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The Debate: Should Governments Stop Spanking?

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes spanking children. But what happens if all discipline techniques don't work and a parent spanks his or her child? Should governments punish parents? Should they have the right to decide how parents deal with problem behavior?

That's the question that's been hotly debated in New Zealand this week, where hundreds of protesters are demanding that the government stay out of their homes. Meanwhile, another bill against spanking -- dubbed one of the "nanny bills" in California -- got watered down last month after it's main proponent, Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, couldn't garner support for it.

What was most intriguing about the debate in New Zealand were quotes from parents in earlier versions of the Associated Press story who said that they were protesting not because they used or believed in corporal punishment, but because it was their choice to make. In other words: Our homes belong to us!

Would you support legislation to ban spanking or would you fight it?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 29, 2007; 10:30 PM ET  | Category:  The Debate
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Comments


I think we should have a better system for reporting and evaluating parents, as well as raising healthier children who will themselves become more capable parents.

But having specific rules on physical contact with children to this extreme? Wrong energy in the wrong directions.

Posted by: Liz D | March 29, 2007 10:51 PM | Report abuse

It is absurd to say that governments should not regulate how parents parent their children. They already do and they have for decades and decades, and no one has complained about it.

If a government can step in and remove a child from a home when he child is abused for any reason at all, we are merely quibbling over the line at which poor parenting becomes abusive parenting.

If you intentioanlly burn your child, you have abused your child. That much is clear.

If you use degrading language against your child, calling him or her a "loser" or swearing at your child with clearly offensive language and so on, even that is governed and can be grounds for removing a child from your care.

So, if causing physical harm to a child or causing mental harm to a child are both grounds for removing a child from a parent's care, then why not spanking too?

There is not a shred of scientific evidence that says spanking is good parenting, that it stops bad behaviour, that it does what a parent says a parent is inflicting the spanking for wants to see done.

Spanking humiliates a child, causes physical pain, and teaches a child that when you are really angry, when you aren't getting what you want, you should inflict pain on some target of your own frustration. Is that what you want a child to learn?

Spanking is child abuse. It does no good. It does plenty of bad. And, like any other form of phsyical or mental cruelty, it should be regulated for the sake of the child, who cannot himself or herself regulate his or her environment.

BCP

Posted by: BCP | March 30, 2007 6:29 AM | Report abuse

BCP, well said! I couldn't agree more. Why should it be illegal for anyone else to hit my children but perfectly reasonable for me or my husband to do so? I'd support this legislation.

Posted by: This Mama | March 30, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

All of the arguments in support of spanking children have been used in support of men hitting their wives.

Posted by: DZ | March 30, 2007 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I'm torn. I don't believe in spanking children (for reasons already stated).

However, how exactly would this legislation be enforced? Cameras in the home? Reports by neighbors? I can see enforcement only occurring in the most extreme cases (child abuse, where there is tangible evidence of violence). And, we already have laws against that. . . .

I'm not saying that the intent is no worthwhile. It is. But, it also seems somewhat pointless when you consider the enforcement issues.

Posted by: JS | March 30, 2007 8:13 AM | Report abuse

"I'm not saying that the intent is no worthwhile. It is. But, it also seems somewhat pointless when you consider the enforcement issues."

The law might be powerfully symbolic in the culture.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 8:22 AM | Report abuse

We have 8 children and we believe that spanking is useful when the child has done something repeatedly that could really hurt them - like running into the street - this is useful particularly before the child can really understand that getting hit by a car hurts. They can associate running into the street with a whack on the butt and determine that running into the street hurts. It seems to have worked so far. Our kids are doing great.

Posted by: pfk | March 30, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

One of my children was an all-state ballplayer, two were high school valedictorians, one a salutatorian, all five are graduates of selective private universities, have lives and, now between the ages of thirty and forty, are real contributors to their communities. Please give me the name of the bureaucrat or peace officer who should have been helping out all those years when their Mother and I were raising them

Posted by: John S | March 30, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

We have never spanked our child. That being said, the truth is that government does nothing well except steal money.
I want them telling me what to do almost as much as I'd like a second circumcision without an anesthetic.

Posted by: mike | March 30, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

A proper spanking does not cause a child any physical harm and isn't child abuse. Children aren't rational creatures. You can't always explain consequences to them and expect them to start behaving nicely. In some situations children are compelled to do things that could cause them great harm or kill them like touch a stove or run into the street. Isn't it kinder in a situation like this to give the child an effect like a pop on the butt that teaches them not to engage in the dangerous behavior than it is to let them continue to strive to hurt themselves?

Spanking shouldn't be done in anger and it shouldn't be done to excess. It should be a rare and calmly applied punishment that asserts for the child that they are not in charge of their world.

There is no one way to raise a child and no parent starts out as an expert on child rearing. Each family must find what works for them. The government should not pass blindly sweeping legistlation like this. It will be abused for bitter custody battles. It won't stop abusive parents from hurting their children and it's going to make life harder for concientious parents. Public attitudes against spanking have already made life harder for the whole of society as children are increasingly bold and sassy in situations where they should not be.

Posted by: Johnny Spanksalot | March 30, 2007 8:29 AM | Report abuse

My wife/elderly mother has a real stubborn streak and refuses to obey. I believe that spanking is useful when my wife/elderly mother has done something repeatedly that could really hurt her - like running into the street - this is useful particularly before my wife/elderly mother can really understand that getting hit by a car hurts. She can associate running into the street with a whack on the butt and determine that running into the street hurts. It seems to have worked so far. My wife/elderly mother is doing great.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Spanking humiliates a child, causes physical pain, and teaches a child that when you are really angry, when you aren't getting what you want, you should inflict pain on some target of your own frustration."

But then what happens when people decide that "time-out" humiliates a child? When being told "no" humiliates a child? (A friend told me she was at the playground and told two boys no, don't do that, and the other parent actually said "we don't use that word" meaning "no". How can you possibly parent without using the word "no"?)

Shame is one of the oldest methods of human behaviour control - and it works. So on some level, you want your child to be ashamed of being punished, it means that are likely not to do that behaviour again.

I'm not really a fan of spanking, I'm just pointing out that the argument, taken to it's furthest conclusion, rules out all punishment.

And spanking, done correctly, is not simply hitting a child out of anger and frustration. It is a ritual, done calmly, such that the anticipation of the event is much worse than the actual physcial pain (which should be minimal). I admit that many people do not use spanking this way.

But do we really want to regulate every little thing? Should we regulate how long time outs can be? Or whether you can withhold dessert, or send a kid to bed early? Shouldn't we let parents figure out what works best with their own kids?

Posted by: Kathrina | March 30, 2007 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I think it's typical of liberals to decide that only they know what constitutes abusive behavior and that they should be the moral arbiters of society. Why are they always pushing their amoral agenda on the rest of us?

I think having your boyfriend sleep over when your pre-teen and teenaged children are living in your house is much more abusive than spanking your children. I think there should be a law mandating that divorced parents of underaged children should not date.

I think dressing your child like a little tart is abusive. I think the state of California should mandate a law determining how parents can dress their children.

I think having the television on all day long is abusive and the state of California should have a law mandating how much television can be watched in homes where there are young children.

I think taking your children to Disneyland and making them stand in long lines in hot weather is also abusive -- and there should be a law against that too.

Posted by: Makes you wonder | March 30, 2007 8:42 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I do not believe in spanking as a good form of punishment simply because we are against the use of violence in any form as punishment (whether mild like spanking or more serious). It's simply a principle issue for us.

Now, as to whether the government bans it or not, I couldn't care less because, as someone has pointed out, this will be difficult-to-impossible to enforce. Most likely, it will be treated as so many laws are treated, like jaywalking. Sure, it's against the law, but everyone does it and rarely is it ever ticketed. Usually, it's only ticketed when someone crosses the road in a very busy city, disrupting traffic and creating serious hazards -- i.e. under extreme conditions. And even then, it's still rarely ticketed.

Anyway, that's just my guess, but I also doubt that any law banning spanking will ever be passed in this country.

Posted by: Ryan | March 30, 2007 8:44 AM | Report abuse

I would oppose it. As the posts above make clear, there are a variety of opinions on this. There is, however, a clear difference between spanking as it is generally understood, and beating a child - both in how it is done, and in when and why it is done. Child abuse can still be aggressively prosecuted without making spanking illegal.

Posted by: Older Dad | March 30, 2007 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I think washington post should have an anonymous survey to see how many parents have spanked their child atleast once and what their child's accomplishments are, older parents who have grown up children would be valuable participants in this survey. They can tell us where their kids are right now. Were their kids emotionally destroyed because of a spank (And I am not talking about beating a child senselessly, that is child abuse)? Another survey should look at adults who were spanked and where they are in life. Are they an emotinal wreck or did it teach them there are punishments for bad behavior?

Posted by: Ann | March 30, 2007 9:07 AM | Report abuse

>>My wife/elderly mother has a real stubborn streak and refuses to obey. I believe that spanking is useful when my wife/elderly mother has done something repeatedly that could really hurt her (etc.)

This is a specious argument. Put simply, children are not adults.

When a man forbids his wife to dress a certain way, associate with certain people, or stay out past a certain time, we call him controlling and abusive.

When a mom enforces those very same rules with a child, we call her a parent.

If spanking goes so far as to qualify as child abuse, then it's already an illegal act. I fail to see a compelling reason for the law to be extended down to the minutiae of something as mild as a swat on the (clothed) bottom.

Against spanking? Don't spank your kids. Easy as that.

Posted by: Divine Ms. K | March 30, 2007 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Come off it. DId any of you think that if spanking was used more that we would have out of control youth like we have today? I was spanked. How many of you were spanked? How many times, as a kid, did you think "If I do this I'm gonna get a whoppin' by Pop" and then didn't do it? I have used a one swat open handed spank in 5 years. Does that mean I abused my child? It got their attention and to be honest I'm not sure it even hurt them more than it hurt me.

Maybe discipline is what todays youth needs. I can remeber getting paddled in elementary school. A whack was explained on the "discipline board" and how many you got was based on what you did wrong. Did I mess up in school? A few times but I didn't try to like kids today because I knew I had the chance of getting a whack or two. What do they do to kids today? Suspend them? Give them a free vacation while the parents have to figure out what to do with little Bobby while they work?

Get off your high horse and understand the difference between a whack or two on the butt is different than a smack across the mouth by an abusive husband/wife...yes, I said abusive WIFE as well, it does happen more than people like to admit.

Posted by: Sterling Park | March 30, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I too believe that allowing children to watch tv is abusive. Television causes ADHD and obesity and also makes children stupid, as well as encouraging violence. Since it is difficult to regulate how much and what tv children watch, I believe there should be a law that parents with children should not be allowed to have televisions in their homes.

Posted by: m | March 30, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

We used spanking infrequently when our children were small, usually smack a hand away from the hot stove thing. When they were a little older, we used time outs, so we could both calm down. Push ups were meted out when they were disrespectful. My 3 kids are all honors students, the 2 in college with full scholarships, and they all do great push ups!

Posted by: Sparks | March 30, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Your "wife/elderly mother" should be institutionalized. Her behavior is typical of a two year old who is only going through a biref albeit dangerous stage in his or her life. But your "wife/elderly mother" is obvioulsy insane and is a danger to herself and others. If you truley loved your "wife/elderly mother" you wouldn't treat her as is typical of a parent of a todler (i.e., giving them a swap on the bottom when he or she odes something that could really hurt them) but instead you should keep them away interly away from such dangerous situations. A toddler will grow out of it-- your "wife/elderly mother" will not grow out of this without some serious professional help. That's the difference and it is a pretty signifigant one and your arguemtn otherwise doesn't hold water.

Posted by: Jen | March 30, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

We clearly need anti-spanking laws. State child welfare agencies are well known to be flush with money and time. Without regulating spanking, social workers will have little to do but twiddle their thumbs, leading to repetitive motion disorder and civil suits against the state.

Let's also mandate the amount of "quality time" parents must spend with their children and the number of fresh vegetables children must eat weekly. Let's make laws about anything else dogmatic, know-it-all, scientific-study-referencing, holier-than-thou parents want to impose on all other parents.

Posted by: Draper | March 30, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

As a child I was spanked (though rarely), and am now a very successful lawyer. I vowed that I would never spank my child... and then I had one.

Spanking my son is hard. It is my means of last resort, when all else has failed, and frankly when he has repeatedly refused to alter his behavior to conform with the rules of the house or at school. And because it is so rarely inflicted, it is actually very effective. But believe me, when its over, I guarantee that I feel worse than he does.

Maybe some children are so good that they don't ever push things so far that a spanking would be called for and other punishments work--I am very happy for those parents. But ultimately, the issue is not whether spanking is right or wrong, the issue is whether parents should have the option. And obviously from some previous posts, even without a law making it illegal, many parents chose not to spank anyway. It's a matter of choice.

Take away a critical tool for parents that (I don't care what your study says) DOES work? Fine, as long as you also refrain from asking "where were his/her parents?" when they end up on drugs, drop out of school, or become criminals.

