Spanking is the act of smacking the buttocks of a child with an opened hand. Some parents adopt this form of corporal punishment as a back up to non-physical discipline. The law should not ban the act of spanking a child in parenting because it is not a form of abuse. Parents should be free to spank their children appropriately, at the right time and for the right reasons, to create an understanding for what is acceptable and what is not. Definitely, spanking is an effective parenting tool.
On the other hand, many countries banned spanking because they believe it to be a form of physical abuse that could lead the child to develop psychological problems. In fact, Sweden was the first country to banish such act in 1979, and the European Committee has been trying to encourage the countries of the European Union to do the same. In 2007, New Zealand, Netherlands, Portugal, Uruguay, Venezuela, Spain and Chile approved laws that prohibit parents from punishing their children with spanking (Research Paper n. pag. ). Moreover, it looks like many other countries are considering banning spanking as an educational practice.
In contrast, 77% of Americans agree that it is sometime necessary to discipline their children with corporal punishment (Laird n. pag. ). There is a line that separates the act of spanking from what is physical abuse. Certainly, we cannot mix the two together. Matt Walsh states, “Spanking is not abuse, and abuse, no matter what else you call it, is not spanking. The two things are completely separate and distinct. Besides, to call spanking ‘violence’ is intentionally misleading. Even deceitful. Spanking, as opposed to beating or assaulting, does not injure, and it isn’t intended to abuse” (Walsh n. ag. ).
Therefore, it is not true that installing laws against spanking prevents abusive parents from using physical force on their children. In fact, abusive parents will remain abusive parents independently from a law, because behind a home’s closed door no law can protect a child from physical abuse. By all means, it is unconstitutional to deprive parents of the freedom to spank their children when appropriate, because parents need to teach to their children to distinguish what is right from what is wrong. Sometimes, simple warnings or non-physical punishments do not work.
Indeed, that is when spanking could be an alternative tool for parents. Certainly, a key point is to always explain to a child the reasons behind a spank. Furthermore, it is not accurate to state that spanking in parenting is related to a higher crime level or that children who are spanked easily develop mental problems. In fact, Marjorie Gunnoe, professor of psychology at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, conducted a study entailing 2,600 interviews pertaining corporal punishment, including the questioning of 179 teenagers about getting spanked by their parents.
She said, “The claims made for not spanking children fail to hold up. They are not consistent with the data” (qtd. in Kettle n. pag. ). Those who were physically disciplined performed better than those who weren’t in a whole series of categories, including school grades, an optimistic outlook on life, the willingness to perform volunteer work and the ambition to attend college. And they performed no worse than those who weren’t spanked in areas like early sexual activity, getting into fights and becoming depressed.
Gunnoe found little difference between the sexes and races. Even more, another study published in the Akron Law Review examined criminal records and found that children raised where a legal ban on parental corporal punishment is in effect are much more likely to be involved in a crime (Kettle n. pag. ). Sweden stands as an example that it wasn’t beneficial for the society to ban spanking in some countries. In addition, the study performed by Marjory Gunnoe is proof that individuals who were spanked by their parents have a brighter future in many areas of life.
Also, when parents are forced not to use such act of punishment, other forms of punishments may take place. For instance, yelling and screaming could influence negatively the psychological and emotional state of a child. Indeed, verbal abuse can be much worse than a simple spank in the buttocks. Furthermore, according to Howard Davidson, director of the ABA Center on Children and Law, States [in America] have different approaches to the issue. He says, “By far the most common approach, used in twenty-six states, says parents may use reasonable force if it is necessary to reasonably maintain discipline…
Other states… consider things like the age and size of the child” (qtd. in Laird n. page. ). For example, in Texas parents and guardians are allowed to use force to the degree they believe it’s necessary for discipline or promoting the child’s welfare (Laird n. pag. ). In other words, the decision on the matter is a community standard that can differ from place to place. For example, Pope Francis suggested it was ok for parents to discipline a disobedient child with a spank if dignity is maintained.
Moreover, many Americans agree with the Pope and support giving children the occasional “good, hard spanking,” as TIME highlighted in parenting feature The Discipline Wars (Worland n. pag. ). Additionally, Robert Larzelere of Oklahoma State University-Stillwater said, “… but for younger kids, if spanking is used in the most appropriate way and they perceive it as being motivated by concern for their behavior and welfare, then it does not have a detrimental effect” (qtd. in Michelle n. pag. ).
A 2005 scientific review he co-authored, of studies comparing spanking with non-physical discipline methods, identified an “optimal type of physical discipline,” referred to as conditional spanking, and said that when it was used as a backup to nonphysical discipline, it was better at reducing noncompliance and antisocial behavior (Michelle n. pag. ). Therefore, many teenagers would be more responsible and respectful had they been spanked when younger. Many adults would probably be more successful had they received a firmer education by their parents.
Contrarily, some researchers believe that children who are spanked may develop a violent behavior and may assume that adults are entitled to use violence. Elizabeth Gershoff, a developmental psychologist at the University of Texas in Austin, said that multiple studies have concluded that such punishment doesn’t create a short-term compliance or help children learn right from wrong in the long-term. Furthermore, she said that spanking is correlated with increased antisocial behavior, more mental health problems and less self-regulation (Laird n. pag. ).
If such studies were accurate, there would definitely be an vement in children’s behavior in the countries where the law banned spanking. Instead, such improvement never occurred. In fact, Sweden is a clear example of the opposite. In conclusion, spanking is an ancient act used by parents of many races and ethnicity, and depriving parents of the freedom to establish discipline in their children, by comparing a spank to physical abuse, is erroneous. Indeed, a good old spank in the buttocks can certainly prove a point when a child misbehaves. After all, even the famous idiom says short-time pain for longterm gain.