Why Would Anyone Spank a Child? November 8, 2011

Why Would Anyone Spank a Child?

Conservative Christians promote a lot of awful values, but spanking has to be somewhere near the top of the list. It’s not just the few notable examples of parents who beat their children to the point of death — but parents who spank their kids at all. It makes no sense to think that you could actually “fix behavior” through violence.

Lately, Michael Pearl and Debi Pearl‘s book To Train Up A Child is getting a lot of press because parents who beat their children to death were proponents of the Pearls’ methods of corporal punishment:

In the latest case, Larry and Carri Williams of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., were home-schooling their six children when they adopted a girl and a boy, ages 11 and 7, from Ethiopia in 2008. The two were seen by their new parents as rebellious, according to friends.

Late one night in May this year, the adopted girl, Hana, was found face down, naked and emaciated in the backyard; her death was caused by hypothermia and malnutrition, officials determined. According to the sheriff’s report, the parents had deprived her of food for days at a time and had made her sleep in a cold barn or a closet and shower outside with a hose. And they often whipped her, leaving marks on her legs. The mother had praised the Pearls’ book and given a copy to a friend, the sheriff’s report said. Hana had been beaten the day of her death, the report said, with the 15-inch plastic tube recommended by Mr. Pearl.

“It’s a good spanking instrument,” Mr. Pearl said in the interview. “It’s too light to cause damage to the muscle or the bone.”

The Pearls are firmly against physical abuse — they don’t think their version of spanking constitutes that — but they are feverishly in support of mental and emotional abuse. They want children to fear their parents. They want children to know that stepping out of line will not be tolerated. They want children to believe their parents always know best no matter what.

It’s no way to raise children. While you want to set an example, you also want to teach them that it can be ok to color outside the lines. You want them to challenge authority — in reasonable ways and with good arguments. You want them to experiment and try new things. Along the way, of course they’ll screw up. But hopefully they learn from that.

Physically hitting someone isn’t going to steer them away from what they did. It’s going to make them want to do it more — and it’ll sow the seeds of resentment against you.

Reader Amanda is sickened by this whole ordeal:

The reason it hits home so hard for me was that my best friend for years and years endured physical and verbal abuse throughout her high school years at the hands of her father figure in their conservative, Baptist, Quiverfull home (she was homeschooled, but we met on the rec league soccer team in the town and became fast friends, despite my attending public school). He beat her until he drew blood multiple times, along with who-knows-how-many “accidents” that were a direct result of his violence.

She died last December of a pulmonary embolism (probably complications due to the cast her leg was in from a car accident the month prior). I grieve for her every stupid day — my best friend is dead, after all. But what makes me angry — beyond the fact that she was only 24, beyond the fact that her other 7 siblings have to live in that household, beyond the fact that it happened on my last day of student teaching, beyond the fact that her son would turn 1 three weeks later…all that aside, it enrages me that she died without a single apology or admission of guilt from her “father”. To this day, he hides behind his doctrine to deny guilt.

And that’s one crime of religion that I’ll probably never forgive.

Has spanking ever worked for any of you (as parents)?

If you received them when you were a child, did it steer you in the right direction? Or am I just a naïve person who doesn’t get it because I don’t have children yet?


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  • onujoe85

    My parents spanked me when I was younger and I turned out fine.  There’s a world of difference between spanking and child abuse, in my opinion.

  • everettattebury

    How can something which would be a crime if done to an adult, be perfectly acceptable if done to a child? 

  • Leila

    I was spanked as a child a handful of times from members of my mother’s family, as well as threatened with a cane a few times (this one included teachers where I grew up); I did learn to fear authority figures for a while until my adulthood.  I don’t know if that had a detrimental effect on me as a whole as I found my mother’s more psychological and emotional abuse damaging. 

    My sister on the other hand, before I was born and when I was too young to remember, was apparently horribly beaten by our mother, to the point where she snapped when she was fourteen and finally screamed back at her in frustration as there was often no rhyme nor reason to her “punishments”.  As a result, my sister became very rebellious and angry with our mum until her early twenties.  Nowadays though, she is the only one who can completely stand up against our mother in any argument.

    I have grown up in a society where spanking your children and even spanking other people’s children is seen as the norm and unfortunately there was no real policing of child abuse at the time, so I have seen and heard some horrible stories.  It’s a very very fine line but I am against smacking a child, especially in anger.

  • Anonymous

    I think one of the most crazy making of all of the arguments in favor of corporal punishment is:

    “I got spanked when I was a kid and I turned out fine! It’s not that big of a deal!”

    The problem with this is the huge variety of things that are put under the word “spanking” and also the very very different ways it is employed.

    Take the picture attached to this post. Spanking a two-year old, likely wearing a diaper, for some particularly bad behavior once or twice is one form of discipline. A conversation can be had on whether it is better or worse or how well it works or not. What you cannot do is blithely put it in the same category as this 

    (warning to all two people who haven’t seen it yet, it’s horrific).

    Frequency and the emotion around it counts as well. If a young child is spanked for throwing a rock at another kids face, that’s one thing. If a child knows that any “misbehavior”, from wetting the bed, to not finishing your peas, to getting less than an “A” will result in a spanking, let alone an actual beating, they will live in a constant state of fear. If you’re yelling insults and degrading your child as a form of discipline, it is emotional abuse, and its only worse if you accompany it with actual violence.

    As for religion, it matters not at all. If it’s wrong to do it without religion, it’s wrong to do it with religion. Religion adds exactly zero justification to your actions, and certainly gives you absolutely no right to abuse anyone, much less a child.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    My brothers and I would occasionally receive a quick spank on the butt (or a slap on our palms if we were in the car.) It was never with any instrument and never repeatedly. If it had a negative effect on me, it was probably pretty small, but I realize that I can’t really be sure since I have nothing to compare to; no control group. I believe my self to be pretty well adjusted, but maybe I’d be even better adjusted if we were never hit. Who knows?

    I think it did steer us in the right direction, at least in the short term. We dreaded when our dad would ask us to put out our hands so he could slap them when we messed around in the car. I can’t say much about the long term effects.

  • JR

    When I was younger and even today, my white friends used to listen in horror as I told stories (while laughing) of me and my siblings getting spanked and sometimes hit. Turns out, said white friends who never feared their parents are much worse off than me today. It seems they never learned to consider the consequences of their actions and never feared their parents, a lot of them turned out very spoiled and brat-like to this very day.

    “It’s no way to raise children. While you want to set an example, you
    also want to teach them that it can be ok to color outside the lines.
    You want them to challenge authority — in reasonable ways and with good

    LOL at this. “Now Junior, we’re going to sit down and have an hour long discussion as to why what you did was bad, we’re going to break it down, point-by-point, and then give you a time out that we feeel is proportional to the infraction”.

    I think your viewpoint is somewhat naive Hemant, kids are little devils (pun intended). Now, I don’t have kids myself, but being around many other friends that have children, sometimes, your patience runs VERY thin to the point of genuine anger. Still no excuse for abuse.