Posted by: I Spank | March 30, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I'll have to agree with Johnny Spanksalot. Discipline and abuse are two entirely different things. Sometimes kids need a spanking to get their attention. Continuous disobeying and temper tantrums are a sign they have behaviour problems. My mother used to whip the daylights out of us for minor infractions. Once she beat the crap out of me because I was afraid to get a polio shot. Remember them? A series of three before they developed the Sabin vaccine on a sugar cube. Wussies! I grew up scared to death of my mother and nobody ever complained that my siblings and I were disruptive, rude, and spoiled brats. Sure, give them a swat once in a while. I repeat -- Discipline and abuse are two entirely different things. Burning, choking and broken bones are signs of abuse. Courteous and polite children are the signs of discipline.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Show me a child who doesn't have a healthy fear of parental consequences and I'll show you a spoiled brat. Those consequences should be meted out with love and the desire to teach. The government needs to stay out of our business; as a previous poster put it; child abuse is already against the law and spanking is not child abuse.

Posted by: heresathought | March 30, 2007 9:43 AM | Report abuse

This Mama,

It is illegal for other people to spank your child but not for you and your husband to do so because the law properly reserves certain privileges for those charged with the ownership or control of people and objects.

It is OK for you to drive your car but not for strangers to do so not because driving a car is inherently bad but because driving your car is a privilege that belongs only to you. Society allows teachers to punish children but doesn't let fellow supermarket shoppers do so because teachers are responsible for the disciplining of children but the guy in the produce aisle isn't. Police officers can get a warrant and search private homes. Plumbers can't because they are not responsible for law enforcement.

There are plenty of examples of the law allowing some people to perform certain actions while forbidding others to do so. Just because everyone isn't permitted to do something doesn't make the action itself bad or something no one should ever do.

Posted by: Draper | March 30, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"Get off your high horse and understand the difference between a whack or two on the butt is different than a smack across the mouth by an abusive husband/wife...yes, I said abusive WIFE as well, it does happen more than people like to admit. "

What is the difference?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Every study that has ever been done on how spanking affects children has concluded that the damage caused by it far outweight the behavioral benefits.

From a moral viewpoint, how on earth can it be illegal for me to strike my dog or spouse but not my defenseless child?

Federal law prevents our soldiers from striking the terrorists held at Guantanamo, but here in Indiana the only sentence regarding corporal punishment reads "The state of Indiana recognizes no limit to the right of a parent or legal guardian to use reasonable corporal punishment."

Note the words "no limit". To seek clarification I looked up the guidelines on the Departement of Family and Social Welfare web page. Rather than state a maximum of punishment that beyond which would be prosecuted I found the opposite:

"Red stripes and marks on the buttocks of a 10 year old would be considered minor damage." They actually only gave a minimum that would not be prosecuted.

When my younger son was around 3 - 5 he demonstrated significant aggression toward his classmates / playmates. So much so that he was kicked out of a parochial pre-school and qualified for the Federal Head Start Program.

Not knowing what to do, I spanked him twice in an attempt to get him to stop hitting the other children. However, after the second time he went up to his room and hid under the covers. Seeing him reminded me of exactly how I felt when I was his age.

I made a commitment then and there not to spank him anymore, apologizing to him and promising him I wouldn't.

We found out some years later that an older woman who had been babysitting him as a toddler had been spanking him against our wishes. The aggression he was demonstrating at such a young age finally made sense.

Spanking causes far more problems than it solves.

Posted by: Neal Jettpace | March 30, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

It is utterly absurd that we allow spanking of children. There is never an excuse for an adult to strike a child. Never! It is always done as a result of frustration, anger, and vengeance, and never about merely "correcting" behavior. There is no greater betrayal than when an adult lashes out at a child, whether physical, emotional, or sexual, it is always detrimental. Moreover, it sends a very clear message that violence is acceptable in certain "approved" circumstances. That might be fine if parents were perfect people truly capable of divorcing their emotions from their behavior, but that would only be possible if they were cyborgs. And that hackneyed chestnut that goes something like, "My parents beat the hell out of me and look how good I turned out," sets a very low bar. As a society and culture we can do far, far better than that.

On a personal note, I raised four children without ever striking any of them at any time, and they are all successful professionals with families of their own. And guess what? None of them has ever struck any of my nine grandchildren. When you raise your family with coping skills that do not include violence, it gets passed on to subsequent generations. Sure, it's a lot more challenging to find non-violent ways of disciplining children and helping them learn appropriate behavior but it pays off in the long run. There is no substitute for honest, effective communication. And the old adage about violence begetting violence couldn't be any truer.

Posted by: Bill | March 30, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

God, I can see we're going to have a whole day of "I was spanked and I'm just fine!" kind of arguments. This is silly and pointless. There's rarely a one-to-one relationship between specific incidents as children and one's success as an adult.

There are plenty of people who have suffered tremendously as children and yet succeeded as adults. I'm not trying to argue that spanking means you suffered tremendously. I just want people to stop making the stupid argument: "Since I was spanked and I turned out fine, nothing's wrong with spanking."

If you believe there's nothing wrong with spanking, then you should have a principled argument to back it up. That's all.

Posted by: Ryan | March 30, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

What is all this crap about kids needing to be spanked for their own good, because they might hurt themselves! What a load of garbage. Parents spank their kids because they're at wits end, not becuase it's for the child's own good. If a child runs out in the street does it make sense to hit the child? Is the child supposed to associate pain with safety? That's so twisted and bizarre, it's not even worth arguing.

Posted by: Sandy Green | March 30, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Or, better yet, look at your argument this way. Since you turned out fine, this would preclude the possibility that your parents ever did ANYTHING wrong in their parenting of you.

Perhaps you do believe your parents were perfect, but I doubt it. I know that my mother made mistakes (I mean, she is human), yet I'm successful. Clearly, saying that turned out just fine is a stupid argument to justify every act of parenting done by your parents.

Just find a better argument to support your position.

Posted by: Ryan | March 30, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

To everyone who is commenting that it doesn't matter if the there is a law against spanking because it will not be enforced are not thinking of the most likely reason parents will be prosecuted for this. If spanking is illegal as a form of child abuse, everybody at your child's school will be required to report any spanking to authorities. If your child mentions to a teacher that they were spanked for any reason, or if a teacher happens to overhear your child telling a friend about a spanking punishment, or possibly even a fear of being spanked for doing something wrong, that parent could be in some VERY hot water. I do not beleive in spanking, but I do not think it is necessarily child abuse, and I think a law like this could cause more harm than good.

Posted by: No kids yet | March 30, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Good parenting is not easy. It is a lot of work. Go ahead, make it easier by letting the parents off the hook. They don't have to discipline their kids because some and the government say they shouldn't. Spanking isn't illegal now and see how many parents let their kids run wild. The greatest experiment in history has been done. Boomers and their parents and forebears were spanked and some beaten and look at what we got and where we are in history. We have accomplished a lot. If spanking caused anti social behavior, all the Boomers and their parents would be sociopaths. Leave parenting to the parents. Ask Barbara Bush.

Posted by: Karl Lingenfelder | March 30, 2007 9:59 AM | Report abuse

As anyone reading this thread can see we all have opinions and different parenting ideas. That is because we are individuals with our own moral boundaries. All parents that have been to the playground, a play date, held a birthday party with our children's friends know every child is different and we have all at one time or another said "If that were my child, I would....".

Case in point, not allowing television in the home. Why would we want our children to see things like the news, Discovery Channel, the History Channel, Sesame Street? These programs clearly cause AHDD and obesity. It is not a chemical thing or in anyway related to fast food. See another opinion.

What works for one child might not work for the other. As any parent who has multiple kids and they will agree. The Government should not dictate how we raise our children. I do believe there should be more parenting programs available through the schools. A once or twice a month parenting class at each stage of education (elementary, junior high & high school) would be a good start. Kids don't come with manuals and being able to bounce ideas off of each other and sometimes just knowing you are not going it alone behind the walls of your home also helps.

In my humble opinion, that would be money better spent. I have to ask the parents out there (not folks who don't have children and treat their dogs as children) what is your first response when someone tells you how you should parent after only seeing one minute, hour, day out of your life with your child?

Posted by: Left Wondering | March 30, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

When your child first says, "No!" it is time for celebration, not punishment. From the moment they are born a child is learning to explore the possibilities of life, become increasingly independent, to revel in their autonomy, and to bask in the glory of aliveness. To many parents, "No!" is a threat to their power and authority and they are inclined to lash back out at their child. It would be far better if that parent sought out appropriate help to deal with their own insecurities and low self-esteem rather than take it out on a defenseless child. Nothing sickens me more than seeing a parent hit a child. It's a very slippery slope that often gets out of control. It should be criminalized, and the same mechanisms currently in place to report and deal with abusive parents can be utilized to notify authorities.

Posted by: Lisa | March 30, 2007 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I was in the grocery store last year and saw a woman slap her child in the face. I didn't know what happened but as the little girl screamed in terror no one dared to intervene. It's sad that we live in a country where people don't want to get involved when parents abuse their children. If that's how she was in public, imagine what was going on behind closed doors. There's someone who would be on the side of right-to-spankers.

Posted by: Larry M | March 30, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

* The Debate: Should Governments Stop Spanking? * If you want spoilt brats as Presidents, ban spanking...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

The most amusing aspect of the dead California legislation is that the fruitcake who introduced it has no children :)

My daughter is far too young to be spanked, but it's an option I'll leave on the table in case it's necessary. I was only spanked once in my life, by a friend's mom when I was in Europe. A local friend and I were throwing our shoes out the windows of the building where she lived: her mom caught us and spanked us. That was one of the only times I was ever spanked, and boy, do I remember it! I never threw shoes out a window again.

My mother, bless her heart, loved me to death as a child and couldn't see to spank me, no matter how strong-willed I could be. So she gave me time-outs and the like - which never really worked, since I'd end up playing with my fingers and making up little games for myself. She's not some wishy-washy do-gooder either - she's a pretty hard patootie!! But honestly, I think a spanking or two would have done me some good and saved me the difficulty of the much harder task of teaching myself discipline as an adult.

Posted by: StudentMom | March 30, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Ok...several quick points before I comment on legislating parental behavior in this way.

First of all, the only time that "all discipline techniques don't work" is when folks are only working from a very limited range of strategies and ideas. As a behavioral clinician, I work with children to include those with some of the most severe disruptive, destructive, and aggressive behavioral patterns with which most people will never have to deal.

In over 25 years of such work, I have been consistently successful in helping parents and teachers very effectively support and care for such children but NEVER had to resort to any kind of corporal punishment (or use of food, for that matter). Spanking and corporal punishment is never necessary and is only an alternative for those who simply do not know what else to do.

That said...I am also not a supporter of 'legislating' parental use of spanking. It is wrong to presume to 'criminalize' every action with which we don't agree. Such legislation is also not even remotely supportive of the needs, rights, or realities of families. There are already adequate laws available to identify when corporal punishment becomes child abuse. It is the laws on child abuse to include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, which must be clarified, strengthened, and consistently enforced. Criminalizing parental frustration by itself is simply illogical.

At the same time, there are many, many families who truly need help and professional support in their own efforts to care for sometimes disruptive and consistently very challenging children. As opposed to generating legislation which will principally make these parents more guilt ridden and disempowered in front of their own children, I would offer other recommendations for law makers.

Legislation might be considered which would strengthen and professionalize day care in this country. Families should have a right to competent, safe day, and secure day care by providers with professional training and knowledge of services to even more challenging children. It is inexcusable that day care providers have been 'expelling' preschoolers at increased rates across this country for 'problem behavior.' This is a professional crisis within the provision of day care rather than that of the children. Such services could actually help to reduce family stress leading to spanking.

Legislation might be considered to help schools better support the needs of children with emotional and behavioral needs with regards to professional training and funding for schools to seek better targeted resources. Too many schools shift blame and responsibility for inadequate school based programs, instructional practices, and teacher training back to families and may even encourage the use of medications when these are patently not needed. This school behavior, when it occurs, also increases parental stress and, probably, the likelihood of corporal punishment

The American Academy of Pediatrics must recognize that many of their pediatric practitioners need a great deal of additional training and supervision with regards to helping children with significant emotional and behavioral needs and their families. The broad use of the powerful medications too often prescribed by Pediatricians who may have taken their 'training' in that venue from a pharmaceutical company brochure is inexcusable.

The AAP must recognize this as a serious need and encourage their members to, first, take real training in this area, and, second, to refer families to clinical specialists trained in behavioral and family based interventions which are NOT based in the rampant use of off use medications. Medication use and misguided advice about the etiology and treatment of perceived emotional and behavioral need in children also likely contributes to parent frustration and the use of corporal punishment.

Posted by: Dr. Lou | March 30, 2007 10:08 AM | Report abuse

"My wife/elderly mother has a real stubborn streak and refuses to obey. "
Posted by: | March 30, 2007 08:34 AM

Well, maybe you shouldn't have married your elderly mother. Where on earth is that allowed, anyway? Oh yeah, West Virginia.

At any rate, making spanking illegal would be counterproductive. Even if you don't believe in spanking, what good would making it illegal do?

Would you take the spanked child away from his parents? Put his parents in jail? Put the kid in foster care? Would that be better for the kid?

