Why Spanking Your Child is Wrong

How do you feel about spanking? Some people say that spanking is child abuse. Other people say that spanking is necessary. My parents spanked me and I turned out okay. Whether or not to spank their child is a tough call many new parents face when their angelic babies turn into limits-testing toddlers. While some parents don’t see a problem with giving their little ones a pat or smack on the bottom, others think spanking should be avoided.

To get some perspective on the spanking controversy, we asked two moms – and one expert who is also a mom – to tell us why they feel the way they do about spanking. Spanking is not only potentially harmful to both parent and child, they say, but it also just doesn’t work. While hitting provides a short-term fix, it creates long-term problems. Children who are spanked, these experts argue, are more likely to be aggressive, become withdrawn, or have behavior problems when they go to school. Repeatedly hitting a child with the intent of causing pain sounds like abuse to me. Hitting a child with belts or paddles could easily turn into abuse.

Discipline literally means to teach or instruct; usually referring to helping children learn self-direction and self-control. When parents speak of discipline, however, they often mean punishment – corporal punishment. More than 90 percent of parents report that they spank their children at least occasionally. Most parents were spanked when they were children. Spanking is often used to stop an undesirable behavior and hopefully to change future behavior.

Most studies have concluded that spanking, even when initially successful, decreases in effectiveness with subsequent use. It becomes less effective as children get older. Dealing with tantrums can feel bad, for everyone involved. Misbehavior in a public place is tough. Parenting with wisdom and control during such a time is tougher. Responding in a healthy way turns the situation around and takes us to a place where we feel like we did the right thing – and that really does feel good.

Is spanking really that bad? Yes it is – because violence really does breed violence and violence is a major problem in today’s society. We are not saying that hitting at home is the only cause of that violence, but we are saying that ending hitting at home would help to reduce it. Children model a lot of their behaviour on their parents. Parents who use physical punishment are directly teaching their children that physical force is an acceptable way to get what you want. If we want less violent adults we have to bring them up believing that physical force is not acceptable.

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