I just have to share it. I will hat tip you.
I still don't understand the correlation between spanking and violence. Violently spanking someone is abuse, which is already illegal. A pop on the hand or bottom, which doesn't even hurt, and is only intended to get full attention is not an act of violence. Why do you all keep saying violence? Has anyone ever played the game where you hold your hands out and your friend tries to slap your hands before you can take them away? would you say you were playing violently? Ever played punch bug with your sister? Violence? Really? I'm really tired of hearing this. Just because there is physical contact, does not make it violent.

Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.
Strength of emotion or an unpleasant or destructive natural force.

A pop on the hand or bottom is not intended to hurt, damage, or kill. Nor is it a destructive natural force.

Attaching the word violence to spanking turns spanking into beating and beating your children is not permitted by law. Oh and trust me children weather they are spanked or not, hit, bite, and fight.
I would also like to add, that with this logic, we should also ban all sports as the physical contact could hurt our children and cause violent behavior. How do you know our world wouldn't be a better place without sports? We already aren't aloud to encourage competition. FYI competition is a very important tool for making it in life. But we don't want any of our children feeling like they lost so competition is out. This style of parenting is fine, but just like religion, not one is all right. Insisting on changing the laws to fit your ideals is ridiculous. We can't all have things the way we want, and I will quote a phrase that I'm sure will be illegal to tell kids soon. "Life isn't fair."
My children do not consent to being sent to their room, which means I am holding them against their will "kidnapping" Anything can be changed into something bad by saying "consent"
If I am only aloud to discipline my kids in ways they consent to, well, I would not be aloud to discipline my kids.

I have also never consented to my sister punching me in the arm when she saw a VW bug on a road trip, but I still wouldn't consider it violence. Nor would I say I am damaged because of it. It did make me hit her back if I saw a VW bug before her though.
This is a very complex subject and I'm not confident that scientific data alone without proper context can give us the answers we seek. What is spanking? How often is it done? What duration? What method? What offences? Are the parents usually aggressive or angry? Do the parents yell a lot? Is there any positive enforcement? Do the parents use any other discipline techniques?.. etc.

For all we know, these studies could be the same as saying "people who eat McDonald's die faster" without ever putting context on the other contributing factors (e.g., exercise, eating other harmful fast food restaurants, stress, etc).

Like many people, I was spanked as a child (along with my siblings) when a certain degree of wrong was done. And like many people, I don't have aggression, intelligence, anxiety or substance issues. In contrast, I know people who were never spanked and have gone through at least 2-3 of those "findings" during their life.

My son has and probably will continue to be spanked when appropriate. Spanking is rare. I mostly opt for taking away toys and having conversations. When spanking happens, however, it is done with a calm, firm hand and never out of anger. He is always talked to beforehand and afterwards.

Rather than focusing on spanking alone, I would like to see these researchers provide a framework of real-world parenting techniques.. covering positive reinforcement, discipline and day-to-day activities. Personally, all I hear is "don't spank", but I have yet to hear anyone advocate anything like "did you know positive reinforcement makes your child 3x kinder and 9x smarter."
+Fernando Dunn - like my comment to another poster earlier, your assertion that researchers in this area aren't providing alternatives is... incredibly ill-informed and in fact contrary to reality. There is plenty of literature on behavioral interventions with children that don't involve physical punishment. Whole schools of family therapy have spent over 40 years investigating systemic changes to families that end runaway cycles of mutual escalation and provide more effective parental leadership. There's an entire chapter in "Effectiveness Research in Family Therapy" devoted to summarizing the research that demonstrates the effectiveness of a variety of family therapy interventions that address child behavioral problems, none of which involve hitting your kids. There are all kinds of books on non-violent discipline available to lay people, based on child development and child psychology.

The problem with "a pop on the bottom" (and I love how the word "pop" is so often substituted for "hit" or "smack" or "slap" to minimize how it sounds) is that it damages parent-child attachment, and reinforces the idea that a lightning-fast, physical response is a way to resolve conflict and enforce one's authority. It has no connection to natural consequences, and for kids with certain temperaments, it can be particularly damaging to their sense of trust, safety, and self-worth (if I ever see the pro-spanking contingent suggest that maybe what we need is personality testing for kids to figure out who is safely spankable, I'll eat my hat).

Parenting research suggests that it's more effective to provide consequences clearly linked to the problem at hand, taking a firm and clear stance while validating kids' feelings about the consequences, e.g. "yes, I understand that you're angry that you don't get to play with your friend any more today. You didn't follow the rules about playing nicely, so she had to go home early, which is a bummer."
Again with the word violence, you people really have a warped sense of violence. I wish I could live in the warm and squishy world you live in where a spanking is considered violent. You see in my world violence is a tragic thing that is often rewarded when it is done by our troops. Violence causes physical damage and often death. For the love of god please stop using the word violent when referring to spanking. A spanking which is violent is child abuse or a beating which is already against the law. I always have and always will love and trust the people who spanked me as a child. I was also abused by someone I do not trust, love, respect or speak to anymore. I know better than most the difference between spanking and abuse having experienced both. Most of you wouldn't know a spanking if it hit you in the butt.
I'd like to thank my folks for spanking me as a helped mold me into what I am today...I needed it then...without it I am certain I would be in jail, dead, or think I could tell people not to spank their kids...
By "hellhole" the author means a world that has less vindictive anti-intellectual conservatives, making the author feel alien ergo insecure.
+Sheila Marie my primary point is you rarely see enabling information shared in posts like this. All we usually see are links to easy to digest articles and quotes showing what not to do because they appeal to the emotions. For example (and no offense to +Christa Laser ), where are the links to this readily available information you mentioned? To have a strong enough conviction about spanking to post on google+, why not enable people at the same time? We as a society usually only focus on what not to do and rarely provide a solution in an easy to digest manner.. or perhaps just from people who have lack real world experience in the isseue.
Also, +Sheila Marie, +Christa Laser and anyone else who has an opinion of corporal punishment based on research, how do you decide which research you believe? I am honestly just wondering.. because there is typically some form of "opposing" research which I assume has been checked out.
There is no research suggesting that hitting children is an effective means of discipline. So that's pretty easy.
Now that is an incredibly ill-informed assertion (in your own words). In less than 5 minutes of browsing the reference of the article regarding IQ, I found on Murray Straus' University of New Hampshire home page. It was an interesting read showing both sides of the fence. What is most interesting are the responses from each of the professionals to one another starting on page 215.
spank is good thats why my kids dont talk bakk and have respect for me unlike your kids
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