Really, the damage caused by having a sore bottom for half an hour is peanuts to the damage caused by ripping families apart for no reason. Even if you don't like spanking, as a practical matter it would be counterproductive to outlaw the practice.

Posted by: Bob | March 30, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I don't know. I'm one of those people who has always said "I'll never spank my kids." But then I remember getting swatted a few times, as a toddler, for doing really dangerous things (running into the street, trying to touch the stove) and really don't think I'm the worse for it. I guess I really don't think it's government's place.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Larry M, did you intervene? If not, why not?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I have never understood the human capacity for cruelty. Sometimes it's openly sanctioned by the powers that be, such as Americans torturing prisoners or inmates being tortured by guards during confinement in American prisons, and sometimes it's inflicted on children in their own homes - which should be a safe haven for them. As someone said in a previous post, in all cases it's about vengeance and retribution. Anyone who thinks it's about behavior modification is fooling themselves.

Posted by: George K | March 30, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Absolutely do not let the government into this situation! It's should be the parents' choice.

Posted by: Barbara | March 30, 2007 10:20 AM | Report abuse

>
It taught *my* child not to run out in the street. I have a 3 1/2 year old daughter. Spanking is VERY effective for toddlers as they don't have much of a higher rational thinking. So if my daughter thinks, if she runs out in the street, mommy will spank her, and she reconsiders it, it works. Until she gets older and can rationalize reasonings and understand right from wrong, I will stick with spanking at this age. When she reaches the age of 5, I will use less spanking as a disciplinary tool since at that age, children have more rational thinking.

Posted by: DCMom | March 30, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I tried to intervene. I gently asked the woman if she was okay and she turned on me with a torrent of swear words. I looked around for help and everyone was going about their business as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile the little girl was leaning back and trying to get away from her mother. I feel bad but I didn't do anything else. What could I do? It was heartbreaking. I feel choked up just remembering it. The child was terrified of her own mother and I couldn't help wondering how things were going to turn out for her. Very sad.

Posted by: Larry M | March 30, 2007 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"There is not a shred of scientific evidence that says spanking is good parenting, that it stops bad behaviour, that it does what a parent says a parent is inflicting the spanking for wants to see done."
-There's no a shred of scientific evidence that can/have *prove* that spanking is detremental to children. Can you post some hardcore evidence? And I don't mean mounting evidence as that is NOT the same thing as hardcore scientific evidence.
Spanking stops my child's bad behavior so for us, it works.

Posted by: DCMom | March 30, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

To Dr. Lou,

Word!

Posted by: m | March 30, 2007 10:27 AM | Report abuse

DCMOM:
You are whacked! Sounds like you spank as often as most people brush their teeth. Has it ever occurred to you to try some other form of punishment? And what's up with all these stories of kids running into the street? Like that's the only time you spank your kid, is to save their life? Yeah, sure. Let's get real people.

Posted by: Cindy | March 30, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

StudentMom: Are you implying people who don't have children are fruitcakes? Or only the ones from California -- da land of da fruits and da nuts according to Archie Bunker. People who don't have children are the smartest, actually.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

What's every one so uptight about. Spanking works until the kid is about 10 or maybe 12. My father got spanked. He spanked me. I spanked my sons and I hope they will spank to. It's the only way to make sure kids tow the line. It is a necesary evil.

Posted by: Damon | March 30, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

There is a huge difference in spanking and child abuse. When spanking a child was not considered child abuse, there were no talk shows entitled, "I am afraid of my child, please help me". A parent should be able to spank their child or later for it to be lawful for a police officer to beat him with a billy club. As old as the Bible is, "spare the rod, spoil the child". I was spanked, deserved it and the better for it. The government has many more important issues to monitor than a parent selecting how to raise his or her children.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

DCMom

"Spanking stops my child's bad behavior so for us, it works."

Starving stops my child's bad behavior so for us, it works.


What do you and your husband do to stop each others' bad behavior?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:37 AM | Report abuse

To anon @ 10:30 AM: No, I'm not implying that people who don't have children are fruitcakes. I'm flat-out saying that people who do not have children yet want to legislate spanking are fruitcakes. Finding it very hard to disagree with Archie Bunker on that point, btw :)

Posted by: StudentMom | March 30, 2007 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I was spanked and loved it. I spank my wife and she loves it. She spanks me and I still love it. S&M is better taught when children are young so they can perfect their skills and be prepared to carry on a healthy spanking relationship with their partner.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Damon

"It's the only way to make sure kids tow the line"

It's the only way YOU know how to make sure kids toe the line? What was your wife's take on this?

Not much of an argument.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

To me, spankng seems like an absurd way to discipline kids. If it's done in anger, all it teaches is that (1) Mommy or Daddy can't control themselves, and (2) it's ok to use violence when you can't what you want. As a planned, "calm" punishment, it's even stranger -- in the time between the infraction and the planned violence, can't you think of another way to change the child's behavior.

As far as those "I turned out just fine" arguments, I was hit as a child, and I can assure you that neither I nor my sibs turned out "just fine." I remember feeling absolute contempt for my mother when I was a teenager because she'd hit us when she got mad. Now, hitting isn't the only bad thing she did, but it's one of the reasons none of us are close with mom these days.

That all said, I don't think this legislation is a good idea. As so many have stated, it would be impossible to enforce, and I for one am not willing to allow the government into my home.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 30, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

To all those "I was spanked as child and I am fine now, so I'm gonna spank my kids too" parents out there:

You are not fine! You have grown up to be a spanker.

Look at yourself: you have stooped so low as to take a child -- your own flesh and blood -- a child who may be a fifth of your size and physical strength, a child who totally depends on you for physical and emotional sustenance and who is legally subjugated to you, and you have abused all these physical, emotional and legal advantages you have over that child and hit him.

That's what being spanked as a child has turned you into.

Posted by: My name is Joe | March 30, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

"I believe that spanking is useful when my wife/elderly mother has done something repeatedly that could really hurt her"

I think spanking is the least of your problems. Incest is illegal and apparently you have married your elderly mother.

Posted by: BF | March 30, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"I believe that spanking is useful when my wife/elderly mother has done something repeatedly that could really hurt her"

I think spanking is the least of your problems. Incest is illegal and apparently you have married your elderly mother.

Posted by: BF | March 30, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

"I was spanked and loved it. I spank my wife and she loves it. She spanks me and I still love it. S&M is better taught when children are young so they can perfect their skills and be prepared to carry on a healthy spanking relationship with their partner."

And your mother breast fed you until you were 8 years old!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

What's the big deal? I was a youngin' in the early 80's and back then paddling was allowed in my elementary and middle school in Western PA. While my parents never spanked me, certain teachers had paddles that they would give names to, like "True Blue", and you knew up front not to clown around in their classes when you were in school. They were more of an intimidation tactic, and were rarely actually used, but when they were you knew you did something wrong and being made an example of squashed that behavior real quick. I can only remember getting paddled twice, and both times I deserved it - while it may have stung a little, it was more the embarrassment in front of classmates/public shaming that made it effective.

I think that is what kids lack these days -the sense of shame. That is why you have kids running wild, cursing, disrespecting teachers, and acting like thugs in public places like the metro - noone has ever instilled the sense of shame in acting like that. If I got spanked in school, or ever got in trouble with someone in authority, my parents never coddled me and made me think those people were wrong - the lesson was, you are expected to behave a certain way when you are not at home, and when you don't you have to live with the consequences of breaking the rules that those people have set.

A relative of mine is a teacher near Pittsburgh, and it's sad because we hear stories of kids that openly curse and are generally disrespectful towards him and other teachers - that never would have flown when I was growing up but there's nothing he can do but send them to the principal, which is a joke amongst the students and has almost no deterring effect.

A little sting on the ass isn't going to kill you - and it might actually help. I turned out just fine, and have no ill will toward anyone that paddled me. I don't understand parents that get all up in arms about someone else punishing their kids - when they learn that it's wrong for anyone but their parents to discipline them, you end up with a bunch of self-entitled brats.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Who is the guy who attacks me and don't even leave a name? I am trying to give my side to the story and people like you want to dive bom on my life. All I am saying is spanking does work in my family because of the way we have things set up. It was given to us by our elders and we have learned that it works. I am not some kind of evil person. I got to church every Sunday and also help with things the rest of the week. And also I work 60 hours a week and pay for my family. Please don't make me out to be a bad man just because my family uses spanking. Every one has to make there own choice about this and it should never be aganst the law for people to do what they believe is right. Our minister will back us up on this 100%.

Posted by: Damon | March 30, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Really, let's have a little more moderation today. Spanking your toddler infrequently is not going to make him/her into a serial killer; it is a valuable disciplinary technique for some children.

I was spanked once in a while as a child, but I had my mouth washed out with soap for being disrespectful much more often. Did I learn to speak to my parents respectfully? Yes! Now I am an adult, I have a great relationship with my parents, and I respect them for raising me with rules and boundaries and helping me to succeed.

My partner's step-father, on the other hand, regularly beat the crap out of him without provocation from ages 8 to 14, when my partner could finally fight back. That is child abuse; what my parents did was discipline.

The current law agrees with this outlook, and I see no reason to give the government any more power over our lives.

Posted by: Caroline | March 30, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Let's take this to its logical extreme. All children will be removed from their homes and raised by government liberals. Any parent who resists will be beaten.

Posted by: Steve | March 30, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"I believe that spanking is useful when my wife/elderly mother has done something repeatedly that could really hurt her"

This may sound like a strange request but would you mind if I came over and gave a whack at spanking your wife/elderly mother? I've only ever spanked children and would definitely consider moving on up to adults. I have a feeling it would open up a much broader range of spanking possibilities that could be very fulfilling to a mover and shaker such as myself. What do you say?

Posted by: Mr. Spankerman | March 30, 2007 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm noticing a trend here. Those that are against spanking are replacing the word "spank" with "hit", "strike", "assault" and so forth.

I suppose to these people, allowing kids to watch a show where a married couple kisses each other is the same as showing them hardcore porn. Or taking 2 free samples instead of just one at Price Club is the same as robbing a bank.

Posted by: BF | March 30, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm noticing a trend here. Those that are against spanking are replacing the word "spank" with "hit", "strike", "assault" and so forth.

I suppose to these people, allowing kids to watch a show where a married couple kisses each other is the same as showing them hardcore porn. Or taking 2 free samples instead of just one at Price Club is the same as robbing a bank.

Posted by: BF | March 30, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

True story.
1976, Rural South Carolina Elementary School. 6 year old Boy gets smart and back talks his 2nd grade teacher. Teacher takes this boy to the front of the class, puts him over her lap and paddled his ass with a HUGE paddle, with holes drilled into it.
Boy is sent home with a note for his father. Father puts boy over his lap and spanks his ass with a belt. The boy needed to learn respect for his elders and his teacher.
Since that time, this boy has never back talked a teacher, nor has he committed any violent acts, never killed a kitten, though he did kill a Cornish Hen by trying to give it a bat, he was 6 at the time and He was VERY traumatized when he killed the hen, though.
I think that boy learned his lesson and was not traumatized by the spanking at all and society might be better off by the spankings...

Posted by: Joe D. | March 30, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

BCP Wrote: **If you use degrading language against your child, calling him or her a "loser" or swearing at your child with clearly offensive language and so on, even that is governed and can be grounds for removing a child from your care.**


Identify ONE case where a child was removed because the parent called them a loser or used offensive language. If it did happen, then it was government gone WAY out of control. I certainly don't advocte denegrating children but if governments regulate this behavior then soon we'll see children removed because they were fed fast food or taught that their religion is correct and all others are wrong, etc. I realize that there are people now who would argue that feeding children fast food or rasing them to believe in God is child abuse, however only the most zealous and unreasonable among them would advocate that those should be grounds for termination of parental rights.


Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"If I got spanked in school, or ever got in trouble with someone in authority, my parents never coddled me and made me think those people were wrong - the lesson was, you are expected to behave a certain way when you are not at home, and when you don't you have to live with the consequences of breaking the rules that those people have set."

I'm not clear on why this lesson can't be taught without violence. There are many, many other ways besides spanking to discipline children, and they work. When I was a nanny, I broke a 9-year-old boy of cursing in two weeks by using a system of television deprivation. My own DD (16 months) already knows there are certain things she's not allowed to do, and will proudly point them out and say "no!" It takes time, persistence and imagination, but discipline need not come in the form of hitting.

And for those of you who spank, what do you consider a reasonably punishment? How about that minister who advocates using plumbing pipe to beat kids as young as 1 year old? He, too, relies on the maxim of "spare the rod, spoil the child."

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 30, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

i am not a parent, but this is the thing that i can't get around when i hear both sides to the spanking argument. i would not want me child to be afraid of me. i grew up afraid of a parent who used yelling/screaming/anger as a form of discipline. it sucked, and i suppose it could be called verbal and emotional abuse -- and yeah, i turned out ok, but for many years, i was not ok. i realize this is a rhetorical question, but how do you walk that fine line between needing a wake-up form of discipline for a child that 123-magic, time out, etc. simply doesn't work for, and making them obedient out of fear?

