Spanking Is Not the Solution

One expert says "Hitting is the easy way out."


I was going to write a nice nostalgic article on Thanksgiving projects, like making pictures of turkeys by tracing your hand or cutting out paper tail feathers, writing what students are thankful for on them, and pasting them to a picture of a turkey. I had visions of readers sharing their memories of grade school Thanksgiving traditions. Wouldn’t that have been nice? Then I read the comments from on the causes of ADHD and the turkey project idea flew right out the window. 

On the most part, I really enjoy reading the comments after my articles, but sometimes I wonder what on earth people are thinking. This was the case with last week’s article. I was just recovering from reading the comment from the pro-pesticide activists who cited hypochondriac parents as the ones who believe ADHD can be caused by exposure to pesticides, when I saw the comment on pro-spanking. This reader believes, “Spankings, from a very young age would solve the majority of problems with today’s kids.” Among the many questions I have for that reader, the first one is, “How young are we talking here?” Three months? Six months? In utero? However horrified I was, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, she could have just emerged from her cold war bomb shelter and not yet had the chance to get up to speed.

Aside from my purely emotional response stemming from my belief that it is never, ever, okay to hit a child – and that’s exactly the definition of spanking – research shows that spanking can be detrimental to a child. One of the articles I read cited five studies (www.lcc.ctc.edu) all concluding that parents should not spank. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “the more children are spanked, the more anger they report as adults … the more likely they are to approve of hitting a spouse. Spanking has been associated with higher rates of physical aggression, more substance abuse, and increased risk of crime and violence.”

According to Barbara Bennett, Marriage and Family Therapist, supporters of spanking are most likely to have been spanked themselves and are looking for retribution. Those who say they were spanked and turned out just fine, are fine in spite of being spanked and not because of it. She refers to this as “Destructive Entitlement,” which is a feeling of justification as in, “It was good enough for me so it will be good for you.” The truth is, spanking causes fear in children that, in turn, creates low self-esteem.  “Good parenting takes work but everyone wants a quick fix,” Bennett says. “Hitting is the easy way out.” 

Sue Schaefer is a student advocate, academic coach, and certified teacher. We encourage you to visit her website: Academic Coaching Associates. You may email Sue at susan.schaefer@academiccoachingct.com.

You can also follow Sue on twitter: @sueschaefer1

Barbara Schwarz Bennett December 04, 2011 at 11:24 PM
"Some parents, eager to justify their behavior, will argue: "You have a duty to grab a child who is about to do something dangerous-to touch the hot stove or run into a busy street- and deliver a good smack so that your warnings about life's dangers will be remembered." Were that argument valid, spankings would become increasingly infrequest as children learned their lessons. But that's not what usually happens. Spankings tend to escalate in frequency and severity as children grow, and spanked children tend to behave worse. In fact, being spanked throws children into a state of powerful confusion, making it difficult for them to learn the lessons adults claim they were trying to teach. Parents who deliver the so-called "good smack" are not teaching their children that hot stoves and busy streets are dangerous. They are teaching them that the grownups upon whom they depend are dangerous. That's a bad lesson." Taken from "Plain Talk About Spanking" 2011 Edition.
Barbara Schwarz Bennett December 04, 2011 at 11:47 PM
"The much-touted 'biblical argument' in support of corporal punishment is founded upon proof-texting a few isolated passages from Proverbs. Using the same method of selective scripture reading, one could also cite the Bible as an authority for the practice of slavery, adultery, polygamy, incest, suppression of women, executing people who eat pork, and infanticide. The brutal and vindictive practice of corporal punishment cannot be reconciled with the major New Testament themes that teach love and forgiveness and a respect for the sacredness and dignity of children-and which overwhelmingly reject violence and retribution as a means of solving human problems. Would Jesus ever hit a child? NEVER!" (The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Clergy, Hamilton, Indiana. Personal communication, 2006 as quoted in Plain Talk About Spanking)
Barbara Schwarz Bennett December 05, 2011 at 08:19 PM
"Defenders of spanking often argue that a caretaker's only choice is between spanking and doing nothing. That's a false choice. Permissiveness is as unwise and counterproductive as hitting. The wise caretaker establishes a safe environment with age-appropriate boundaries and reasonable rules, models called-for behaviors, and appeals to and cultivates the child's natural inclination toward imitation and cooperation. This method takes more skill and patience than hitting, but it works. It strengthens the bond of trust between parent and child, between teacher and learner, thus paving the way for the more challenging lessons ahead." (Plain Talk About Spanking)
Jim G. December 05, 2011 at 08:46 PM
This is a specious argument. I've never heard even the most ardent spanking proponent argue that it's "spanking or nothing," or even that spanking is appropriate for all levels of punishment/correction. There may well be - strike that, we know there are - lazy parents who can't be bothered to use any discipline tool besides ignoring the child and then whaling his backside. But that's NOT the as the first sentence of your quote, which is at best nonsense and at worst careless thinking and writing.
Heather Lovey December 11, 2011 at 02:39 PM
Christine, her comments on those comments were totally appropriate. Has nothing to do with thick skins, and if you had a thicker skin, wouldn't you use your first AND last name when you post your comments? Please do so.


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