  • I

  • Jessica

    I was spanked as a kid and I’m fine. I’m actually pro-spanking. However there are lines. When I say I’m “pro-spanking” I mean you kid is standing in the cart at Walmart and has almost fallen out 5 times so you swat them on the ass, gets the point across without actually hurting them, it’s like when you punch your buddy in the arm only lighter. I in no way condone putting a kid over your knee and spanking them 15 times, that does absolutely nothing. It also should never be an only punishment. There is a whole WORLD of ways to punish a child and get your point across that don’t ever even include touching your kid. Heck there is a whole world of ways to ground your kid, my dad once took everything out of my bed room cept for a blanket and pillow because I didn’t appreciate my stuff enough to put it away. Physical punishment should be a last resort, if you spank your kid all the time they will grow to resent you and it will ruin your relationship with your child! And starving the kid? Making her shower outside when it’s almost winter? What the hell world do these people live in to think this is okay? It is one thing to spank another to abuse. The parents and these authors need to be thrown in jail!!!

  • 59 norris

    You mean like forbidding your 5 year old to go outside at 11 pm to have a few beers with friends?

  • Conspirator

    I think many people who  say “I was spanked as a child and turned out fine” are referring to a simple swat on the butt.  To most people there is a difference between spanking and beating.  

  • Anonymous

    I was spanked lightly and occasionally as a child, and I’m a fine upstanding member of my community.   If used at all, it should be a technique of last resort, used judiciously, calmly, pointedly, etc. 

  • Daniel

    ======quote from I_Claudia===========I think one of the most crazy making of all of the arguments in favor of corporal punishment is:”I got spanked when I was a kid and I turned out fine! It’s not that big of a deal!”[/quote]========End Quote===========As an isolated comment, it’s nothing more than anecdotal evidence and no more scientifically valid than someone saying “My mom spanked me and it caused me severe emotional damage and now I can’t even ride a horse without flashbacks thanks to the bouncing on my butt.”  Anecdotes are not evidence.  However, the “I was spanked and I’m fine” seems to be almost a generation-wide comment.  EVERYONE was spanked at a certain point in history, did we really raise an entire generation of emotionally traumatized people?Spanking is a form of negative reinforcement.  There are some people who don’t believe in negative reinforcement for anyone but “adults.”  I’ve had people scold me for punishing my dog as well as my child, but do you know what?  Both my dog and my daughter are better behaved than average.  A whack on the nose with a newspaper or 10 minutes in the cage makes a dog listen and respect your authority.  An open handed slap on the butt and an hour in the bedroom does the exact same thing to a child.  Beating a child with a rubber hose and depriving them of food for days at a time is clearly child abuse.  Over-the-knee spankings like what is shown in the picture attached to this article are an ancient and well-established form of discipline accepted (and even encouraged) but many child psychologists.

    Finally, I’d like to address this last gem:=========Quote from everettattebury========
    How can something which would be a crime if done to an adult, be perfectly acceptable if done to a child?=============End quote============How can you seriously ask that?  Don’t you know the difference between an adult and a child?  How can an adult change an unwilling child’s diaper when doing that same thing to an adult is sexual assault?  How can you force a child to sleep in your home when they say “no,” when doing that to an adult is kidnapping?  Seriously, do you not realize that children are the responsibility of their parents?  My kid doesn’t want to eat, have her diaper changed, or go to sleep.  I MAKE HER.  That’s what good parents do.  Some parents believe their precious snowflake’s feelings will be hurt if they’re given a few smacks on the ass when they break the rules, some parents realize that doing so will cause the child to more readily recognize and correct bad behavior.

  • Anonymous

    Ever heard the saying: “Spare the rod and spoil the child”

    I hear that “bible” quote a lot used as defense of spankings, which just
    demonstrates how little the proponents actually read their holy book, the
    quote, and it’s variants, does not exist in the gospels. It is adapted from King
    Solomon’s Book of Proverbs, a fact that I point out whenever the subject arises. Sadly, they simply find other way to rationalize it. 

    Growing up, neither of my Parents hesitated to spank or whip
    (belt) me if they felt justified in doing so. I am proud to say my Brother
    & I do not use this as a form of discipline, we punish by withholding privileges
    (TV, Video Games, going out to Movies, hanging out, etc). Each punishment is
    explained, we highlight the mistakes made and what we hope they learn in the process so nothing is repeated.

    His eldest son is in the top 2% of his class, his daughter is in the top 10%, my son is regularly posted on the ‘stars’ wall of his kindergarten. By any indication, these are great kids, proof that children can be raised without raising a single hand at them.

  • Zac

    While agree with what you’re saying to a point, people have to understand that in order to raise a child sometimes “harm” is necessary. If you disagree then you simply don’t understand how learning works in children. Obviously if you look at the extreme examples of emotional and physical abuse you’ll get head cases but children raised by parents who never punish can be just as bad. Sure, they may be happier but they’re not productive or welcome members of society. Imagine a person who thinks that nothing they do could ever be worthy of punishment, that whatever they do the worse they can face is no reward.

  • Anonymous

    I have amazing parents and they spanked me as a kid. To me, there’s a difference between a spank that shocks and disquiets a kid (which can be effective and reasonable) and a spank that actually hurts the kid.

  • Gutobr

    As a white person who was spanked….spanking did nothing to promote good behavior by me or my rebellious brother. I was the good son and now I barely ever talk to my parents. The spanking just made my parents feel like they did something but I never thought to avoid misbehavior to avoid it. To see children as “little devils” is wrong. They need discipline and guidance not beatings.

  • Ronlawhouston

    I think if you talk to most Americans over 50, almost all were spanked when we were kids.  It was sort of the way things were done.  (Where’s that monkey cartoon?)

    I think like many things in culture that meme is evolving.  The types of spankings given back in the day are now viewed as over the top.  Schools no longer give “pops.”  The question is whether corporal punishment will eventually disappear altogether.

  • John Michael Strubhart

    I got spanked on rare occasions both at home and at school.  All it ever taught me was that bigger people could hurt me and if I wanted to do something they didn’t like, I best not get caught doing it.  It actually added some thrill to misbehaving.  No one ever said why it was wrong to do something you might get spanked for – only that it wasn’t allowed and if you did it, you were getting whipped.  That’s not the way I would raise a child.  I think that the best way to raise a child is through example, repeated instruction and willingness to let a child explore and then talk about that exploration with him or her.  

  • Guest

    My wife and I spank ours from time to time.  It’s almost always as a result of a failure to listen, and we warn ahead of time and do the “Count to three” thing as well.  Should we have to follow through with the quick swat on the tuchus, we are ALWAYS sure to explain why we did it and we ALWAYS make up with the kid immediately afterwards. 

    I should note that the warning and counting almost always work, so we don’t have to follow through with the consequences of having to dole out a spanking. 

    In my limited experience as a parent, I’ve found that the line between spanking and abuse is a lot wider than I expected it to be.  It seems to me to come from a completely different place; on the occasion that I’ve got to spank my kid, I’m certainly angry, but not uncontrollably so.  There’s always a lesson and an opportunity to connect with my daughter.  My wife and I are both on the same page, and we both handle it exactly the same. 