Posted by: kat | March 30, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the comment about shame. There is no shame in this society, everything is okay and you aren't supposed to make people feel bad about any choices. This is translating into bratty, selfish children because parents are so concerned about their children feeling bad about themselves. I'm sorry, but if your child is walking through the grocery store throwing things and screaming, they SHOULD feel bad about themselves.

Posted by: shameful | March 30, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Bill Wrote: **Moreover, it sends a very clear message that violence is acceptable in certain "approved" circumstances.**

But violene is acceptable in certain circumstances. Do you really believe that law and order is maintained in a wholly non-violent manner? If so, you are very, very naieve indeed.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Caroline. Guess what? I didn't get spanked or have my mouth washed out with soap, and I learned to respect others and behave appropriately. The point that a lot of people here miss is that there are alternatives to hitting or violently forcing a bar of soap in someone's mouth. I would urge those of you who don't know any other way than corporal punishment to consider other possibilities. Why hit when there are alternatives?

And to the person who says the only way they can stop their 3½-year-old from running out into the street is to spank them, you have serious communication problems if that's the best way for you to correct your child. I know it takes more of an effort to deal with children non-violently but it's the more honorable, decent approach to childrearing.

Using violence with children sends a message that violence is acceptable. As any good military person knows, force or violence should always be a last resort when ALL OTHER MEANS have failed.

Posted by: Bill Randle | March 30, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

This government can with laser like precision f*** up everything it does and it would include this issue if the people are as stupid as they seem.

Posted by: mcewen | March 30, 2007 11:03 AM | Report abuse

If the gov't makes spanking illegal I will move my family to one of those offshore islands in the Caribbean where I can spank my child as often as I like. And I do like!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Let's use the 'Reasonable Man' test here. It is not reasonable to beat, burn, choke or maim your children. A swat on the butt once in a while to deter unruly behaviour is reasonable. A TV sitcom where a husband kisses his wife is reasonable. Children watching hardcord porn is not reasonable. I don't think it's wise to legislate spanking. It would be unenforceable unless they stationed the spanking police in every household. It isn't going to happen. After all, who is the parent here? Parents should be authority figures; they shouldn't let the kids run wild, undisciplined and disturbing other people or damaging their property. IMHO, vandals should be shot on sight.

BTW, I saw an large black man smack his little girl across the face in a grocery store once. Nobody intervened there, either. First off, he was huge -- looked like a basketball player. Second, I only came by in time to see his hit her, didn't see what caused the action. Everybody else in the store walked a wide circle around him. The little girl's nose was bloodied and the deli clerk handed him some paper napkins to wipe her nose. It was really disturbing, but by-standers were afraid he'd go off and start beating somebody else. Maybe he had a weapon.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who think spaking is ok and can be used as a teaching tool...is a belt ok? How about a ruler? A paddle? Where do you draw the line if you approve of it in the forst place?

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

MakesYouWonder--

"I think it's typical of liberals to decide that only they know what constitutes abusive behavior and that they should be the moral arbiters of society. Why are they always pushing their amoral agenda on the rest of us?"

Are you a conservative per chance? Don't you do the same thing. No matter what side of the political spectrum you come from, everyone has their own belief system. But what I want to know as you attempt to label liberals as "amoral"...is how exactly is not wanting to spank your child amoral? Can't wait to hear the answer to that one.

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Violence? Give me a break lady! I'm giving you my own life experience - and I'm telling you that I don't consider that "violence". Life can be cruel and life can sweet - kids shouldn't be raised in a bubble thinking nothing bad should ever happen to them. At some point your kid will grow up and not be under your shelter, and the real world is not going to give little Johnny a time-out when he does something wrong.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Everyone has their own strong opinions whether spanking messes you up or not. There *is* a difference btwn child abuse and spanking, at least legally. And for every person who is not fine and who was spanked at some point, there's always another person who wasn't spanked and turned out really jacked up.

I personally don't believe that spanking leads people to believe violence is acceptable.

Posted by: Cubeland | March 30, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to 1984. Big Brother knows best!

Guess what does more damage to children than just about anything else? Divorce! Oh sure, my kids are better off if I leave my spouse and go live somewhere else and deprive them of a mommy/daddy.

What a world!

It makes "perfect sense" that a teenage girl can have surgery to abort a child without her parent's knowledge but a parent can't spank a misbehaving child.

Imagine two scenarios: A police officer shows up at your door saying "I'm sorry, but your daughter died of complications from an abortion that you didn't know she was going to have."

Or a police officer shows up, saying I'm sorry, you are under arrest for spanking your child.

Posted by: Maryland Dad | March 30, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

I should amend my statement as I can't speak for everyone else- I was spanked on the rear with a hand (rarely and until I was 5ish) and certainly did not grow up to think violence is acceptable. I personally will spank my children if and when I find it necessary and it will only be with my hand on a clothed rear. One or two swats.

Posted by: Cubeland | March 30, 2007 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Legislation against spanking. We can debate forever about the issue, but one misses the point. What is the punishment to be for a parent who spanks? Will it be that they lose their kids? Can that make things better? Instead of being in a home with their parents, kids will be in foster care.
Ask yourself this question, 'Would you have rather been spanked as a child, or put into foster care?'

Posted by: Logical Thought | March 30, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

"I think washington post should have an anonymous survey to see how many parents have spanked their child atleast once and what their child's accomplishments are"

This type of comment and jusitfying spanking by saying, i spanked my kids and they are fine, is utterly pointless. It is tantamount to suggesting that abused children never grow up to be successful.

Many children succeed in spite of their parents' actions and not as a result of them. The fact that most children who are spanked go on to lead productive lives does not logically justify an abusive activity, which we do not tolerate in any other form of human interaction.

Also, why do people suggest that there is a spanking exception when young children play with fire and run into traffic. As a parent it is your job as a bigger, stronger, and ostensibly smarter individual, to keep your children from running out in the street and away from fire. Especially when they are too young to understand the consequences of their actions. If you fail at this task maybe you should hit yourself so that you remember to protect them in the future.

Posted by: lalab | March 30, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

BF, I noticed the same thing -- people using more inflammatory terms. Evidently some people don't acknowledge different degrees of behavior. It reminds me of the chemist's adage that there are no toxic substances, only toxic levels.

Posted by: Lilsoozie | March 30, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who think spaking is ok and can be used as a teaching tool...is a belt ok? How about a ruler? A paddle?
Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 11:05 AM

I think that spanking is ok, but I don't see it as a teaching tool. Spanking is a punishment tool that can be used when a child has willfully ignored a parent's teaching tools and is being openly defiant. I have never had to use it with a child of mine, but I reserve the right to.

To answer your specific questions, personally I think that the use of a belt, ruler, or paddle is unnecessary and would never use one, but I do not believe that it should be made illegal.

To all those who are asking whether or not it is appropriate to spank your spouse, if you don't know what "SSC" means then this is a stupid, irrelevant question. You are not in a position of authority with respect to your spouse and neither are you responsible for teaching him or her to behave properly. In other words, you need not concern yourself with disciplining him or her by spanking or other techniques. If, on the other hand, you are very familiar with SSC, then you already know the answer to this question.


Posted by: Bob | March 30, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

"I think it's typical of liberals to decide that only they know what constitutes abusive behavior and that they should be the moral arbiters of society. Why are they always pushing their amoral agenda on the rest of us?"

Are you joking? If you think it is "liberals" who are claiming to be the moral arbiters of society then you don't read the news. Just today there is an article about how some conservative group is asking Fred Thompson to "declare his christianity" before they would support his bid for presidency.

Gay marriage? Abortion? HPV VAccines? The Clinton/Lewinsky scandal? All of these things . . . to name a few. . . are issues which conservatives pride/have prided themselves as being on the moral high-ground or have taken a position based on "morality". Get over yourself and please take your agenda somewhere else.

Posted by: JS | March 30, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Re: different terms

So, to the parents who spank, do you think you're not hitting your children? That strike is not a synonym for hit? If you have a problem with using true terminology to describe your behavior, than it sounds to me like you're ashamed of what you're doing.

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 30, 2007 11:32 AM | Report abuse

When I went into this parenting business, I was pretty sure I would not be doing much spanking. But I didn't start out thinking never. But as the years went by, there simply was never a time where I thought spanking was the right thing to do. So we never spanked the kids. But should the govt. ban it and inflict criminal penalties for its use? Certainly not for minor, (no marks) spanking. But this is a murky area. Kids must have a certain amount of protection, but defining that is not easy.

Posted by: robert legge | March 30, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Instead of regulating whether or not parents can spank their children, we should regulate who can have children in the first place... make sure that only the "good" parents have the "good" kids that will respond to the endless supply of non-violent tactics of child discipline.

And while we're busy removing "violence" from the home, let's remove it from the world! Let's outlaw war. God knows we're intelligent enough to solve our problems without resorting to that. Then we could use the money to send all the good kids to college!

Then, let's change the name of the country from the United States of America to Utopia!

These California legislators are really on to something here....

Posted by: I've Got The Solution | March 30, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Damon

You still haven't answered the question?

How do you and wife stop each other's bad behavior?

Posted by: Pythias | March 30, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

An Dliodoir:

Violence should not be used as a routine course of action at any time by anyone in a civilized society. We must send a clear, unequivocal message to everyone that violence is inherently wrong and will not be tolerated except in extreme situations.

For anyone who has ever watched Cops! it's frightening to see how much perverse pleasure some of these knuckleheads get from tackling and beating suspects. It doesn't take an expert to recognize the pathology. Having been in law enforcement myself for almost 25 years and now 9 years serving as a judge in municipal court, I get that officers have to use force from time to time to restrain or apprehend a suspect, but it should be used judiciously and only when truly necessary. Unfortunately it seems like more and more people gravitate toward law enforcement positions because they're drawn to violence and derive a sense of gratification from exercising authority and dominance over others. Many jurisdictions are only now beginning to utilize psychological testing in an effort to identify those kinds of personalities and weed them out of the candidate pool.

Almost 10 years ago I denied a promotion to one of my protégés because he had the audacity to admit that he would customarily "give a beating" to any suspect who forced him to engage in a chase. His theory was that the perp made him run instead of just giving up, so he deserved a beating. This officer had been on the force for a long time and yet I had to explain that our job was not to punish, but to apprehend and detain using the least amount of force possible. It is the prerogative of the courts and the people to decide on punishment. Unfortunately, this officer's viewpoint is not isolated.

I could go on and on about all the unnecessary and sometimes unauthorized violence I've encountered during my time in law enforcement and on the bench, but suffice it to say there are a lot of very angry men and women wearing badges and carrying guns who are predisposed to lash out at virtually anyone who challenges their authority. It wasn't that way when I started my career as a highway patrolman but it's gotten progressively worse. We live in perhaps the most violent country on the planet, and at some point we're going to have to address the root causes. It's not all about spanking, of course, but spanking sends the wrong message.

Posted by: Bill | March 30, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

My husband was never spanked, I was. My husband dropped out of high school and used drugs because there were no consequences for his behavior. I was a good kid who has never done anything worse than have a beer in college. Am I generalizing? Sure I am!
When our daughter was born, my husband vowed to never spank and didn't want me to either. I declined to join that camp. I do not beat my child and I only swat her bottom (one swat only) as a last resort to get her attention and then discuss why what she is doing is wrong. My husband came over to my camp when he got sick of our very head-strong child only listening to me (she didn't think a time-out was anything to get worried about and that was all my husband had in his arsenal). He has only ever swatted her once but now she knows he means business just like mommy does.

Posted by: 21117 | March 30, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Cubeland and "Reasonable Man Test" - it's comforting to know there are still people out there with common sense.

Why do people take "spanking" to mean "beating"? It's not the same thing. If you can instill a sense of shame into a kid for acting an inappropriate way without physical discipline that's great and that should be the first resort, but if that kid is not getting it, then nothing will get the message across faster to both them and their classmates than giving them a little whack on the ass in front of their peers.

Let me repeat in "reasonable man test" speak for those that only think in extremes - "little whack" means inflicting a small sting - the goal is not to injure, that would be a crime, it's the public shaming that ultimately gets the message across. The minor pain is really inconsequential, but it serves as an effective enough deterrent because along with the big paddles with fancy names it gets turned into urban legend in the hallways - "don't mess around in Mr. SoAndSo's class - I heard he has a paddle with holes to make it faster and he once paralyzed a kid with it".

I lived this, and I don't know of a single kid I grew up with that didn't turn out to be a reasonably good person - we didn't misbehave in class, and I think back on those days with a smile now, knowing the whole paddle thing was really mostly farce and no teacher could have paralyzed a kid without being in prison. And if you think I'm some old timer, I'm not - I'm 33.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

When you spank your child for misbehaving and not listening what message does that send? I know many of you say it helps them understand the gravity of the situation and gets their attention. But if you spank, how do you then tell your child it was wrong to hit another child on the playground? What if your child explains the other kid was just not listening and he hit him to get his attention? I guess he will have learned his lesson then!!

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Please allow me to enjoy the reading without the attacking. I am not going to talk about my wife in public.

Posted by: Damon | March 30, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Damon - You mean "enjoy the reading" like you "enjoy the spanking"? What are you, a one-eyed hillbilly from Kentucky?

