Whether generational, cultural or otherwise, Americans have a wide variety of views on the appropriateness and effectiveness of spanking children as a disciplinary action.
How common is spanking?
According to an article by CNN, “Around the world, close to 300 million children aged 2 to 4 receive some type of physical discipline from their parents or caregivers on a regular basis, according to a UNICEF report published in November.”
But the article also goes on to say, “Sixty countries, states and territories have adopted legislation that fully prohibits using corporal punishment against children at home, according to both UNICEF and the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children.”
Is spanking legal?
The United States is not one of those countries that have prohibited spanking. In fact, according to Social Policy Report, “School corporal punishment is currently legal in 19 states, and over 160,000 children in these states are subject to corporal punishment in schools each year.”
Is spanking effective?
So for many, spanking is a legal and ethical gray area. Is it right? Is it effective? How will it impact my kids down the road? We took these questions to an expert on children’s mental health, Dr. Kelsie-Marie Offenwanger, child and adolescent psychologist for Marshfield Clinic Health System.
“In the short term, spanking might be effective at stopping a behavior in that moment. Children are often afraid of being hit or spanked. But in the long run, it can make children more aggressive. I kind of compare it to taking a pill for your back. That pill might make your back better in the moment, but it does not address the underlying cause,” Offenwanger said.
A report that came out of the American Psychological Association Task Force on Physical Punishment of Children said, “physical punishment is not an appropriate or even a consistently effective method of discipline.”
Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D., a researcher on physical punishment at the University of Texas at Austin added “physical punishment doesn’t work to get kids to comply, so parents think they have to keep escalating it. That is why it is so dangerous.”
Sending the wrong message
Offenwanger said spanking kids doesn’t necessarily convey to them that their behavior was wrong. Instead, it tends to convey the message that it is acceptable to resolve anger, frustration or arguments with physicality.
“Spanking is correlated strongly with negative outcomes for children,” Offenwanger said. “Some of those outcomes include higher risk of an emotional disorder like depression or anxiety, increased stress and emotional or psychological effects down the road.”
Children learn by watching the behavior of their role models and parents, so if they see their role models spanking, it may become a pattern for them later in life to use physical force to resolve conflict.
Long story short, spanking does not to appear to be effective in changing or improving a child’s behavior, and it may have negative long-term consequences.
If you think oh my kids turned out fine that's because they are too scared to tell you different I guess you are ok with that to hunh
The problem with this is that what the author says does not bear out in real life. I have volunteered in Ghana, Africa for many years. Use of the cane to discipline children in both home and school is normal there. And it is quite harsh! While children may be a little rough with each other, as adults the majority of people in Ghana are not at all physically violent and are not depressed or emotionally disturbed. In fact, I've seen a lot more violence in this country (USA). The author is using laboratory "research," not real life results. Godfrey
Hi im hungarian. I don't speak english.
Im spanking my child.
You don't HIT a fly, you swat it and a quick swat on the bum is all I suggested. It worked for my mom and her 5 kids. People that don't stop speeding just because they get a fine will never learn and they were probably BEATEN when they were a child. There is a huge difference between a swat, a hit, a punch, and a beating or a caning and I'm not suggesting anything more than a swat. I'm 65 and have never hit, beaten, punched or otherwise hurt a child, teen or an adult. You know, I don't even ever remember crying after the swat because it scared me more than it even hurt. On the bum, nowhere else.
I don't think that there is any "appropriate" level of physical punishment!!!!! The power dynamics are so skewed especially if a child is from 0 years to 4 years old and the adult is soooo much bigger. I raised two wonderful, responsible, kind adults with no corporal punishment at all. If you don't have the patience and skills to be a good parent then go to a parenting class!
This anti-spanking BS is sickening. Anyone that grew up knowing that they were going to get more than a timeout in the corner, knew that you better walk the straight and narrow and listen to your parents or there would be repercussions for inappropriate behavior. These days, parents are told not to discipline their kids, and in places can have legal charges levied against them, we are told instead to only explain to the child what they did wrong. In my opinion one or other is not effective, you need to do both. Explain, discipline, re-explain, and confirm the child understands what they did wrong, why they were disciplined, and what will happen if they repeat the behavior.
Oddly, when those in society say not to discipline, and the children do something to hurt / damage / steal, etc, the parents are held legally responsible for their kids actions. So what is a parent to do? Discipline and correct the problem, or don't and let the undiiscplined child continue to break house or societal rules and be held responsible? Snowflakes & "Experts": Stay out of our homes. A spanking is NOT assault and battery. If a 5 second spanking causing a sting to get your kids attention and will make them think twice about doing it again, IT IS A GOOD THING. I am NOT advocating abuse here people, if it leaves a mark / welt, or still hurts 5-10 minutes after the spanking is issued, that isn't a spanking, that's a beating. Not cool, not right.
Anyone that was born prior to say 1980 has almost undoubtedly has a spanking for something they did as a child. Ask yourself: Were we better behaved as a society before or after 1980? IWere we better adjusted mentally prior to or after 1980? Generally speaking, I believe both questions would indicate we were better before. I'm not saying everything was so great back in the day, but back then if you got in trouble with your parents, your boss, or the law it was a black mark you wanted to avoid, and your would be embarrassed by you bad behavior. Similarly having children out outside of a marriage was looked down upon. It seems like now, they barely get a shrug of the shoulders.
Society is degrading, not only because of lack of discipline, there are many factors, but lack of real discipline is without question is a significant contributing factor. Possibly more of a factor is the loathing of those who are successful, while uplifting mediocrity. I digress, sorry about that.
Dr. Offenwanger, the only statement I agree with you on is "“In the short term, spanking might be effective at stopping a behavior" Good kids with good parents with good values will teach their children through example, and discipline to responsible. Children with unengaged parents, children with certain personalities, and other bad peer examples will be challenged with or without discipline to be of good character, and responsible. We need to accept the fact that without the proper environment any child can go down the wrong path in life, It is up to us as parents, family members, teachers, neighbors, and friends to rather than make excuses, set a positive example everyday. This includes maintaining moral and ethical standard, but also correcting bad behavior to help children to get back on the path to a successful and prosperous life. Snowflakes, and promoting snowflakes, and the whole woe is me mindset, is leading us into a nation of wimpy crybabies that can't or don't want to take care of their own responsibilities and everyone else is to blame.