    In the instances where we’re too angry to deal with the kid (and hoo boy it’ll happen to you if it hasn’t already), it’s important to have a contingency plan of some kind (i.e., have the spouse take care of the discipline). 

    Of course, all this said, I don’t see myself as someone who abuses people and I’m lucky enough to not be a victim of abuse.  I didn’t really get spanked as a kid (maybe a few times; nothing that sticks in the memory, though), either, so who’s to say?  Not that I’m an authority on parenting or anything, but the quick swat might work for some people who tend towards being of an even temperament. 

  • Conspirator

    Children are not rational.  You cannot sit down with a two year old and calmly discuss with them why whatever behavior they engaged in is wrong.  Often they learn that if they are not dealt a significant punishment they can throw a tantrum and wear you down.  A spanking gets a kid’s attention, and it often doesn’t take much.  I got a friend who can give his daughter an affectionate pat on the butt using the same amount of force as when he spanks her, and only when she’s being punished does it “hurt” her.  

    Now I know, someone will post that they can do this with their child, and maybe that’s true.  Of course in this overly touchy-feely, extra sensitive crowd we have in the atheist/agnostic/skeptic community there are also folks who were traumatized as a child when they found out Santa wasn’t real and would never lie to their children like that.  Oh the horror! Well quite frankly, I don’t put much stock in the opinions of those kinds of people.  

    But there is a huge difference between swatting a kid on the butt and using a cane, switch, belt, etc.  There’s nothing to gain from that.  This preacher talks about starting corporal punishment at 6 months!  That’s just horrible.  His motives are about establishing fear and authority and forcing submission.  

  • Jadesrayne

    I was spanked, but I also think my dads way was best. One: he explained why I was being punished, two: even though I was spanked with a belt it never hurt. I have a son who is 1 and I haven’t decided if I will spank after he is over 5 but I already explain to why he gets in trouble, and praise him when he does great things.

  • Gutobr

    Absolutely, the quick slaps cause short term results, but as an adult you don’t behave to avoid the slaps. You do what is right because of self-discipline and the guidance you received.

  • dersk

    Don’t spank my daughter, and as a parent I think it’s dangerous and a cop-out to spank. It gives the message that violence is an appropriate way to resolve problems, and it just plain isn’t in my opinion. But I’m pretty sure it’s illegal over here anyway (Holland).

    That said, I think my mom even broke a wooden spoon on my butt once and I think I turned out okay (if I recall correctly, I was only spanked once or twice).

  • I hate when people use “I was spanked and i’m okay!” as an excuse. I’ve also heard “i was raped and I’m okay!”- the fact is that “okay” is subjective. You have no idea how you would have turned out as a person if you weren’t hit as a child. My sister says the same thing “we were spanked and we’re fine!” and yet she started doing drugs in middle school, ran away quite a lot, joined a gang, is married to an abusive cheater, has four kids, no job opportunities, and suffers from crippling anxiety and depression.. but you know.. she’s okay. Just because we don’t turn into shells in a mental ward or murderous sociopaths doesn’t mean we’re okay. People who grow up with physical violence are more likely to continue that cycle of violence- that in and of itself proves that most people don’t turn out “okay”. More so, you cannot expect everyone to be like you- just because you didn’t respond in a certain way doesn’t mean someone else won’t. Good for you- you’re part of the minority of people who were abused as children who grew up to be successful, happy, and have no ill side effects (that you know of), but you *are* the minority. It’s simply not worth it to risk it. 

    I would never *ever* physically attack my child. He loves me and he trusts me to protect and love him. Breaking that trust would be a horrible t hing. Making my own child fear me would be heartbreaking. Hitting a child is never okay. It’s assault and I look forward to when  it’s illegal in every state in this country. 

  • Stella

    You forgot the very best line of the article: right at the end. When
    asked to weigh in on the fact that all three children who died were
    adoptees, Pearl said he opposed older child adoption.

    It can’t be his parenting philosophy that went wrong. No… it was the children!  Instead of saying “Maybe my approach is bad for certain categories of children,” or “I guess I made a mistake” or even a simple “I don’t know,” he diverts responsibility by passing judgment on the only other connecting factor shared by the three dead children.

    If someone uses his methodology to kill an autistic child, I wonder what he’d say about that. 


  • Tim

    I have two kids a son of 5 and a daughter of 2 1/2.

    I have smacked my son (a single slap on the bottom) a very few times (probably less than 20 times in 3 years) when very naughty and with plenty of warning.  Whilst it didn’t do him any harm, it sure didn’t work.

    A proper beating is clearly child abuse and shouldn’t be allowed (and would be illegal in England and Wales), but the problem with the occassional light slap (“reasonable chastisement” under English law) is that it absolutely counts for nothing and achives nothing with a stubbon child (and my son can be a stubbon as his Dad) unless you are willing to follow it up with more violence which I was not willing to do.  My view is that the very occassional smack is harmless and we shouldn’t be too prissy about it (it is wrong to expect parents to be right all the time- we are only human), but that it is ultimately futile amd pointless.  So although I have smacked occassionally, it isn’t something I am proud of.  I wouldn’t smack him nowadays because I now realise that it is the kind of thing that would teach him that it’s OK to hurt his sister which we don’t want. 

    The punishment that has far and away the strongest impact on my son is to ignore him for a few minutes.  He cannot stand it.  I wouldn’t advocate it an an alternative to smacking though because I reckon it clearly causes far more distress (and therefore potential phycological harm) than smacking (which he shrugged off thereby re-inforcing my opinion that it was futile).

    There is no easy answer.  If anyone says that tehr eis they are lying.  The thing that does work though (most of the time) is telling him that you are proud of him when he behavies well.   

  • Steve

    Well said.

  • That’s the opposite of what everettattebury said. Our children deserve more protection, not less.

  • Aaronajackman

    I’m a parent of two young children and I’m struggling with this one. I remember being spanked twice by father (maybe I’ve blocked out the other times!) for lying. I still lie now, but it made me realise the importance of trying to be truthful with the ones I love. He always told me he loved me after he spanked me and explained the reason why he’d done it. Now I have a 2 yr old daughter who is very strong willed and can be disobedient to the point of frustration. We use the ‘time out’ chair as much as possible but have resorted to spanking when the chair has not been nearby. I must admit that I don’t like it; firstly because it provokes a sense of power in me that I don’t like, and secondly because I worry that I might hurt her too much. If I told my daughter to wait while crossing the road and she went and did it anyway, I would see the sense in a short sharp shock to help her realise the importance of being safe. However, I’m going to stick with the ‘time out’ chair for as long as possible and then resort to grounding and confiscation when old enough to understand.

  •  I think there is mass confusion between the swat on the butt that is often referred to as spanking and the full on corporal punishment that is the belt/switch/repeated beating.

    Speaking as a parent there are times a swat on the butt is needed to bring focus. It’s a final option though, otherwise it loses it’s potency. Kids aren’t dumb, they do get things when explained to them (how they need to act, why certain behaviors are bad or dangerous). Regardless, they will push those boundaries. It’s when those boundaries are pushed to the point that they are putting themselves or another in grave physical danger (ie They want to run across the road/parking lot) that as a parent you must physically restrain or spank your kid (read swat on the butt) to make them realize your explanation is extremely  serious.

