Friday, October 30, 2009

Burning Question of the Day: Spanking

Do you, or will you spank your children? Why or why not? And more interestingly, do you judge other parents who have an opinion that's different than yours?

The child conduct clinic has released findings that in the US, 63 percent of parents physically discipline their 1-to 2-year-olds, and 85 percent of adolescents have been physically punished by their parents.

On the other hand, in 2001 the UN launched the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, with a target of 2009 for achieving that goal.

For me, working with kids in foster care, I think it's important to first define what I mean by "spanking". When I'm talking spanking, I mean with an open hand, to a clothed bottom. In the State of Oregon, spanking isn't illegal--unless it leaves any sort of mark. Then, it becomes child abuse.

Now that that's clear, personally, I think it depends. It depends on the child, for one--Justin says that he remembers singing "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" to his parents once before getting a spanking. I think it's pretty clear in that circumstance that spanking wasn't going to be the most effective form of discipline for him.

However, there are times when I think that spanking may be the logical and natural consequence for behavior--specifically when that behavior could cause physical harm to themselves or another (i.e. swinging a bat near another child). I'm not sure that I would use spanking as just a general method of conduct correction (i.e. "stop screaming or I'll give you a spanking"). For some reason, in my opinion, spanking would probably only be effective from about ages 3-8. I don't believe in spanking teens or infants. I think at that point, there are just other forms of discipline that are more effective.

Honestly, spanking probably won't ever be my first choice in terms of discipline. I feel like through work, I've learned some great alternatives to spanking for even the most defiant children. But I'm not sure that spanking is ever anyone's first choice.

That said, because I guess I have kind of a middle-of-the-road approach to spanking, I don't have a lot of judgment towards parents either way. I actually think that I'm probably more judgmental towards parents who don't tend to discipline their children at all--yes, discipline is mostly about teaching, but sometimes, it also requires a consequence (whether that's a spanking or a timeout, or being grounded)...which doesn't always seem to happen. The only time that I DO get really worked up over spanking is when I see parents spank a child under 1, or when they're using a belt or other object to spank, and spanking hard enough to leave marks.

So again, what do you think? Do you/will you spank your child? Why or why not?


  1. I'm in agreement with you about the spanking thing. I do not know if I will spank my (hypothetical) children, because I feel that it depends completely on the child. As a kid, I was spanked only a handful of times--being told that I had disappointed/saddened my parents with whatever misbehavior had occurred, plus a grounding or time-out from my favorite things was enough to get me to shape up VERY quickly. My brother, on the other hand, didn't care if he had disappointed or saddened my parents, nor did groundings or time-out's from his favorite things work. A quick swat to the backside is what sent him into shape up mode.

  2. I agree that parents who DONT discipline at all tick me off--especially being a teacher. On the other hand, I see situations where kids are more or less, abused. "I was slapped by my mom"...SLAPPED?! hello...

    So, I think that spanking may be necessary for certain kids--but for others...time outs work. I also think that spanking should not be in anger, and like my mom always did, she took time to go cool down first so it was never in anger. I like that approach.

  3. I am so grateful to my years of childcare at corporate centers- there you cannot spank- or even put kids in time out! So I had to learn how to discipline in other ways. I do not think that spanking was effective on me- it was just a fear tactic. I was much less willing to tell the truth- for fear of pain. Chris doesn't think that spanking is the only way to discipline- but he was not nearly as opposed to it as I am. I guess I don't think I can control how others control their children. It is their call- as long as they are not abusing them!

  4. I think you said it wonderfully!! I agree it should NEVER be a first option, but sometimes it is necessary.

  5. I am not necessarily pro-spanking, but obviously there are situations where it may be the best form of discipline. I think though, that we have to be careful that spanking isn't done in the middle of anger- I don't want to teach my kids that it is okay to hit someone because you are mad.

    John doesn't really have anything against spanking- it was a form of discipline that his parents used.