Posted by: Aardvark | March 30, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I think many here try to equate BEATING and VIOLENCE with Discipline. wacking your childs rear because he back talked is not a beating...A beating is when you take your frustrations out on your child. Most people that discipline their child do not beat them nor take their frustrations out on the child...That is why we have dogs :-)

Posted by: Joe D. | March 30, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Damon

"Please allow me to enjoy the reading without the attacking. I am not going to talk about my wife in public."

1. There will always be someone who disagrees with you.

2. You may not wish to talk about your wife in public, but you have already discussed your father and sons.

3. The endorsement of your minister is worth less than nothing to many people.

Posted by: Pythias | March 30, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Spanking is good for America!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Shall we try to keep this civilized?

Posted by: Allan | March 30, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Bill Randle: FYI, I have never had a parent "violently forc[e] a bar of soap" in my mouth. I'm a child of the 80's, so my parents only used moisturizing liquid hand soap. Mmm, tasty! Also, my parents were disciplining me, not abusing me for the fun of it. What the hell is wrong with a person who would jump to such conclusions?

Seriously though, of course there are alternatives to spanking. Spanking never phased my brother out of doing stupid/dangerous things, but taking away toys and privileges did. Taking away TV or toys never bothered me, but taking away books sure did. My parents used the appropriate punishment for each of their children, and used corporal punishment rarely. Isn't that what good parenting is about? Parenting to the benefit of each of your children?

Oh, and my uncle is an active duty soldier, and his three kids are among the most respectful, obedient and polite I have ever met. And yes, he will spank them if he deems it necessary.

Posted by: Caroline | March 30, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I spank my children on very rare occasions when everything else I do hasn't worked. I will admit feeling guilty but I also find that it works. In a very busy day I don't always have time to talk it out.

Posted by: Deidre | March 30, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"But if you spank, how do you then tell your child it was wrong to hit another child on the playground?"

You don't get it - if your child knows that there's a possibility that he will get spanked in front of all of his friends if he hits a kid on the playground, he might not do it in the first place because the humiliation he will suffer will be worse than what he hopes to get out of hitting the kid. If he knows the worst thing that might happen is he gets a time-out or loses TV for a week, he might decide it's worth it. It's not about the pain, it's about the shame - getting spanked is being forced to be submissive/embarrassed in front of others, which is something no kid likes, forgets, or wants to re-experience.

This lesson stays with you when you grow up. I have a co-worker with an annoying ring-tone and I'd like to grab his cell phone and throw it out our 15th floor window next time it rings. I know that I would get fired though and wouldn't be able to pay my bills - but if I knew all it would mean is my boss would have a little talk with me then I might do it for the pure satisfaction and the laughs I'd be sure to get from some of my friends.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Ol' Trusty: You can sit in my front porch rocker and have a lemonade any time you want. For what it's worth, I have a cousin who is a police officer. His wife is a school teacher. Their three kids are the most undisciplined, spoiled, obnoxious kids I've ever seen. Temper tantrums, rude behaviour, greedy little wretches. Their father drives them in the canine cruiser because he can't control them. Go figure.

Posted by: Reasonable man | March 30, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty


"I have a co-worker with an annoying ring-tone and I'd like to grab his cell phone and throw it out our 15th floor window next time it rings."

Hey Bozo:

If you were really smart, you would know how to hack in and deactivate the ring- ton without getting caught!!

Spanking has nothing to do with it?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Government has only three purposes: defense of the nation, coining money and arranging foreign policy--ANYTHING else is abuse of power.

Posted by: the Ripon Republican | March 30, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

It might be useful for the United States to look at Scandinavian countries for comparative data, where spanking children has been outlawed for a long time. They have conducted numerous studies that would be constructive to the dialogue. In general, Scandinavia is far more advanced that us when it comes to social issues.

And to those who ask how a law would be enforced: I don't envision thousands of parents on community service patrols. Just having the law on the books and communicating that it's wrong is probably sufficient. As someone else pointed out, we need to send a message to parents that hitting, spanking, or whatever you want to call it, is unacceptable. Over time parents would understand that they must take the time to find alternatives to spanking and it would eventually decline to the point where it wouldn't be an issue.

By the way, my husband and I are conservatives, so I don't think this issue is about politics, it's about kindness and love.

Posted by: Val | March 30, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty,

The real world isn't going to spank Johnny either. The real world will have a one-on-one with him about what he did wrong and the likely consequnce if he repeats a stpuid mistake. I've never had anyone "in the real world" hit me, because that isn't an acceptable reprimand in any venue.

Posted by: b | March 30, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Get a grip, NewSAHM, and stop with the amateur psychology. Nobody said strike and hit weren't dictionary synonyms. Words can have the same definitions yet have different connotations.

"Spank" is not the same as "beat." Just because someone can tell the difference doesn't mean they support or practice either.

Posted by: JJ | March 30, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey 12:22 - you're missing the point of the example numbnuts. Maybe you had too many time outs and not enough schooling to understand an analogy.

And one other thing - parents need to stop trying to be their kids best friends and be their parents. If I did something and got scolded and asked why I had to listen, my dad would often use the old "Because I'm your Dad" or "Because I said so". I might have hated him for it then, but now I get it and love him more than ever.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Take a vacation some time. See the world. America is probably the most violent country on the planet -- trying for some Hyperbole Trophy, are you?

Posted by: Dear Bill | March 30, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty

"If I did something and got scolded and asked why I had to listen, my dad would often use the old "Because I'm your Dad" or "Because I said so". I might have hated him for it then, but now I get it and love him more than ever."

Maybe your father didn't get enough schooling or he would have been able to give you a better reason to obey than "Because I'm your Dad" or "Because I said so. Dad doesn't sound like a mental giant.

You must have been pretty dumb as a kid if you couldn't figure out why you had to obey your parents. Duh!!!!

Were you in the retard class at school?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey 'b' - you're another one that doesn't understand an analogy. "Right and Wrong" can be thought of in relative terms. Think of it this way - your kid might turn out to be in the mafia. While society might not see that as 'right' in itself, the only thing that matters to little Johnny is what is right and wrong in his own little reality. If little Johnny decides to stop giving Tony Soprano his whole cut of the loot, then that is the 'wrong' thing to do, and if he doesn't understand consequences that will be unfortunate because Tony is not going to give him a one-on-one.

Or how about this - I could decide to just stop paying my taxes. The IRS is not going to give me a one-on-one to explain what I did wrong - they're going to nail my ass to the wall and ruin my credit until they get their money.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

When I was 8 or 9 years old I wet my bed at summer camp. The camp counselors had me drag my mattress to the front of my cabin by the door so all the kids would know what happened. Then they had me wait in the office until the headmaster returned. I saw him get out of his car a couple hours later and walk toward the office. He was a big man and I was shaking with fright. He opened the door, spoke in hushed tones to someone in administration, and then walked over and asked me what happened. I meekly explained as best I could and when I was done he suddenly grabbed me by the scruff of my shirt and lifted me with one hand in the air over his head. I was terrified and started balling uncontrollably. He was surprised at my reaction and immediately set me down and tried to calm me.

I was scared to be away from home with strangers for the first time in my life and that probably had something to do with wetting my bed. Regardless, I was already humiliated and mortified in front of the entire camp and additional punishment was unnecessary. However, he was from the old school and believed the matter wasn't settled until some form of corporal punishment was dispensed. Poor behavior had been exhibited and it must be corrected.

A couple of years later, I was at school in the same room as a group of boys who got into a fight. I was not involved in the fight but the assistant principal assumed I had been and rounded me up with the other boys to go to the office. At the office he pulled out the paddle with the holes and instructed us to line up for a spanking. I implored the vp not to spank me because I hadn't been involved. One of the other boys confirmed my story but he nevertheless spanked me along with the others. I had no previous record of discipline problems other than my mom occasionally dropping me off late to school

To this day I'm convinced the vp honestly believed I was involved and assumed the other boy was covering for me. He was busy and didn't have time to sort out the details. The sense of indignation and injustice I felt stuck with me for a long, long time. In fact, I can still feel it today some 30 years later. It's taken decades for my anger to subside but I learned a lot from those formative experiences. I have never intentionally embarrassed or humiliated either of my children, and I have never even contemplated the possibility of hitting them. I am 6' 3" and they are about half my size.

I have two lovely children, a boy and a girl, and I am never shy about admitting my mistakes and apologizing when appropriate. I couldn't ask for better children. I love them with all my heart and I would sooner cut off my hand than raise it in anger against either of them.

Folks, we are undoubtedly a product of our upbringing. But just because something was done a certain way when we were children doesn't make it right and it doesn't mean it's the most effective way of dealing with discipline problems. Dare to do things differently.

Posted by: Tony | March 30, 2007 12:51 PM | Report abuse

12:47 - you are the moron, and lack the intellect to discuss something you don't agree with without attacking. You obviously don't have kids. There is not a kid that has ever lived that didn't ask their parents at some point why they couldn't do something. As stated above, children are not rational creatures and parents do not always owe an explanation.

Posted by: Arlington | March 30, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Tony

I am very sorry for what happened to you, but you do bring up some good points.

Spankings/beatings/whippings have been used to "cure":

Bedwetting
Left-handedness
Stuttering
Mental illness
Witchcraft

Again, I am very sorry.

Posted by: Pythias | March 30, 2007 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Bill, so you agree then that an appropriate and judicious use of violence is justifiable. So I guess you're not naive, just sanctimonious.

I suggest that appropriate and judicious use of corporal punishment is also justifiable in raising children. If an individual parent is not comfortable with that, then they shouldn't do it. But other parents or the government should not interefere with a parent's choice of discipline. The government can not legislate perfect parents or perfect people. I further suggest that parents too lienient regarding discipline are abusing their children and failing society. Perhaps we should legislate daily beatings for all children!

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Tony:
I think you hit the nail on the head.

Posted by: Bill | March 30, 2007 1:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh Bill, btw, your claim that the US is one of the most violent countries in the world demonstrates your abject ignorance. Have you ever been to another country? Outside the developed world? If so, you'd realize that corporal punishment is FAR more prevalent and accepted in most other countries/cultures than it is in the West.

So by your logic, since. . .China, for example, has lower rates of crime and "violence" we should treat our children just like they do in that culture? Do a little homework and come back and tell us about corporal punishment of children in modern China. Perhaps that's WHY there's such low levels of "violence?" Again, I suggest we legislate daily beating for all chidlren!

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

"But if you spank, how do you then tell your child it was wrong to hit another child on the playground?"

You tell them it was wrong because hitting a child is not the same as a parent disciplining a child. Or, as someone else said "Because I am the Mom/dad."

The same way you will tell the child when he is a teenager that he can't drink alcohol even though you might have a drink every now and then.

There are different rules for children and adults. Life isn't fair. Little children are not little adults.

There is a huge difference between an open handed spank on the bottom and child abuse.

If you don't believe in spanking, don't do it. If someone else is spanking their child, it is really none of your business. if they are ABUSING their child, call the authorities.

Posted by: lurker | March 30, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty-

I don't think I am missing the point. I understand the shame rationale although I don't agree with it. Even if a child is temporarily "shamed" how do you prevent them from using the same rationale on the playground when you are not around? We have taught them that the violence of hitting, and there is no way around it that spanking is a form of violence no matter why or how it is dispensed, is a way to get people to conform to how we want them to behave. I am not saying that time outs always work, or that other methods always work either, I just can't get over the violence of hitting as a form of teaching.

I have 2 kids and have never spanked. Also, everyones argument that they were spanked and turned out ok does not mean anything. It's not like the reason you turned out ok is BECAUSE you were spanked. My brother and I were never spanked and I am a lawyer and he is a teacher. I would never say the reason we turned out ok is BECAUSE we were not spanked. There are a myriad of reasons we all came out ok or not ok, trying to connect to just one thing is impossible.

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Tony--

Excellent Point. Doing something because it was done to you is the rationale behind hazing. I don't think many people think hazing is ok. What was done to you at camp was emotional abuse and I am sorry for you. Too bad it was so long ago or I would say sue that place!

BTW-how did your parents react when they found out you were paddled at school? Is that something they were ok with? The fact that it still scars you 30 years later should show everyone something!

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

JJ,

I didn't use the term "beat." Other posters have objected to mi (and others') use of the words "hit" and "strike" instead of spank. I think they're being silly.

It reminds me of when I was a kid, my brother used to give me or my sister a smack. When my dad would punish him, he'd say "but it was just a love tap!"

Posted by: NewSAHM | March 30, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty,

You said "the real world is not going to give little Johnny a time-out when he does something wrong". And I replied "The real world isn't going to spank Johnny either". Both statements are true. But using your example of you not paying your taxes, my statement is a lot closer than the truth. And yes, they will have a one-on-one with you. It's called an audit. And you'll have to pay a fine. They won't "nail your ass to the wall". It helps people to take you seriously if you use analogies that work instead of ineffective analogies and hyperbole. IRS auditing you and fining you is a lot closer to a one-on-one and reasonable consequences than it is to being spanked or "nailed to the wall". Your argument does not at all support spanking.