    “Or am I just a naïve person who doesn’t get it because I don’t have children yet?” Well, it helps greatly to walk in a parent’s shoes to understand why sometimes a swat on the butt is needed – and  that there is a gulf between that and the corporal punishment recommended in To Train Up A Child.

  • B-Lar

    Damn right. Child abuse is when a parent turns to spanking as a first resort, and does so with anger in their veins.

    I was only spanked when I was willfully out of order and refused the opportunity to be reasonable.

  • Katie Jacobs

    I have similar experience.  Being hit by my parents only made me decide they were not to be trusted.  Imagine you’re at work and your boss decides to spank you for coming in late.  Or you get pulled over for driving too fast and the cop takes off his belt and gives you a few lashes by the side of the road.  Do you think it will make you respect these people and their authority?  I had the exact same reaction to my parents then as a child as I would have as an adult in these hypothetical situations.  Humiliation, anger and a poor opinion of these people who are supposedly “doing it for my own good.”

    The reason these children were beaten to death is because some kids know they don’t deserve to be mistreated and will fight to their dying breath against being hurt and having their will subjugated.  If hitting your kid is the only tool you’re going to use and it doesn’t work, you either have to give up or hit harder.  “To Train Up a Child” tells parents to hit harder. 

  • Anonymous

    While I was spanked while growing up, I don’t remember that it was a particularly effective technique.

    My wife and I did not spank our sons as they were growing up, we used consistent logical consequences (which does take more work on the part of the parents). As our sons grew up and saw other children misbehaving, they did not understand why the other children would behave in those ways, since in their minds, the consequences of such actions would be non-productive.

  • Wwjzoog

    As a kid who was mentally & emotionally tormented and subsequently emotionally starved, I would have begged for the fists of fury, just for the attention. “I’m ok” really isn’t a valid argument. My dad was “disciplined”. He reciprocated his feelings by swearing to never spank. He did occasionally, but the weapon he wielded best was his mind. Destroying a child for the sake of a ‘healthy’ fear is grossly disturbing. I guess it is very God like though.

  • guest

    I was spanked as a child in my born-again christian family who made light of “spare the rod, spoil the child.”  All kidding aside, they never took it too far and it taught me a couple things.  First, if I’m going to misbehave, there’s going to be a consequence for it.  End of story.  Second, it taught me negotiating skills.  Usually punishments were either spankings or grounding to our rooms (no tv’s in there, pretty lonely).  I would negotiate how many spankings I would like to take instead of staying in my room all night.  I always thought spankings were quicker.  To give my dad credit, after handing out punishments whether they were spankings or groundings or taking something away, he always hugged us and joked around with us afterward to show he was not still mad and he still loved us.  He would also usually explain why we were being punished or what about our behavior we could’ve changed. 
    Someone else said it:  You can’t reason with a 2 year old, so you spank or pat their bottoms.  It may continue into later years but it never continued into teenage years.  By that time we knew there were consequences for our actions and there were other ways to give out effective punishments.  There’s no reason to continue corporal punishment into teenage years.  But I agree, sometimes the only way to get through to a child who has not yet developed reasoning skills is to give immediate effective punishment such as a spanking, but never with anything other than an open hand and never in anger.

  • Josh

    I think a light spanking now and then both helped to guide me toward better behavior and instilled just a bit of what I think of now as a healthy mistrust of authority figures.

    Of course I was never hit hard nor was spanking common and I also always got an explaination to go with any punishment.

  • inomniaparatus

    I agree. I was spanked only on rare occasions when my parents REALLY wanted to instill in me that something was dangerous or bad. And only when I was really little. One example was when I tried to run out into the street. They didn’t enjoy doing it, and they didn’t do it with anger. There is a HUGE difference between spanking and beating. One swift slap on the butt that causes no more than a second of pain vs beating a child with a plastic tube, there is a very big difference. I think that in certain cases, mild spanking can help reinforce that something is dangerous or bad. 

  • Tim

    completely agree with the last para JR. Hemant does sound a bit naive.  I am not sure he fully recognises that there is a big difference between being rebellious and non-conformist and being naughty.  The first is fine the second is not and cannot be ignored.  We are not talking about kids colouring outside the lines, they can do much worse things than that (deliberately and copiously pissing against the sofa (whilst saying  – “look daddy I am being nuaghty”), hitting and stealing from other kids, that kinda thing)  Kids can be very hard work.  they are also very smart.  They have evolved to be manipulative so-and-sos.  Even very young kids know exactly what to do to wind their parents up.   The most difficult thing to do I think is to try and separate your anger (which is about you) from the punishment (which is about them).  Easier said than done, but trying counts for a lot.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, which is why it’s so frustrating to hear that as a response to child abuse. I think most folks have gotten a swat at least when they were very young (though probably not Hemant, because of his family’s religion) but a swat on the butt when you’re a toddler once or twice holds virtually no relationship to regular beatings and insults. I’m not saying there aren’t gray areas, but usually people bring up the very minor spankings they got or give their kids in response to positively horrific things like that posted above. There really is no need to, since these behaviors exist in different moral universes, for the most part.

  • Anonymous

    Actually it is not exactly the opposite of what everettattebury said. Forbidding (or physically preventing) a 30 year old to go outside at 11 pm would be kidnapping. But forbidding
    (or physically preventing)
     a 5 year old from doing so would be protecting them. 59 norris was providing an example of how something which would be a crime if done to an adult is perfectly acceptable if done to a child. 

  • deityfree

    Spanking was a cornerstone of my childhood… wooden board with holes in it so Dad could swing it faster… sometimes bare-assed. I think I’ve spanked my son maybe 5 times. I look at hat picture now and it bothers my stomach.

  • JR

    Wholeheartedly agreed.

  • Awiggin3

    I believe that spanking is an effective tool to be used for young children in extreme circumstances.  If your child is doing something that is dangerous to their life or well-being, such as playing with knives, a smack on the butt may keep them from putting themselves in danger until they are able to understand why it is that they cannot do that.  Some lessons cannot be learned first hand.  But spanking should be a last resort for extreme cases, and only until the child is old enough to process things for themselves.

  • Travis Deshotels

    I was spanked when I was too young to really care about having things taken away. It was only when I deserved it, and I was given a warning. Believe me, Hement, when my parents told me to do something or get the spanking, I would listen to them.

    I never got suspended from school or given a detention, cause I knew what would happen if I went home with a suspension. I also never got in any fights.

    Different methods probably work better for different kids, thou.

  • Tim

    my own recolection about being smacked as a kid myself is that I don;t think it did me any harm but I don’t think it achived anything.  I can remember at quite a young age (5, 6?0 deliberately deciding to manipulate my parents into smacking me, sending me to my room, making me cry etc , so that I could wind myself up into an emotional frenzy to such an extent that they would feel bad about it and give me hugs and chocolate to compensate.  I have since appologised to them for being such a git.