    My parents were ok with spanking, but really I never got spanked. I got smacked on the hand ONCE (when I was like 3) for pulling the cat's tail and after that, The Look or the warning of a smack on the hand got me to stop whatever I was doing. My sister on the other hand, required frequent spanking. :-P

    I will have to access the situation when I have kids- spanking will depend on the situation and kid..

  6. I am definitely not opposed to spanking. Both Tony and I were spanked, exactly as your guidelines {never in anger, 3-8, although sometimes barebottom} and were not traumatized by it. I can only recall being spanked once and it was the last time.

    You are absolutely correct that it depends on the child. For some a side glance will be enough, for others spanking will not even come close to keeping them under control!

    FWIW my Mom has 20+ years of child care experience and without a doubt we could easily identify children who were spanked and those who's parents completely opposed it. Those kids had no sense of discipline.

  7. Oh my gosh. I'm totally laughing at "Hit Me With Your Best Shot". How could you keep a straight face if your kid started singing that?? Freaking hilarious.

    My thoughts on spanking are pretty similar to yours. Will I use it? Probably. But never out of anger and I'll try other discipline options first. Like you said, it depends on the child, so I'll just do my best to discipline the child in the most effective way.

  8. I agree that its not the best form of discipline for every child. My siblings and I were SO different. My dad laughed on more than one occasion when I was up for a spanking- once I stuffed a few stuffed animals in my pants...and once due to a lack of "soft" resources, I loaded a book or two in the pants (I suppose I was learning about distributing force?). Spanking was great for me, but by the time I hit 7-8 the best form of punishment was standing in the corner, facing the corner - oh my goodness I hated the corner because I had to actually think about what I did and I couldn't leave for a set period of time (having said that I was notorious for falling a sleep in time out too...)I totally agree though, that you have to gauge discipline to the child - they have different personalities, and each personalities reacts better to different forms of discipline.

  9. Oh Justin :) I can just see him doing that too!

    I pretty much am on the same page as you about the spanking business. I will only spank my children if it were a serious offense on their part and never out of anger or with an object.

    I don't really remember being spanked a lot, but I know it happened. Jesse was spanked with a paddle (Of some kind) and we both turned out okay (I think anyway lol).

    I also have to agree about the parents that do NOT discipline their children at all. Nothing drives me more crazy!

  10. The punishment has to fit the crime as well as the offender.

    Each child is punished according to the offense his or her personality.

    Some have sensitive feelings and a stern voice is enough. Others such as Justin, myself and our son would be fine with a good smack so we could be on our way to more destruction and mayhem.

    For those destructive souls, standing or kneeling in the corner and making them stop and think is the worst punishment ever.

    Our son spent so much time in the corner that the corner of the wall began to turn black where he buried his face.

    I tried to blame my bad knees on my mom's "kneeling in the corner" punishment. She told me if I had been good, so would my knees.

    We reserve physical punishment for situations that might result in a greater threat to the child such as running into the street without looking, or climbing around a stove that was on or playing with knives.

  11. Probably not. I was spanked pretty much within the guidelines you set out, and I turned out all right, but I think too that I occasionally have a disturbing predilection toward the use of force to resolve frustrating predicaments (that I don't act upon, but sometimes you really want to punch a mufucking customer in the face), and I wonder if I would have that if I hadn't been spanked.

    Or maybe it's just that some customers should be whacked. In the face. With a fist.

  12. I'm more of a time out person. I don't feel like I can judge other people who spank though. It's a personal decision that everyone has to make for themselves.

  13. I want to say no but I can't say never. You just don't know what kind of child life is gonna hand you and what they're gonna need to get the message. As long as it's a last resort among a long line of alternatives I guess I could condone it. I just hope I won't have to do it.

  14. I'm not opposed to spanking, and agree that it depends on the child. I was spanked as a child, very rarely, and when that happened, I was unlikely to repeat whatever I had done wrong, and it was never an abusive type of thing.

    I think some children are very sensitive and it is more effective to just sit down and have a conversation with them, while others could probably use a little smack on the booty.


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