Posted by: b, a.k.a. dc hates you, please stay in Appalachia | March 30, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Happy Dad - I agree with what you and "lurker" said. However, I think it's silly to take sad cases like the camp thing and say "see, that's what can happen". That is a case where the corporal punishment doesn't pass the "rational man" test. There are bad people out there, and just as you can take corporal punishment to an extreme, you could also take non-violent disciplines to an extreme and inflict mental abuse. I'm sure if we scoured the land we could find "see what can happen" examples of people that were punished with non-corporal discipline as well. I just wish people could accept that either method can work when applied "rationally" allow schools to adopt their own policies.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry "b, a.k.a. dc hates you, please stay in Appalachia", but I got the idea and you are just knit-picking. The point, pure and simple, is that kids shouldn't be taught that there are no harsh consequences to their actions or that their parents will always be there to protect them - the fact that you didn't happen to like the analogies is irrelevant.

Posted by: Silver Springer | March 30, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty

You sure are a dumb bastard who must have been at the end of the lines where brains and class were being distributed!

Hope you don't have many spawn on this planet.

You can't CURE bedwetting with ANY kind of punishment or discipline!!

Can you cure a cold with a spanking??

Posted by: Pythias | March 30, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Pithias - thanks for the kind words. Please point out anywhere that I said bedwetting can be cured with corporal punishment. In fact in my last post before you felt the need to attack me I agreed that was inappropriate.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty,

It's not that I didn't LIKE the analogies, simply that they were ineffective. That's not nit-picking. I agree that many children today do not have clear boundaries or appropriate consequences to inappropriate behavior. But here are many ways to punish and teach without spanking. A parent may fine the kid for not cleaning his room or for swearing (this is a good lesson so the kid will know what it will feel like when the IRS catches up to him in the future for not paying taxes). I personally spent a lot of time standing in the corner when I was young, and my TV, phone, video game, stereo, toys, and friend privileges were revoked if I misbehaved (talked back, didn't do my chores, didn't do my schoolwork, missed curfew, any of those things and more) because that's just it--those things are privileges, not rights. I then had to earn those things back. I think my Mom slapped me once or twice, but I think she knew it was wrong and less effective than the aforementioned punishments (a slap hurts for a few seconds, a week without TV hurts for, well, about a week). I'm glad my Dad never hit me, and I'm glad my Mom did it only once or twice. There are better, more creative, more effective, more humane, and still more harsh punishments that hitting.

Posted by: b | March 30, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I meant to type that "Pythias", before you have another reason to jump all over me.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Most children will, if they aren't total retards, learn by observing. Maybe that's the rationale behind some forms of punishment. I recall when I was in elementary school we were all in the 'bus room' -- the cafeteria -- at the end of the day where we all assembled to wait for our school buses to take us home. One day the principal was in the bus room for some reason. It was a Friday on a beautiful spring day. One schoolmate came into the bus room and let out a rebel yell and did not realize the principal was there until it was too late. Most of us thought the rebel yell was funny. The principal walked over to that child -- he was in 5th grade, so he WAS a child -- and slapped the boy across the mouth. The boy was humiliated. He struggled very hard not to cry, but he was humiliated. I have always felt so sorry for that boy and hated the principal. I will never forget that. We all walked a wide circle around the principal from that day on.

That is an example of child abuse. There was no need to humiliate the boy in front of us for a minor noise infraction. It's not like he firebombed the building or anything. Denying him recess time or adding an extra assignment would have been sufficient.

Posted by: Reasonable man | March 30, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I was spanked a few times as a child, but more often I was threatened "with the belt" (which was never used).

To this day I have major anxiety issues that's taken medication to manage.

So maybe spanking doesn't do any harm because *you* turned out okay, but there's no way to say either way, really.

Posted by: KH | March 30, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Ol' Trusty

"I just wish people could accept that either method can work when applied "rationally" allow schools to adopt their own policies."

One more time, moron. I can't believe you found a woman willing to mate with you.

A lot of bad/inappropiate behavior is due to a medical condition.

You can't CURE a medical condition with any kind of discipline or punishment, but you can make it a lot worse.

Posted by: Pythias | March 30, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

b wrote: **I personally spent a lot of time standing in the corner when I was young, and my TV, phone, video game, stereo, toys, and friend privileges were revoked **

When you were two? Three? Four? Five even? By the time children are at the age of having those things (though many don't every have such luxuries), corporal punishment is not effective and probably inappropriate under any circumstance.

Or are you telling us that when you were two, you stood in the conrner when directed? If you're saying that you're a liar.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I have administered a well-placed swat on the seat of the jeans, a few times. For egregious behaviour (hiding in a store and refusing to come out when I was frantic with fear was one. Running into the street despite my screaming at them to stop was another [the kid didn't hear me that time]). Each child has received about 4 from me, in 13 years of parenting.

But having said that, I was beaten viciously as a child by my parents both with, and without, real cause. The problem with spanking is that it is VERY rarely administered when the adult is truly under control. And it definitely affected our relationship as adults for the worse.

I'm not a proponent of spanking. I do believe in leading by example. I don't hit my spouse, friends or family, nor do they hit me. Well, not anymore with my family, let's hear it for therapy.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 2:24 PM | Report abuse

An Dliodoir

At two? Probably not. At two, "NO!" was probably what my parents did when I was doing/about to do something I wasn't supposed to. But you most certainly can take toys away from a two year old. If I didn't clean up my toys when directed, they would be taken from me. If I didn't listen to my parents, I couldn't go to the neighbor's for a play date. As I got older, the electronics were the things that were taken away.
However, I did witness a friend put her 2 year old in time out, so i think it can work. The key is to make it age-appropriate. Obviously, a two year old can't spend 15 minutes in time-out, but a firm "NO! You know that is not allowed!" (she had spit out food at the table) followed by 2 minutes sitting in the corner in the other room away from her Mommy and the dinner table was jarring enough so that she didn't do it again when permitted to return to the table.

Posted by: b | March 30, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"Or are you telling us that when you were two, you stood in the conrner when directed? If you're saying that you're a liar."

No, they are not.

My kids and I both pretty much obeyed as very young children because we LOVED and RESPECTED our parents.

We also wanted their approval, which is a powerful part of living in a pack (family).

Maybe you missed out on the massive approval part of living in a family when you were little and can't understand it as an adult.

I was also brought up not to call people names but there sure are a lot of dumb ass retards here today.

Charlie Manson thinks he turned out OK, but no one turns to him for parenting advice.

Posted by: Jake | March 30, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Jake, you are so full of it. At two years of age when you were told to go to your room, etc, you obeyed without hesitation, complaint or deviation? You ALWAYS obeyed with thoughts of love and respect for your parents. . .at TWO?!?!?!?!

Again, you are lying and everyone that has raised children knows you are lying.

Here's a little secret for you, all discipline is based on fear, fear of physical pain, fear of loss of affection, fear of loss of some material good. If you can instill that fear in your child without corporal punishment, great. But you will find something they fear.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Pythias, what is your problem dude? Stop blowing things out of proportion. I never claimed corporal punishment could cure someone of a medical ailment or that it should be used on someone with a medical ailment. At some point you have to expect people to use some common sense.

Are you as verbally abusive with your family when they do or say something you don't agree with? Whatever form of discipline you received as a kid doesn't seem to have done anything for your character.

Posted by: Ol' Trusty | March 30, 2007 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Jake wrote: **I was also brought up not to call people names but there sure are a lot of dumb ass retards here today.**

Jake also wrote: **My kids and I both pretty much obeyed **

But you're not obeying now Jakey? Do you not love your parents any more?

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Jake,

For real!

An Dliodoir,

I don't want to put words in Jake's mouth, but I don't think he's saying he did exactly what his parents said without hesitation or complaints. And I sort of agree with the fear bit, but I think it is more about love. Yes, I was afraid of my Dad because he's 6'7, a cop, and has a scary loud voice. He never hit me, but raising his voice was certainly enough.

It sounds cheesy, but I really felt worse when my parents said they were disppointed in me for making a bad decision than when they yelled or punished me. That can work even with very young kids because, as you said, they may fear losing your love. But it should be stressed to them over and over that you love them no matter what, and because you love them you will keep them on the straight and narrow. The "I expected more from you" speech and "go to your room and think about what you've done", followed up by "I love you and I expect great things from you. You need to apologize to your brother and turn over (insert most beloved toy here) for a week" go further and are more thoughtful and reformative than a smack on the ass.

Posted by: b | March 30, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Ok - for the non-spankers:

How do you feel about sports coaches who discipline by assigning extra laps, push-ups, etc? That is also physical punishment and can be more painful than a few quick swats on a bottom. Do you think the coaches should be telling the students to just sit in time-out or detention for an extra half hour after practice?

Speaking of sports, how do you feel about football, karate (hitting and kicking), boxing? Isn't there violence there? I don't think you can outlaw spanking and have football be legal.

Posted by: lurker | March 30, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

An Dliodoir

"Jake, you are so full of it. At two years of age when you were told to go to your room, etc, you obeyed without hesitation, complaint or deviation? You ALWAYS obeyed with thoughts of love and respect for your parents. . .at TWO?!?!?!?!

Again, you are lying and everyone that has raised children knows you are lying."

Again, all I can say is that don't believe me because you weren't raised in a nurturing atmosphere by warm, loving, supportive parents that you didn't want to disappoint.

There weren't a lot of orders in my house.

Look at it this way. Many people try to follow God's law as best they can out of love, not fear.

I don't remember being told to go to my room much at age two; I was still being breastfed and the grown-ups enjoyed my company.

Posted by: Jake | March 30, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

If the kid is old enough to be told to do extra laps, or push-up, or whatever; they are old enough to quit or complain long and loudly about it. Which permits a parent to observe.

A good coach doesn't want a player to get injured and not be able to perform.

Karate, soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, football--all of those have known risks of injury. But the injuries are incurred as an incidental/integral part of the sport. If a parent doesn't wish the child to participate, they don't have to pay for it.

Kids will horse around anyway, but I don't know of many healthy kids who WANT to get the stuffing kicked out of them, by friends, simply for fun. Not unless there is something they covet at the end (money, medal, to join the fraternity or sorority [and hazing is illegal on most U.S. campuses]).

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Jake I'm saying that because what you claim is beyond the capabilities of a two year old.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Jake wrote: **I don't remember being told to go to my room much at age two; I was still being breastfed and the grown-ups enjoyed my company.**

Oh, sorry. Why didn't you come out and tell us you were the one perfect child!

Jake, you're still lying. ALL children misbehave. ALL children need correction. Yes you can raise a happy healthy child without spanking but to claim that you never needed correction at age two is just plain nonsense.

. . .and you were still being breastfed at two?

Would you like to tell me more about my family and how I was raised? You seem to know so much about me and my parents and my siblings. Do tell?

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"Kids will horse around anyway, but I don't know of many healthy kids who WANT to get the stuffing kicked out of them, by friends, simply for fun"

AND, we're back to the original topic

People who Love to Spank & People Who Love to be Spanked

Posted by: Marvin | March 30, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse


If after 13 they hang out with their friends in ORDER to get a spanking, well, that's a totally different game that Mom & Dad have to deal with.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

In today's news there is a story of two 10-year=olds, along with a 17-year-old, who assaulted a homeless man. This happened at 9:00 pm on a Daytona Beach street. Why weren't they at home at 9:00 pm on a weeknight? These delightful children assaulted the man, knocked him against a wall, then bashed in his face with a cinder block. The victim is in a hospital and will have to undergo reconstructive surgery on his face.

Any suggestions on what to do with these little darlings. Time out perhaps? Maybe a slap on the wrist? Deny them their Xbox games? How would you flaming 'don't spank' liberals handle this? Get real -- these horrible things happen. Having worked with local law enforcement, I could tell you stories that would curl your hair. Parents aren't saints, either, but when you raise kids like these wretches, somebody isn't doing their job.

Posted by: Reasonable Man | March 30, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I'm not a proponent of spanking. I do believe in leading by example. I don't hit my spouse, friends or family, nor do they hit me.

Posted by: | March 30, 2007 02:24 PM

Do you put your spouse, friends, and family in time out? Do you take away their privileges (tv time, toys, etc.)? The relationship between parent and child is not the same as the relationship between spouses, coworkers, classmates, etc.

Posted by: Cville Mom | March 30, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

"Parents aren't saints, either, but when you raise kids like these wretches, somebody isn't doing their job. "

That's right! Put the parents and these sad sack kids in the electric chair and fry 'em baby, fry 'em.

Posted by: I Love Bush | March 30, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Do you think a spanking would fix these boys? They're obviously sick and messed-up. I'd let the law take care of them. If the DAs don't want to deal with those boys, the parents should send them to teen boot camp.
For the record, there's nothing we liberals hate more than over-indulged brats beating up homeless people. Spanking or not spanking a kid doesn't mean they'll grow up to be moral individuals. Spanking doesn't cure mental illness or protect kids from peer pressure. I wasn't spanked and I would never DREAM of assaulting another human being. Why? We liberals don't hit our kids and don't let our kids hit others.

Posted by: b | March 30, 2007 3:41 PM | Report abuse

"Any suggestions on what to do with these little darlings."

Jail.