  • Wwjzoog

    I like what you said, but chuckled at apologizing immediately after the spanking. It just strikes of every spousal abuse story I hear about. They always seem to say sorry after the fight.
    More importantly, you and your wife work together as a team, a lesson a lot of parenting couples could use.

  • Mrs. B.

    My brother, sister and I were spanked by our parents – amost always our mother. I actually never remember being hit by my father, but I’m sure he must have spatted us on the butt. I remember being slapped in the face once for swearing when I was about 8 – this from a woman who could curse like a sailor. None of us were ever beaten or punched or kicked or left the house with bruises anywhere. I think there is a difference between a quick smack to get a point across, and outright assault, which should be prosecuted.

    I can also remember being quite a brat at times, and politely reasoning with me at that stage wouldn’t have made me behave. Most importantly, even though I was occasionally disciplined with spanking or slapping or an insulting verbal harangue, I remember growing up knowing my parents loved all of us and wanted what was best for us. Seems odd.

    Also, how many of you were hit as kids by your parents, but they wouldn’t let you hit each other? Raise your hands. Mine’s up.

    However, I also remember my mother telling me that my father had told her, when my sister and I would have been maybe 4 and 6, that from that point on he was not going to be the one to hit us if we needed it – it was up to her. I will be forever grateful to him that I didn’t grow up thinking that it was acceptable for a man to hit me, ever, for any reason.

    On the other hand, my brother and his wife tried raising their two kids without any physical punishment and had two of the brattiest, nastiest little kids I’ve ever had the displeasure to be around. Maybe there’s a fine line somewhere or a kid’s personality type or something where they are eager enough to please their parents that they will try and behave. Most kids want their parent’s approval, but all kids will test those limits. Some test to the point that I think even Gandhi would have been tempted to give them a smack upside the head.

    I can’t say what the effect of being hit has had on me, except that I am not inclined to take much crap of any kind from anybody.

    I also truly think as much or more damage can be done to children who have their confidence and self-worth chipped away at verbally — they’re stupid, they’re ugly, they’ll never amount to anything, and on and on. Fortunately, I never experienced that and have always thought that a spanking was far, far less damaging.

  • Ubi Dubium

    I have two kids, and I don’t spank.  I think kids need to learn that their actions have consequences, but those consequences need to be as related to the actions as we can manage.  Misbehaving with a toy results in the loss of the toy.  Throwing a demanding tantrum results in their not getting whatever was being demanded.  Abuse of a privilege should result in suspension of that privilege.  So a violent response would only ever be warranted in response to violence from the child.

    BUT – they learn so much from our own behavior.   Spanking them tells them that violence is a good solution to problems.  That’s not something that I want to instill in my children.

  • Anonymous

    There are also Christian-influenced books out there that literally advocate breaking a child’s will through physical punishment and conditioning methods you’d only use on animals otherwise.

    That kind of discipline is systematic and constant. Not an occasional punishment in rare situations

  • I hate spanking children, be it a swat on the butt or what have you. People who say I was spanked and turned out fine, don’t realize how sick they are, because they believe it’s okay to hit a child, and it’s not. Children are not dogs, and they aren’t even your property. I have two kids and I never act like I own them, I don’t force anything on them. I respect them as the individual human beings with their own personalities that they are. And they act one million times better than my friends kids who are spanked,  those kids display pathological lying and aggressive behavior. I use a page called peaceful parenting and a few other resources and my gut instincts and it works out great. 

  • I  was raised on Michael and Debi Pearl’s discipline methods. I address them on my blog here and here.

  • Nena

    I agree with this wholeheartedly. The policy her father and I held with my daughter was that if something was physically dangerous, and she did it after being warned, that warranted a spanking. Only a swat on the bottom with the hand, we would have never used a belt or a paddle or anything like that. Our thoughts were that we wanted her to associate the dangerous activity (such as running out into the street) with pain. It isn’t pleasant, and perhaps we were wrong; but it’s how we handled it. And she has turned out to be an awesome young lady, and doesn’t fear or resent us at all.

  • Also, in my not so humble opinion, I didn’t gain ANYTHING from being spanked as a child. All I remember was my inner rage and shame. 

  • Anonymous

    Use pointy brackets for formatting. The correct code is “blockquote” within

  • Sware

    I too was spanked along with all of my siblings.  Spanking meaning with an open hand to the rear and no instruments of any kind.  Also it was used only as a very last resort, usually I was grounded but if I continued the same poor behavior after multiple groundings…that was usually it and I admit it had the intended effect.  I recall less than a handful of times this happened and today I suffer no horrors or flashbacks or feelings of resentment or humiliation over it though I know for a fact that my parents are of the generation where pretty brutal whippings were considered norm.  I love and respect my parents very much.  Also I do not go around using violence myself to solve my problems as an adult.  With my own children pretty much the same has been applied with the addition of time outs.  I don’t resort to spanking much if at all.  As a previous comment alluded to, spanking is a pretty general term and a pretty broad range of “method” gets lumped together muddying the whole conversation.

    My oldest  is now 20 and a memory from her mid teens that I find very telling of her upbringing was a time that she got into trouble and my use of the words, “you have really disappointed me this time” shook her worse than anything I’d ever seen.  In the moment, I honestly felt that the phrase was going to fall on deaf ears as prior conversations had but this one really bothered her the most.

  • DeafAtheist

    I don’t like spanking. But I DO see it is sometimes necessary as a last resort. If your child is repeatedly ignoring your instructions or even being defiant and saying “NO!” when you tell them to do something like picking up their toys. A swift smack on the butt with your hand to get your point across isn’t abusive. But I still try to avoid it as long as possible by using other means of discipline… like not letting my son watch TV if he doesn’t listen or something. 

  • Gus Snarp

    I’ve never hit my children and never would, so I can’t say whether it worked for me as a parent. I also can’t say whether it worked on me as a child. I was a fairly obedient child, and I definitely feared my parents response if I got in trouble. But I don’t know that I really acted to avoid spankings more than general disappointment. I only consciously remember two incidents involving spankings, both when I was older. In the first case I was afraid to take the trash out in the dark, and unwilling to tell my father I was afraid, so I got spanked for refusing to take the trash out. It didn’t work. I was more afraid of the dark unknown than of the spanking. The second, my mother reacted in anger to something I said and tried to spank me with the wooden paddle that had long been kept on hand for the purpose, but I was fifteen and I swung my fist down to protect my backside and split the paddle in two. No one ever spanked me again. That kind of spanking is the worst kind, and what allowing yourself to spank leads to: reacting with violence in anger rather than using spanking as a specific punishment for a specific act. That teaches children to react with violence when they get angry, and it doesn’t provide good guidance in any way because the child knows they are being spanked because the parent is angry, not because of the specific act. I think allowing yourself to ever spank opens the door to spanking in anger, which is simply unacceptable.

    One more thing from my youth tells me anecdotally that spanking doesn’t work. At my school spanking was a common punishment, and there was an unwritten rule that for many offenses you could receive 3 “licks” or three days of detention or suspension, I  don’t recall which, and your parents would only be informed of the offense if you took the time over the spanking (clearly trying to teach troublesome boys to be tough, which is stupid on it’s face). Everyone always took the licks, and they never changed their behavior. They just learned that if they could take a few minutes of pain, they could do as they wished.

