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 last of my 12 part series on the topic
Argument #11: Spanking is never necessary.
All children need a combination of encouragement and correction as they are disciplined to become socially responsible individuals.
In order for correction to deter disobedient behavior, the consequence imposed upon the child must outweigh the pleasure of the disobedient act. For very compliant children, milder forms of correction will suffice and spanking may never be necessary.
For more defiant children who refuse to comply with or be persuaded by milder consequences such as time-out, spanking is useful, effective, and appropriate.
Conclusion to the series:
The subject of disciplinary spanking should be evaluated from a factual and philosophical perspective.
Appropriate spanking must be distinguished from abusive, harmful forms of corporal punishment.
Appropriate disciplinary spanking can play an important role in optimal child development, and has been found in prospective studies to be a part of the parenting style associated with the best outcomes.
There is no evidence that mild disciplinary spanking by loving parents is harmful. Indeed, spanking is supported by history, research, and a majority of primary care physicians.
Here’s the entire series:
- Argument #1: Many psychological studies show that spanking is an improper form of discipline.
- Argument #2: Physical punishment establishes the moral righteousness of hitting other persons who do something which is regarded as wrong.
- Argument #3: Since parents often refrain from hitting until the anger or frustration reaches a certain point, the child learns that anger and frustration justify the use of physical force.
- Argument #4: Physical punishment is harmful to a child.
- Argument #5: Physical punishment makes the child angry at the parent.
- Argument #6: Spanking teaches a child that “might makes right,” that power and strength are most important and that the biggest can force their will upon the smallest.
- Argument #7: Spanking is violence.
- Argument #8: Spanking is an ineffective solution to misbehavior.
- Argument #9: Adults who were spanked as children are at risk for using violence as a means of resolving conflicts as adults.
- Argument #10: Spanking leads a parent to use harmful forms of corporal punishment which lead to physical child abuse.
- Argument #11: Spanking is never necessary.
You can read more of my blogs on spanking here:
- Is Spanking Associated with Child Abuse?
- The ABCD’s of Parenting – Part 7 – Discipline
- Spanking a Child – Is it Good or Bad?
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.