Spare the Rod? Is Spanking a Child Harmful or Helpful? – Part 8 – Is appropriate spanking a form of violence?

Opposition to parents spanking their children has been growing significantly in elite circles over the past few years. And, my blogs on spanking are among the most read of those I publish. Therefore, I’ve decided to, with the help of the research of my friends Den Trumbull, MD, S. DuBose Ravenel, MD, to look a the arguments used against spanking, to see if they hold any water. This is the eighth in a 12 part series:

Argument #7: Spanking is violence
Counterpoint: Spanking, as recommended by most primary care physicians,[7] is not violence by definition (“exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse”).[8] Parents who properly spank do not injure or abuse their child. The use of this term “violence” in the spanking debate only serves to deepen the confusion. Why do anti-spanking authors repeatedly fail to distinguish between abusive violence and mild spanking? The distinction is so fundamental and obvious that its omission suggests that these authors use such terminology for its propaganda value, not to clarify issues.

Argument #7: Spanking is violence

Counterpoint:

Spanking, as recommended by most primary care physicians,[7] is not violence by definition (“exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse”).[8]

Parents who properly spank do not injure or abuse their child.

The use of this term “violence” in the spanking debate only serves to deepen the confusion.

Why do anti-spanking authors repeatedly fail to distinguish between abusive violence and mild spanking?

The distinction is so fundamental and obvious that its omission suggests that these authors use such terminology for its propaganda value, not to clarify issues.

Citations:

[7] McCormick, Kenelm F., M.D., “Attitudes of Primary Care Physicians toward Corporal Punishment” Journal of the American Medical Association 267 (1992): 3161-3165.

[8] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1987); p. 1316.

Here’s the entire series:

You can read more of my blogs on spanking here:

By the way, an introduction is in order. Den A. Trumbull, MD is a board-certified pediatrician in private practice in Montgomery, Alabama. He is Vice President of the American College of Pediatricians. S. DuBose Ravenel, MD is a board-certified pediatrician in private practice in High Point, North Carolina. He served for 11 years on the pediatric faculty of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine prior to entering private practice.

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