  • Wwjzoog

    Reading all these comments, I think to myself, being punished or ‘encouraged’ to think differently or act accordingly, I think we tried that when we ‘cattled’ humans from the coast of Africa to America. I wonder if it taught them to be more respectful of their masters? I know it sounds extreme, but we are not the masters of small humans, rather the cultivators of great minds. Violence begets violence and violence shows in more way than the physical. Short term or long term, there is an immediate unfairness to it. There is a whole lot of defense for something that is so seemingly harmless…

  • Dan O.

    Wow.  All these anecdata from people who are spanked but are “okay”.   My impression was that atheists care about evidence, not anecdotes.   So, what about that evidence?  Turns out, spanking creates, on average, more aggressive kids.  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/5/e1057

    Here’s the expert:  http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mas2/

    But why check the data, when you’re a brilliant Hobbsian like Zac or JR?

     A quote from an important 2006 article from Salon:

    “And what of people who say, “I was spanked and I’m OK! I love my parents, I’m not a delinquent, I never hit my wife”? “They’re telling the truth,” Straus says. “It’s about probability. One-third of heavy smokers will die of lung cancer, say, but two-thirds will not. That doesn’t mean smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer. The implication to me is that people who were spanked and are OK are, like that other two-thirds, the lucky ones.”

    The link: http://www.salon.com/2006/05/25/the_pearls/

    As a parent of a toddler, I realize that toddler learning normally involves overgeneralizing a new behavior which then gets limited to more narrow contexts, through experience.  If you hit a toddler, you get a toddler who will hit others, but will eventually learn to use violence to get what he or she wants.  

    The result?  People who advocate “refined” violence.  Great. 

    It also means that the brutes who may punch my kid at school are probably repeating learned behaviors.   

  • JR

    Spanking’s ON ITS OWN is not supposed to promote good behavior, it’s supposed to reinforce the negative consequences of bad actions, that’s why I mentioned that.

    Also, I said “little devils” with pun intended. You’re reading too much into my sentences.

  • Gus Snarp

    You make your child eat? How’s that work?

    My dog is incredibly well behaved. I got him at 6 years old and he was a wild terror. I took him to obedience school and started working with him and now he is quite obedient, but I never hit him, even with a newspaper. If he does wrong he gets a firm no and no further attention. Works like a charm.

    My children have never been hit either, even a mild spanking. They get a brief time out if their behavior needs to be stopped immediately or they are willfully disobedient.

    I have children and a dog who have never known pain at my hands, who will never cower at my raised hand, nor feel anger or resentment toward me, and I never have to feel bad for having caused them undue pain.

    We both get the same result of general good behavior, but one of us feels better about it and doesn’t feel the need to justify his behavior to people who have just made general comments about spanking.

  • This is a bit off-topic, but my mother once read that the best way to discipline a child having a tantrum was to dump a glass of water over her head.

    Suffice it to say, though I had been spanked in the past, this is the one punishment I truly remember. And let’s also say that it did NOT work. I went ballistic.

    My mom still gets teary with embarrassment when I bring it up. (I forgive her. She’s pretty great.)

  • Michael Campbell

    Spanking = a parent’s last resort when they don’t have the ability or the intelligence to think of another effective way to punish a child.  Let’s call a spade a spade here… Spanking is HITTING your kid.  If you honestly think hitting your child in ANY way is a long-term, effective way to foster a loving, trusting relationship with your children, you’re as delusional as those who believe in the gods.  Listen… I have two girls ages 11 and 8.  My youngest one can be a holy terror sometimes.  I have never, ever thought about hitting her to get her to behave or to punish for a wrongdoing.  I also agree with another poster who said that kids’ minds are irrational and not like an adult.  However, nobody said parenting was easy.  Sometimes you actually have to research through books and other resources and figure out what type of  non-violent punishment works for your child.  If I ever hit my daughters they would never think of me the same again and I would be heartbroken.  I would hope that if you belong to this atheist/humanist/free-thinking community that “you’re better than that”.

  • Spanky

    You are naive Hemant. Obviously you don’t “beat” a child, but you can most definitely correct them with a swat to the bottom. I received swats when I was kid.Never prolonged spankings, and not a lot of them. Nor were they particularly hard, but they were most definitely effective in setting me straight. I have “swatted” my kids on the behind at times, again, not very hard or often, but it gets their attention and let’s them know that they’re behavior or actions were wrong.

    Timeouts are fine when children are very young. You never want to use physical force with small children and I don’t condone anything more than swat on the bottom as a correction or the grabbing of an arm to stop a child fom hurting himself or another person. Again, these must be done under control and without intent to harm, only to correct. Unfortuantely, many adults go too far when it comes to using physical force for disciplinary reasons.

    Are we not animals? Ever watch a dog, cat  or other large mammal discipline its young? They too use physical force and reactions to correct behavior but never to harm their offspring. Obviously there is a big difference between us and most mammals, but I’m just pointing out that physical force appears to be quite common among parents of all species.

    I’d also like to point out that some of the people I’ve come across that were raised by parents that did not spank are some of the most rude, disrespectful, entitled,  little brats I’ve ever come across. One needs to realize that they need to treat others with respect and that there are repurcussions based on ones actions. If a parent fails to teach them this lesson, then those parents are no better than child abusers that turn out psychologically damaged children into the world IMO. I think a few of those kids could have used a swat or two on their back sides when they were younger.

  • Have you ever tried to reason with a 2 year old? It doesn’t work very well. They aren’t psychologically advanced enough to understand complex verbal associations. They still at a mostly physical level of understanding. Most toddlers still want to put nearly everything they come in contact with in their mouths or touch obviously hot things. Telling them to stay away from a wood stove because it’s hot and will burn them won’t really have an impression on them. If it did there wouldn’t be a need for gates and nifty contraptions to create distance from these objects. Sometimes, even for adults, pain is necessary to understand the negative consequences of an action. I’m not saying you should let your kid touch a super hot stove just so they get burned. That would be ridiculous. It’s more like letting your 5 year old fall over with their bike in the driveway, and when they cry about their scraped knee you reply with “that’s why I told you to slow down and be careful on the gravel.” I can’t get mt nearly 1 year old daughter to quit playing with and trying to chew on this one wire in our living room. It’s presence is necessary but blocking it off is also impossible because of the location. All that positive reinforcement and bribing her with more exciting things isn’t working. She sure as heck isn’t going to understand if I sit her down and explain the dangers of electrical currents. Spanking is probably going to end up being the only thing that keeps her from using the fan cord as a chew toy, and I’d much rather she dealt with that than getting shocked. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t explain the reasons for not playing with wires when she’s older and able to understand, but at 1 my words will only be words.

  • Anonymous

    I was spanked and whipped, I turned out fine, but I don’t employ these practices in raising my own son. The reality of the “I turned out fine” argument is that it speaks to one’s ability to survive traumatic experiences, it does not absolve the action nor does it imply the action is ‘OK’.

