Spanking – Pros & Cons

To begin with, I think it’s important to understand that the word ‘spanking’ is a euphemism for violent behavior. Yes violence. That very thing many spankers will prevent their kids from seeing on TV. With all the fuss being made over the negative influence of children viewing abstract violence on video games, TV, and movies, one might get the impression that fantasy/abstract violence is worse for kids than experiencing the actual thing.

The easiest way to address this issue of spanking is to take a look at the ‘pros and cons’ involved.

PROS:

1. Spanking is expedient – it quickly delivers a powerful message in terms of behavior modification. Parents who lack the patience to teach through cognitive learning can use acts of physical aggression as a teaching method.

2. There’s no need to waste a lot of time with verbal communication. From our earliest days, primal grunts, gestures, and clubbings, have served us well.

3. Parents can release pent-up anger & frustration and not have to worry about physical retribution. This ‘venting’ of anger and frustration through spanking might be viewed by parents as therapeutic in the absence of a household pet to kick-around. (The problem here is that a recent study has found that aggressive behavior leads to increases in aggressive behavior rather than less*).

4. It gives parents a sense of tradition, not unlike shooting guns in the air on the 4th of July. A sense of nostalgia can also be provided, as parents are able to hark back to the good old days when they themselves were whacked around by parents who wanted to show how much they cared.

5. Parents who confuse fear with respect can feel a sense of accomplishment. Children cringing in fearful subservience serve to provide parents with a sense of power and control that they may find otherwise lacking in their lives.

6. Parents can feel they are preparing their kids for ‘that tough world out there’. The logic here assumes that the child may grow-up to one day find themselves in a job where the boss hits them when they make a mistake.

CONS:

1. Violence towards children causes a degree of trauma that carries with it a high risk in the development of psychopathology. The ranks of the mentally ill, substance addicted, violent criminals, and sexual deviates, are filled with individuals who were the victims of violent, but not necessarily legally abusive parents. *

2. Children learn to strikeout when their sensibilities are offended. It stands to reason that the best way to teach children how to be violent is to have them experience violence first-hand from the most influential teacher they’ll ever have. Not only does spanking make violence apart of a child’s reality, it can also provide a child with the anger to trigger violent behavior; because when parents fail to break the mind and spirit of a child through the ultimate act of rejection, anger is often the result.

3. The nurturing role of the parent is put at risk. If the parent does not compensate for the hateful acts of violence toward their children with copious amounts of love and caring, there exists a strong possibility of the children losing trust, and becoming alienated from the parent. As a result, offending behavior on the part of the children only increases, thereby turning the spankings into a totally counter-productive measure, and a continuing or escalating source of acrimony.

4. Spanking runs the risk of becoming criminal behavior. Parents who employ corporal punishment as a means of discipline take the risk of crossing the line into legal child-abuse when under high levels of stress. This is how most cases of child-abuse occur.

5. Children may one-day forget the trauma of the violence inflicted upon them, but they never forget the acts of violence. Parents who treat their children in a violent manner usually fail to consider that, in one way or another, there will be a heavy price to pay as a consequence. In the very least, violence will act to diminish the quality of any relationship.

6. Children learn to abstain from certain unacceptable behaviors so long as the parent is present. Some children will even find themselves more prone to these unacceptable behaviors in the absence of the parent through retribution or experiencing the ‘forbidden fruit is the sweetest’ phenomena. The reason? Through spanking, children become dependent on external controls (fear) for behavior rather than developing internal controls (self-discipline/conscience) through teaching with gentle, patient guidance.

7. It seems nothing more than common sense to submit that forms of sadomasochistic behavior can stem from childhood spankings. Because the buttocks are an erogenous zone pain can become associated with sexual stimulation through spankings. Pain, control, and dominance can also become associated with loving behavior as the result of corporal punishment, i. e. , ‘I hit you because I love you. ‘

8. This above mentioned convoluted definition of love can also set the stage for the child developing a tolerance for future abusive relationships. . . more commonly in the case of women.

9. Children who are not afforded dignity or treated in a respectful manner have a difficult time learning what those things are all about. Why else would so many children grow-up with the notion that dignity equates with demeanor and respect equates with fear. The following is an excellent explanation of how this occurs:

CHILDREN LEARN WHAT THEY LIVE

If a child

lives with criticism,

he learns to condemn.

If a child

lives with hostility,

he learns to fight.

If a child

lives with ridicule,

he learns to be shy.

If a child

lives with shame,

he learns to feel guilty.

If a child

lives with tolerance,

he learns to be patient.

If a child

lives with encouragement,

he learns confidence.

If a child

lives with praise,

he learns to appreciate.

If a child

lives with fairness,

he learns justice.

If a child

lives with security,

he learns to have faith.

If a child

lives with approval,

he learns to like himself.

If a child

lives with acceptance and friendship,

he learns to find love in the world.

Dorothy Law Nolte (1963*)

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As we evolve as a society we have to keep in mind that historically there was a time when it was acceptable to legally own other people; a time when the mentally ill were generally considered to be possessed by evil spirits; a time when gentlemen legally shot each other in duels; a time when public hangings were attended as a family outing complete with picnic basket; a time when public floggings were considered acceptable punishment; a time when it was a gentleman’s agreement that husbands should not beat theirwives with a switch that was ‘bigger-round than your thumb’ (which became known as ‘the rule of thumb’); and there was a time when there were no laws against parents severely beating their children (killing children was unacceptable, of course, but an occasional accidental maiming as a result of disciplinary measures was tolerated).

It’s not hard to see where I’m headed here. . . we no longer allow the punishment of flogging; we no longer allow wives to be hit; and we no longer allow prisoners to be struck as a routine punishment. The time has come for us to yet further our level of social sophistication by coming to a general agreement that any degree of physical punishment used against children is as socially unacceptable and repugnant as those other violent behaviors we have chosen to put behind us.

As you’ve seen, there are no actual ‘pros’ to spanking unless one is suffering an emotionally stunted authoritarian mind-set.



. by James C. Talbot