And where do you suppose those little darlings got the idea that beating people up is okay? Perhaps from someone who said that they loved them while doing it?

As for the adults in my life, no I don't do time-outs. Instead I tell them what they are doing that is bugging me. If they persist, I minimize contact; some people have been cut off.

It's called "estrangement", sometimes "divorce" when it gets that far.

Kids want attention. If the only time you give it to them is by punishing them, you'll get plenty more behaviours that warrant punishing. If you pay heed to when they're good and give them ego-strokes, they'll give you more good behaviour.

We all like paychecks, of one form or another.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or are the majority of anti-spanking folks coming off like a bunch of navel-gazing wussies tiptoeing through the tulips to the rest of y'all, too?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse


Lurker -
You said
"Ok - for the non-spankers:

How do you feel about sports coaches who discipline by assigning extra laps, push-ups, etc? That is also physical punishment and can be more painful than a few quick swats on a bottom. Do you think the coaches should be telling the students to just sit in time-out or detention for an extra half hour after practice?

Speaking of sports, how do you feel about football, karate (hitting and kicking), boxing? Isn't there violence there? I don't think you can outlaw spanking and have football be legal."

There is a huge difference between organized sports and spanking. Should a 5 year old soccer player be assigned laps or push-ups for missing a pass or messing up a play...of course not. When your high-schooler has to run laps or sprints there is a major difference. This is being done to condition athletes who choose to play sports. Athletes need to be in good shape in order to safely play all of these sports you list and running and getting stamina is a huge part of that. I played sports through high school and college and it is an integral part of making sure a team is ready to play. The difference is...you have a choice whether to be on a team and run laps or do push-ups. A three year old doesn't have a choice whether or not his parents or teacher decide to "smack" him on the butt because he did something they don't want him to do.

On the same note, people choose to play football, so of course it can be legal and spanking not be. Football is a team sport that uses prootective gear to keep people safe. Are you going to let your kid shove 3 phone books in his pants so he does not feel the blows...I assume not.

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Reasonable Man-

I mean come on....how can you attempt to imply that if these kids were spanked that they would have never attacked the homeless man in Daytona. I am guessing these kids were probably hit often in an abusive way and that is one of the reasons they committed these criminal acts. Of course that is just a guess. But I feel very safe in saying that a spanking when they were 2 or 3 wasn't going to stop this.

I know many good parents who have had kids do dumb, even criminal things. It is not always the parents fault. Sometimes kids just get mixed up in the wrong crowd and do bad things. A lot of people also have some sort of mental illness that causes them or allows them to do really bad things....something a spanking will never be able to prevent.

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

As I recall, there are studies that show that the majority of parents who claim not to spank their children have, at some point in the child rearing process, resorted to some form of corporal punishment.

The bottom line is that young children are selfish, self-interested beings. As they should be! Their brains are different. They don't reason like adults or feel empathy and emotion like adults (except Jake who at two behaved himself ALWAYS because he loved his parents).

Relating to a two year old is not like relating to an adult. Anyone who suggests that the same methods of communication that are effective with adults work equally well with children is lying, ignorant or naive. Except for Jake, a two year old will ALWAYS act in his or her own best interest. The key is to convince them that their best interest is in doing what you say. As I said before, the sole motivating factor will be fear. The question, therefore, is what will you have them fear? What do they value enough to fear the loss of? Absence of pain works. Other fears work as well but at the end of the day, they will do something only where they fear the concequence of not doing it and regard compliance as being in their best interest.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | March 30, 2007 4:07 PM | Report abuse

As for the adults in my life, no I don't do time-outs. Instead I tell them what they are doing that is bugging me. If they persist, I minimize contact; some people have been cut off.

It's called "estrangement", sometimes "divorce" when it gets that far.

Posted by: | March 30, 2007 03:50 PM

Exactly. We don't treat our children the same way we treat our spouses, coworkers, etc, nor should we. I presume you wouldn't "divorce" your child. So the argument "I don't hit my spouse, friends or family, nor do they hit me" doesn't really mean anything when you're talking about discipline and a parent/child relationship.

Posted by: Cville Mom | March 30, 2007 4:08 PM | Report abuse

An Dliodoir -

I have to disagree. Yes...2 year olds can respond to fear, Fear of being burned by the stove, fear of falling off of a ladder etc...but that is not the only thing. Two year olds can also respond to rewards and loss of privilege. I am the parent of a current 2 year old so I feel preety good in saying this. My two year old responds to the loss of a special toy or item. Not all of the time, but no toddler will ever respond to or behave how we want all of the time. I also know that parents who spank don't just spanke once and the problem is cured. I have seen a kid spanked in a store who 5 minutes later is doind the same thing he was spanked for in the first place. Eventually a kid becomes numb to the hitting and continues on with the bad behavior anyway.

My 2 year old also responds to rewards. Instead of saying if you don't clean your toys up up like Daddy asked you are going to be spanked, we say if you clean up your toys we can read an extra book at bedtime tonight. That is a big deal and a reward worth cleaning up for.

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 4:16 PM | Report abuse

"Instead of saying if you don't clean your toys up up like Daddy asked you are going to be spanked, we say if you clean up your toys we can read an extra book at bedtime tonight. That is a big deal and a reward worth cleaning up for."

So you're bribing your kids to do chores they SHOULD do anyway? There is no difference between that and "honey please stop screaming and running through the restaurant and we'll stop for ice cream on the way home." Either way, the end result is a kid who will only work or behave if there's something in it for him. Not a great life lesson you're teaching .....

Posted by: StudentMom | March 30, 2007 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Student Mom

He's 2....not a PHD student. 2 year olds don't know what the "SHOULD" do anyway. Giving a kid a privilege is not a bribe. it says you have certain responsibilities and if you fufill those you get certain privileges. I would much rather think...hey if I behave when we are out today myabe my dad will take me for ice cream rather thaen him think If I don't behave I am going be hit. If that makes me a bad father then so be it. But I am pretty sure that my kids would beg to differ.

Posted by: HappyDad | March 30, 2007 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Happydad - of course they think you're a good dad, you have them walking all over you LOL

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Happy Dad: You're teaching your kid to be a suck-up instead of a *uck-up. Great lesson for later life.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 4:52 PM | Report abuse

"But then what happens when people decide that "time-out" humiliates a child? When being told "no" humiliates a child?"

My husband's aunt and uncle have adopted this view. The result? Their daughter runs wild and they don't stop her. They don't let anyone else stop her either. Right now, she's only 12, so they just miss out on a lot of family dinners because nobody can tolerate them and don't want their destructive daughter in their home. When she hits the teens, I have no doubt she will be uncontrollable altogether.

Of course, if anyone needs a good spanking, it's the parents. The kid would have been better off in a good pack of wolves.

Posted by: catmommy | March 30, 2007 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Disagreeing with spanking is much different than supporting legislation inviting the government to scrutinize one's parenting.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 30, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

"Hit" and "strike" should not be used interchangeably with "spank." The first two terms have an association with serious violence that "spank" does not.

B-52s bombing a target are not conducting an "air spank."

"Spank" conjures images of swats on the posterior AND NO OTHER SORT OF BLOW.

Picture this: You encounter an acquaintance who tells you that a few months ago, "A mugger spanked me."

Quick. What's the immediate mental image you have -- kinky criminal or angry thug?

Don't lie. Of course the kinky picture came first.

Someone who received a shiner in a bar fight did not get spanked, he got hit. Farrah Fawcett's character in "The Burning Bed" did not get spanked, she got beaten.

I don't think anyone is stupid enough to believe spank=hit=strike=beat=assault, that they are an identical quintuplet of word meanings. But clearly some people wish to pretend they are.

Posted by: Pisor | March 30, 2007 9:35 PM | Report abuse

HappyDad is right. Discipline based only on fear doesn't produce great results. The fearful may not do wrong, but they're so focused on avoiding punishment that they don't actively do well. The avoidance of wrong is not quite the same as fully doing good. Avoiding doing wrong often manifests itself in doing as little as possible.

Good leaders, and that includes good parents, know satisfactory results come from using carrots as well as sticks.

Posted by: Pisor | March 30, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I really can't believe that people really think spanking is an unacceptable punishment for running out into the street. A year or two ago an 11 year old boy was killed in Baltimore when he ran out in front of a bus. I remember footage on tv of his shoes lying in the street. Evidently it is not uncommon for people to be literally knocked out of their shoes when hit by vehicles. It made my blood run cold.

It is my prerogative as a parent to judge the situation and determine whether spanking would be an effective form of discipline to stop my kid doing this, whatever his age. It is your prerogative as your own kid's parent to examine your situation adn determine that spanking would not be effective for you. Timeouts, sticker charts, and tv deprivation (or whatever) are all perfectly reasonable discipline methods FOR BEHAVIORS THAT WON'T KILL YOU THE NEXT TIME YOU DO THEM. When your kid is performing a life-threatening activity you don't have two weeks to "work on" these behaviors with "positive reinforcement". You better get it right the first time otherwise you might be scraping up your little darling off the road. If spanking will help you do that, then so be it.

Posted by: m | March 30, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Bad analogy. Unless we're talking about some sort of full-shoulder-swing blast that leaves the realm of what is reasonably defined as spanking, spanking isn't likely enough to cause injury to warrant protection with phonebooks or anything else.

In football, serious injury is a strong possibility and all but guaranteed without protective gear.

The issue is not what football players or toddlers can feel, but the relative likelihood that they will get hurt bad enough to require medical treatment.

Posted by: Pisor | March 30, 2007 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Are you serious, 3:50? Humans don't need to have violence modeled for them in order to know how to use it. A 2-year old who has never been spanked or watched television more violent than Dora the Explorer will still snatch up a Tonka truck and klonk another kid over the head with it quicker than you can blink.

Toddlers who have been all but boys in bubbles in terms of exposure to violent behavior will still kick Mom in the shins during a severe temper tantrum. They don't have to be taught that. They just know, the way kids who can barely speak full sentences already know how to lie.

The miscreants in the news weren't genetically coded to attack a homeless man. Doubtless their parents deserve scrutiny. But it's not like violence is utterly alien to human nature, a purely societal construct that can be eradicated like smallpox if all parents are diligent enough.

Posted by: Pisor | March 30, 2007 10:23 PM | Report abuse

I really can't believe that people really think spanking is an unacceptable punishment for running out into the street. A year or two ago an 11 year old boy was killed in Baltimore when he ran out in front of a bus.

Wouldn't you say that death was punishment enough? What makes you assume that the child had a habit of running out in the street, in front of traffic? Sometimes it's just a dumb, impulsive act--and the only way a spanking "works" is to administer it.

If the kid had gotten hurt badly enough to go the hospital, do you really think the first thing the parents should do, in order to teach a lesson, is give the kid a spanking? It's not like the kid could get away from them there.

No, you don't "divorce" young children. But what do you want them to do in regards to you?

Respect you, or fear you? They are not interchangeable concepts.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 31, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, my husband and I have five kids, #6 on the way. We are religious and conservative. We do not tolerate behavior that is disrespectful, destructive, or just plain bad manners. Our kids do not watch mainstream television and they dress modestly - pants and skirts below the knee, sleeves to the elbow, collars to the collarbone. They know that their actions have consequences, and you can bet that many times, they probably would have preferred a swat on the behind over the loss of priveleges, but that is not an option in our house. Make no mistake, we run a tight ship but we've never spanked, never will.

And to those of you who think that the Bible defends spanking - the ROD that is referred to is a shepherd's rod. Do shepherds use that rod to beat their sheep? NO! They use it to guide them along the right path. Can you imagine Jesus hitting a toddler? I can't.

Posted by: This Mama | March 31, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

What, are you offering yourself as a role model for parenting?

Posted by: Duster | March 31, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I am. If you think you can't possibly raise a large family of obedient, respectful kids without hitting them at some point, I dare say you could use a decent role model. Look, I know a lot of folks who are really great parents who do spank. I don't think it makes you a bad person or a bad parent, but I do think it's a bad parenting decision. If you were spanked when you were young (I was), then learning other methods of imposing consequences that will effectively curb misbehavior is going to be a harder road to travel than choosing to spank. I understand why a lot of parents don't. But I don't think that makes spanking OK, and I don't think that parents have the right to use physical pain as a method of discipline.

Posted by: This Mama | March 31, 2007 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Try out for the next Olympics. You might win a gold in the Conclusion Jump if a one-line question leads you to think you know anything about a person's position on spanking.

This notion of a relationship between sleeve length and virtue is (insert euphemism here), but that's your business as a parent.

And that has been the point of a number of posters at this board on different sides of the spank/don't spank question. Disciplining their children is their business and not the concern of busybodies who de facto present themselves as wiser about parenting.

Posted by: Duster | April 1, 2007 9:11 AM | Report abuse

Really? Would you support my decision to discipline my children by whipping them with belts, withholding food or sleep, locking them in a dark closet for a few days? After all, it's my business alone, right?

Posted by: This Mama | April 1, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Haven't stated a position on spanking. Am not doing so now.

No one at this board has argued for an absolute right of parents to do anything to kids. No person here who has argued against an anti-spanking law has spoken in favor of anything that might reasonably be called torture.