    For example, I am a 9/11 survivor, I can honestly say a group of terrorist dropped a building on me, I turned out fine. Does that mean it is OK to keep dropping buildings on me? Other survivors, whose experiences where less traumatic have required years of therapy. Trauma, and our ability to manage it, does not apply equally to everyone.

    To be honest, a lighthearted smack to a 2 year old’s hand is hardly traumatic, the problem comes when we as parents overvalue it’s usefulness. Which means,  the small smack has to grow in tandem with the child, only hindsight can tell you when it has gone too far, at which point the damage is done.

    (disclaimer: I am not equating spankings with terrorism, simply using an extreme to make the point easier to see)

  • Valhar2000

    Everybody knows aspies are of the devil!

  • Anonymous

    LOL. Had to laugh, it was funny.

  • I don’t spank my kids. I have three boys ages 14, 10, and 8. I have tried the spanking concept with each of my children. I was spanked as a child. It, along with grounding, were the only methods of discipline my parents incorporated. As a result, it was the only thing I learned.

    This was what I learned from spanking my own children: my oldest has always been a basically good kid- spanking just hurt him, emotionally; my middle son was unaffected by spanking. He’s the one that would be beaten to death by another parent (more on that later). My youngest son responds well to spanking. In fact, he responds well to any form of punishment, so why spank him?Spanking is not necessary to discipline children. In fact, it’s not really discipline, it’s punishment. I am attempting to raise children who able discipline and control themselves, not be dependent on external forces to impose discipline on them. 

    For my middle son, who is, quite frankly, my most difficult child, the key is not punishment. He doesn’t really respond to it. He doesn’t care if he’s going to get punished for something. If it’s something that is important to him, he’s going to weigh the chances of getting punished and then go ahead and do it. He needs guidance before he does things. He needs consistent love, food, sleep, schedule, and mental stimulation. If he has those things, he’s golden. 

    In my experience, spanking is a copout. It’s the easy way out, yet it doesn’t actually solve any problems.

  • I, for the most part, agree with you. Whenever I see posts saying “spanking is absolutely horrible and this child abuse can’t be tolerated”, it just makes me sad that even in a group of people who claim to adhere to reason, there’s still polarized, two-dimensional thinking.

  • Erik

    68 comments. The word study has come up 0 times, the word paper 0 times, the word journal 0 times, the word research once. I wonder if this is an emotionally charged subject for some people?

  • Saltyestelle

    It is never okay to use violence to teach children.  Simple.  There are hundreds of ways to deliver effective consequences without spanking, swatting, hitting, slapping, whooping,  or any of those other euphemisms for violence.  Just takes a bit more thought and effort.

      “people have to understand that in order to raise a child sometimes “harm” is necessary.”    Um, no.   Instilling fear in a child is not necessary to teach them how to be good.  We as a society are still attached to an immature, patriarchal, authoritarian system, and as Americans we glorify and worship violence.  And guess what our children learn from this?  They learn about power, control and bullying.  They learn how violent words and actions are acceptable and encouraged.  Children who are bullied by their parents go on to bully other children.  All of the research on this topic indicates that spanking, even mild spanking, does more harm than good.  Examine the evidence for yourself.  

  • I was spanked and occasionally beaten, emotionally abused and humiliated. A common occurrence growing up was running to my room to lock the door while being chased and yelled at to “obey your father and mother”. If I didn’t come out to be spanked my door would get removed. I was very afraid of my parents.

    I knew that this was NOT right and not the way I wanted to raise my children. I was also afraid of what my parents would do as grandparents. I gave them an ultimatum that has still held up 12 years later – if they hit or spank my children, they will lose access to them ever again.  my kids tell me that she has said that she wished she could spank them, but holds back so I won’t take them away from her forever. I suppose she is trying to make me out as the bad guy but my kids know better and pity her angry heart.

    There are many more ways to discipline kids even the youngest most non-verbal ones. the Positive discipline book series is a great one.  I have used many techniques, but spanking has never been one of them, nor has humiliation, verbal or emotional abuse, or anything more than an occasional raised voice. 

    I took a babysitting course at 12 and learned more about parenting than my parents knew.

  • Yeah, that must be it. The parents who spank their kids are simply not as intelligent or caring as you. Thanks for finding the simplest answer, and pointing it out in a ridiculously condescending way.

  • Spanky

    So if I swat an adult on the behind with an open hand I’m going to get arrested? How the hell do athletes get away with it every day? A swat on the behind is not the same thing as physically attacking or abusing someone. Responsible adults know the difference.

  • The Pearls actually advise putting your children in a position to get in trouble, then spanking them. They also advise never to punish your children in anger. It’s not about the anger. Whether you beat your child because you think it is the right thing to do, or because you are angry, it’s still abuse.

  • Dan O.

    Hello, false dichotomy. 

    1. You can’t have a talk about right and wrong with a two year old.  But, 
    2. You can feed them a substitute, acceptable, behavior.  Toddlers love suggestions about what *they* can do. 
    3. Some tantrums are unavoidable, but the tantrum itself is punishment enough.  Allow the tantrum to run its course.   Try timing a tantrum.  They’re surprisingly short.

    I suppose if extra-sensitive or touchy-feely is an insult, so is unimaginative and lazy. 

  • What a moron. All research does point to serious emotional and physical damage from all types of punishment http://www.alfiekohn.org/index.php and http://childmyths.blogspot.com/

  • My father and mother spanked and hit me as a child. My father used a belt and my parents gave wooden spoons to our babysitters to hit us with. When I was 15 I grabbed my fathers wrist as he was about to strike me. I was much stronger than he was by then and could have broken his arm. I looked into his eyes and let go of his wrist. Nothing like that ever happened again. I cannot and will not trust him again. This is the price he must pay for hitting a child. Violence only teaches violence. Love teaches love.

  • This has been the most reasonable comment I’ve seen so far. Spanking isn’t meant to hurt a child into submission. It’s a way of getting their attention when speaking to them hasn’t worked.

    Only when you start hitting them hard enough to hurt them does it become something to be concerned about. That distinction is severely lacking in this thread.

    We also shouldn’t forget that just because a parent isn’t hitting their child, doesn’t mean they’re not abusing them.

  • Saltyestelle

     Observational learning:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHi2dxSf9hw

  • Zachary Aletheia

    I think i might have been spanked once and i don’t think it did anything to help with my behavior. I seem to be quite “well off”. I don’t drink, smoke or do drugs and i never have. 

    How about we stop with the anecdotes at look at the data!

  • Zachary Aletheia

    Its been shown that punishment in general (this includes whats called negative and postive : time out being the former and spanking being the later) doesn’t work as well as reinforcement but to human it seems to because of whats called the regression to the mean.

  • Michael Campbell

    Well, if you’re intelligent enough than that means that you have educated yourself by seeing that today’s research clearly states that hitting your child is counterproductive in so many ways.  Then it becomes your ability to take that research and apply it.  I’m guessing by your comment that you might not have the ability (or maybe the desire) to do so.  That’s assuming you hit them, I don’t know.  Or maybe you’re just standing up for the others that hit their kids.