Even people who oppose spanking, if they're reasonable, can tell the difference between spanking and something extreme.

The legal issue involved seems to be about privacy.

Posted by: Duster | April 1, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The difference is...you have a choice whether to be on a team and run laps or do push-ups. A three year old doesn't have a choice whether or not his parents or teacher decide to "smack" him on the butt because he did something they don't want him to do.

---------
Yes he does. That's the whole point. If you tell him not to do X or he will get spanked, and he then does X, he has made a choice.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2007 8:02 AM | Report abuse

I really can't believe that people really think spanking is an unacceptable punishment for running out into the street. A year or two ago an 11 year old boy was killed in Baltimore when he ran out in front of a bus.

Wouldn't you say that death was punishment enough? What makes you assume that the child had a habit of running out in the street, in front of traffic? Sometimes it's just a dumb, impulsive act--and the only way a spanking "works" is to administer it.

----------------

That is a non sequitur. The whole point of spanking for dangerous behaviors is to avoid the child's death, not to take some kind of sick pleasure in the idea that they got their just cosmic desserts. No, I wouldn't spank an 11-yo for running into traffic. If he was in the habit of running into traffic he would have likely been killed long ago. As you point out, it was impulsive, a trait common to pre-teens (and teens). I don't have an 11yo so I can't say what would help reduce the likelihood of this kind of horrible death. Maybe we could discuss different approaches to traffic safety. Maybe he's really hyperactive and needs to be on Ritalin. Or maybe it was just one of those unlucky things. No one can really say. But I would not hesitate to spank a 2 yo for this if I felt it necessary, because 2 yos don't have a concept of death and you can't discuss things with them as if they were rational. I'm not saying it's clearly the best approach, and it's not one I've had to use. I'm just saying it's up to the parent to judge whether this approach is required, and it's not the government's place to remove this approach from the table. Because you can bet it won't be the government standing at the side of his coffin crying.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2007 8:28 AM | Report abuse

2 yo also don't have much long-term memory.

They don't automatically associate the spanking with the "running into traffic". They don't get it. They cannot link the two for at least another 3 years.

As for spanking a 5 yo for running out into traffic--geez, again, we are dealing with children. It's better to explain to them BEFORE they run around what can happen and that there is a very real possibility of getting hurt, or killed. If they suffer a near miss, they're scared enough--what's the point in HURTING THEM further? If I hurt you for almost getting run over by a car, you'll trust me, respect me and think I am a leader?

As for the kids who are assigned the extra laps. They can quit the team. It's rare for children to have the option to quit the family. Unless they run away. And that happens quite often.

I have kids, 13 & 8. They're doing just fine. No, they don't play in traffic either. I don't spank them. I have heard other adults praise them for their manners, even for picking up after themselves (why don't they do it so readily AT HOME?).

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2007 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Yes he does. That's the whole point. If you tell him not to do X or he will get spanked, and he then does X, he has made a choice.

------------------------------

Oh, for pete's sake. That's not a real choice.

An older child has the choice to join a sports team, and the choice to quit that team if he doesn't want to run laps or do pushups as a punishment. A comparable analogy to spanking would be if the child were put on a team against his will, physically forced (if that were possible) by the coach to do pushups, and not allowed to quit the team or even walk away from the coach to avoid physical punishment.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

To be blunt, if a child under the age of 6-8 has darted out into the street, it's the parent who should receive the spanking.

Where was the parent to prevent this from happening? Why wasn't the child being supervised, or safely contained in a yard?

If corporal punishment were so great, we'd still be flogging our military personnel, keel-hauling, etc.

In my view, if you wouldn't slap an adult around for making an error in judgment, or even being obnoxious, then being physically aggressive with someone 1/5 to 3/4 your size, strength and age is a lousy thing to do.

Birth to five years of age, kids are developmentally akin to a puppy. Shoving your puppy's nose into excrement doesn't teach them not to have an accident--it teaches them not to trust you. That you are capricious, unreliable and a bad leader.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Christ on a stick! There's nothing more annoying than when people like "This Mama" start pulling out Bible analogies for why you should or shouldn't do something. It may be effective with children, but adults shouldn't need a make-believe fairy tale to provide a logical and rational sense of what is right and wrong.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster told me, so I know I'm right: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

Posted by: Polpette | April 2, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

I'm 21 (in a week). I was spanked as a child. I know my friends were. Guess what? We have no scars, no bad memories, nothing negative whatsoever from it. What we _do_ have is discipline. We know right from wrong. Spanking is an effective teaching tool. It doesn't take some special survey by professionals to say it. I lived it. Spanking works. Will I do it? No idea. Kids need to be disciplined. Our culture is getting too lax on misbehavior. Anyway, I would certainly vote against such a ban.

Posted by: Robbie | April 2, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

I recall reading on this site about someone who punished a kid by destroying the manuscript the kid had been working on for months, and other stories about punishment by destruction of property.

Plenty of people yell at their kids in public.

Many ground their kids or otherwise destroy their kids' plans and activities--without even realizing that they may be damaging their kids' relationships and standing in their communities, or even their college plans.

Mild corporal punishment, administered privately, seems much less abusive than these things.

Moreover, a child who is able to deliberate and make a serious decision to disobey his parent because he is reasonably convinced that his parent is wrong ought to have the courage to face a bit of pain. He ought not to have to risk having large parts of his life taken away from him for a couple of months.

If you're really concerned about protecting children, give them the legal right to leave their parents if THEY think their parents are abusing them. And give other adults the legal right to take them in. Then let families work out the rules that suit them--with the children actually having a say in those decisions.

Posted by: Alexander | April 2, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Spanking didn't teach me specifically to not go in the street. It taught me to obey my parents. Don't go in the street, touch the stove, climb the fence, jump on the bed, poke my sister in the eye, slide down the banister, etc. A few mild spankings while young taught me that I was expected to listen to my parents no matter what the situation was. I knew that disobeying would have a consequence. When I was spanked, my pride hurt more than my bottom, and i wasn't ever surprised by the discipline because I knew I did wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 2, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Alexander, how often do "child" and "able to deliberate and make a serious decision" occur together?

Impulsivity is a mark of youth. It's not like kids sit down with a legal pad and make a pro/con list before making "a serious decision" to misbehave.

Posted by: Kibbitz | April 2, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Many young people have that ability. Some even practice it quite frequently.

Posted by: Alexander | April 2, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

What age child are you talking about? Pretty much everybody here who has said something in favor of spanking has said it was for children too young to be swayed by reasoned argument.

Three-year-olds by and large don't operate on the basis of carefully considered reason. Where is the mass of the toddlers and kindergarteners who carefully weigh the available facts then break mommy's rules as part of principled household civil disobedience?

Posted by: Ululate | April 4, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"And to the person who says the only way they can stop their 3½-year-old from running out into the street is to spank them, you have serious communication problems if that's the best way for you to correct your child. I know it takes more of an effort to deal with children non-violently but it's the more honorable, decent approach to childrearing."
-Do NOT distort my words. I NEVER said that it was the *only* way to correct my child. I said that that way works. Time- out is also effective for disciplining my child. I also use that in conjunction with spanking. Both are VERY effectice and I will continue to use them both.

Posted by: DCMom | April 5, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

What IS it about parents in this country? GOD FORBID another parent make a different choice than they do--be it breastfeeding, education juice vs. water or spanking. It's not enough that they make the choice that works for them--no, ALL parents must do the same or they're BAD PARENTS.

If not spanking works for you, that's great. Seriously. But as far as I can tell, every argument against it comes down to "I don't like it. I didn't like it when it happened to me and I won't do it." That's not good enough. Does it do actual harm? No, not done properly. Does it cause the child emotional damage? Debateable and probably specific to each child. It didn't with me and I got spanked a lot more than my well-behaved older brother. Say it with me--I turned out fine.

Posted by: NYC | April 5, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

And please stop comparing your wife to a child. That's just creepy. An adult is not a child and if you insist on treating both the same, well, taken to its logical extreme that means pedophilia. See? Adults and children ARE diferent!

And one more thing--please resist the urge to make this a liberal vs. conservative thing. That's not the issue and it's boring and obvious when someone tries to hijack the topic like that. I'm liberal as they come and I have no problem with spanking.

PS: I also had my mouth washed out with soap. My did I hate that! I stopped using that language until I discovered Stephen King as an 8th-grader and it got into my system again.

Posted by: NYC | April 5, 2007 7:12 PM | Report abuse

Only the parents of children currently under 6 should have any say in this discussion. Those without childraising experience dont have a clue. Those parents who have past his point have the luxury of passing judgement on something they possibly would not do. Futher narrowing it down, parents with only daughters have no clue how hard it is to control a boy. Sons are typically difficult to handle and parents who only have daughters's tend to have a rosy picture of raising a kid.

That said, the option to spank is not so much a parents choice it is determined by the individual child's behaviour. As a parent of a boy, I would hate to spank my kid for very selfish reasons. A naughty child forgets pain very easily, but the parents mental guilt lingers far longer.

Posted by: Keith | April 5, 2007 8:05 PM | Report abuse

I was spanked as a child and I firmly believe that I am the better for it.

By the age of three or four, my parents had instilled enough respect in me that all they had to do was say the word and look at us kids and we stopped whatever offense we were doing. By that time, it was rare that we actually received a spanking anymore, because when my parents told you to stop it or else, they backed it up, consistently.

Today's youth are being failed by their parents. Personal responsibility is not being instilled in children. There is always some reason why little John or Jane can't be held responsible for their actions or inactions.

I say back to public flogging and stocks for those who commit petty crimes and offenses. Maybe if petty criminals experienced a little humiliation, and their families too, they would be less likely to go on to bigger and badder crimes.

Mommy and Daddy need to stop crippling their children and make them stand on their own two feet.

A little swat when they are little to learn consequences goes a long way.

Posted by: Michele | April 5, 2007 8:26 PM | Report abuse

"We have 8 children and we believe that spanking is useful when the child has done something repeatedly that could really hurt them..."

If spanking worked, they would not repeat the negative behavior after being spanked once. So the spanking is for you to feel better, to make up for your lack of effectiveness in discipline.

Some kids grow up all right despite being spanked (I'm one). Yet, others like my husband, who was disciplined nearly daily with spanking and outright hitting, were really, truly abused.

I spanked my son but never my daughter. (I had grown as a parent and found better ways to handle things).

I truly regret ever having laid even a pinkie on my son.

It was not often...probably a handful of times, but it makes me sick to think about it even now, and he's 17.

Posted by: Kate | April 6, 2007 12:36 AM | Report abuse

No. We are almost to the point where any type of physical contact would be ruled assault. This is absurd. Enjoy your existential hell, yuppy scum.

Posted by: joe | April 6, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

My parents were spanked, my husband's parents were spanked, we were both spanked, we spank our daughter and it has worked very well without any trauma. All you have to do is look at the difference between the generations where it was normal to spank and the more recent generations and see a major difference in behavior. Doesn't anyone see what liberal parenting is doing to our society?

Posted by: Shanna | April 9, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

"We are almost to the point where any type of physical contact would be ruled assault."

You`re not kidding! 15 years ago I was a sub teacher in the Fairfax County school system and they warned us not to let the kids hug us (I taught elementary age). They said there was a possibility the parents might sue for physical or sexual abuse. Do you know how hard it is to push away a kindergardener who wants to hug you?? I gave up and just let them hug me.

"Doesn't anyone see what liberal parenting is doing to our society?"

You mean with that record low crime rate and record highs of college graduates? Yeah, I can see how that would bother you. Again, please stop trying to make it a political thing--it's boring and obvious what your agenda is.

Posted by: NYC | April 9, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

New program in Québec:

Spanking 101

Should a school board be teaching parents how to spank their kids? That's what the Val-des-Cerfs school board is doing in the Eastern Townships (Quebec), via courses given by psychologists. The courses for "difficult" children last 10 weeks, and in week 6 - which teaches parents how to punish their children - the parents are taught how to spank properly - if their kid is over 2 years old.

They are told that it's a last resort, after sending the child into the corner.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 12, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

"Today's youth are being failed by their parents."

Good one. Can't wait for you to pull out some more golden oldies: "Back in my day..." and "These kids today...." Perhaps you could resurrect "whippersnappers" as a commonly used term.

Kids born since 1975 are going to college in greater numbers than their parents and grandparents and will earn more money over their lifetimes. Is this cause for despair?

Adults since Plato have griped how the younger generation was going to hell. One example: In 1964, John Stormer wrote "None Dare Call It Treason" and said churches, schools and parents were all subverting the qualities that Made America Great. (He was a big fan of J. Edgar Hoover, though.) Nineteen sixty-four. Look at a yearbook from then. All of the guys have buzzcuts. These were the youngsters he said were weak and degenerate. And surely some of them were. But talk of imminent doom was misguided.

Before that, in the 1950s, parents worried about the Beats or "juvenile delinquency." Elvis caused the loss of maidenhood. Kids were going steady while too young and were thus destroying the spirit of American competitiveness. Or so said the parents and commentators of every generation who were inclined to see change as signs of the apocalypse.

A little perspective please, and a little more faith in human resilience.

Posted by: JoeB | April 13, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

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