  • Epiphanott

    I hate my parents for hitting me. Idiots.

  • Gus Snarp

    The rationalizations for spanking here are fascinating, and contradictory. Spanky tells us you don’t want to spank a very young child, while Amanda Parks tells us that you can’t reason with a two year old. What age of child is it OK to hit? The kind that is very young and vulnerable and just learning to explore the world, who needs to be kept safe from the fact that their curiosity and mobility far exceed their judgment? Seems to me that what those kids need is a safe environment, adequate supervision, and occasional physical corrections (i.e. gently stopping them from doing something harmful and removing them from the situation). Or is it older kids? Kids who are testing their limits and who can understand and be motivated by much more interesting and nonviolent punishments and rewards. Kids who are old enough to resent their parents and to realize they’re getting a mixed message on violence. I’m reminded of an episode of the Simpson’s in which Marge threatens to delete all Bart’s high scores, a punishment she learned from her mother’s magazine article on creative punishments.  It’s not actually a bad idea.

  • That’s a good point. Not to be too pedantic here, but we need to define “spanking”. I have a two-year-old. I have swatted him a handful of times. I am basically talking about the same kind of pat on the butt I’d give a team-mate after scoring a goal.

    I’m not proud to say I’ve “spanked” him – usually it was a result of my own frustration and I wish I were a perfect parent but I’m not. I usually feel really bad about it.

    But…What I’ve never done, and what I characterize as flat-out child abuse, is to take the time to read a book about torturing children, purchase the implements of abuse, and then purposely use those implements to inflict pain and suffering on my kid. I mean, holy cripes! It makes me ill to think of it.

    p.s. Yes, the swats on his behind got his attention and modified his behavior. But so do time-outs, stern talking-to’s, and loving redirection.

  • Anonymous

    Tim, 24 years ago I could’ve been your son. My parents spanked me maybe 3 or 4 times in my entire life. I was generally well behaved, but I was a very independent and strong-willed child.

    When I got it in my head to disobey, my parents would ignore me – and it drove me crazy. Not only would it tend to break my will to continue on whatever I was on about – but I would immediately feel driven to get myself back in their good graces.

    Keep in mind, they didn’t do this over little stuff. They only reserved it for true disobedience when given an ultimatum.

  • Gus Snarp

    Dan O. does provide links, even though he didn’t use those words. Here’s the takeaway: More aggression from spanked children, with a P value of 0.0001, adjusting for confounding factors and demographics.

    Frequent use of CP (ie, mother’s use of spanking more than twice in the previous month) when the child was 3 years of age was associated with increased risk for higher levels of child aggression when the child was 5 years of age (adjusted odds ratio: 1.49 [95% confidence interval: 1.2–1.8]; P < .0001), even with controlling for the child's level of aggression at age 3 and the aforementioned potential confounding factors and key demographic features.

  • mishi

    There’s no such thing as a “minor spanking.” Hitting your children does not stop or correct behaviours…and hitting them when they’re toddlers is reprehensible (well, hitting at any age is, actually.)

    Using corporal punishment make kids fearful, secretive and more likely to hit others, because it’s being modeled as the way that adults react towards kids. Spanking is the result of an adult losing control of their emotions. Much better to take a short “time out” from your child than resort to hitting.

    BTW, washing their mouths out with soap (or even worse, pepper sauce) is abusive as well.

  • Zachary Aletheia

    Ok i have seen one other person post a study. Here is review of the evidence. http://www.psy.miami.edu/faculty/dmessinger/c_c/rsrcs/rdgs/peers_social_general/kazdin.spanking.curdir.2003.pdf

    lets look at some of the findings shell we?

    * the only postive seem to be short term compliance
    *”found that children who were spanked were
    more angry, aggressive, and stressed than children who were not disciplined in this way” 
    *”This finding is in keeping with other applied as well as animal laboratory research showing that punishment can have untoward  side   effects ,  including emotional react ions ,  aggression,and escape from and avoidance of people, settings, and situations associated with punishment”

    To people above who said that you can’t reason with a child. Can you reason with animals? If not why not use things that known to work with animals as the article says? Do you hit your animals too?

  • Michael Campbell

    I agree with your last part, Joshua.  Emotional abuse is just as bad hitting them.  I think emotional abuse happens WAY more than the average person thinks.

  • Dan O.

    Another false dichotomy.  Reasoning and spanking aren’t the only alternatives.  

    No discipline works with a 1-year old.  It’s time to move, or remove that wire.  Children require sacrifice.  

    And pain is a mechanism where we can learn for ourselves.  Why the heck would you prefer pain inflicted by your hand to pain caused by a child’s own carelessness?  Parenthood is not about being a benevolent dictator.

  • Zachary Aletheia

    Do you have evidence thats its effective? According to the review of the evidence i posted there isn’t any good evidence that its beneficial.

  • Jessica, you are ignorant and lazy. You teach your children that when you are angry violence is alright. Think harder.

  • Matthew Prorok

    That’s kind of the entire basis of the Pearls’ books.  They’ve extrapolated that one verse into what are effectively torture manuals.

  • Michael

    If you have to use a form of discipline on a regular basis then it’s not working.

  • Gus Snarp

    Because no one is ever angry when they turn to spanking as a last resort, right?

  • Rich Wilson

    Battery is “unconsented harmful or offensive contact”.

    The contact alone does not make it a tort.  Try swatting a police officer on the bum and see what happens.

  • Kirk

    I was spanked as a child. Sometimes with a hand, other times with a belt of a yardstick As far as I can remember, it never served to correct my behavior. I ended up being quite defiant as a result of my deep catholic upbringing. I eventually had to find my own peace outside of my parents guidance. I still love my parents very much, but they are still misguided. I have trouble trusting them around my own kids.

  • Amy Caswell

    I used to work in a preschool setting with children from the ages of 3 to 6 years old. When a child broke the rules, I did have a discussion with them.

    You see, in a preschool, or any setting where you’re watching children that aren’t yours, you’re not allowed to hit them as punishment. I assigned a “happy place” in my room (a chair and table when a child would sit until they calmed down enough or were ready to join their friends again). When they were ready to talk, I would sit down and explain what rule they broke, we would talk about why that’s a rule and what happens when/if everyone breaks it. Explaining the rules to children and why we have them works wonders, and I wish parents did it more often. I could always tell which parents spanked their kids and which parents talked to their kids (yes, there is overlap in those categories).

  • Rich Wilson

    Exactly.  “I turned out fine” doesn’t mean “There are no better alternatives”. 

  • You’re a guy though. If you, a grown male, hit a juvenile female, then yeah, you’re a jerk. But how about your wife? Does she have a perfect track record too? It’s way different when you’re the Mom and the primary disciplinarian.

    And it’s not as black and white as “spanking = hitting”. Think of it this way – If you kiss a woman other than your wife, is it cheating? Well, it depends where and how your kissed her. Peck on the cheek? Probably OK. Deep tongue-kissing on the mouth? Probably not OK!

    Physically disciplining your children is the same. If I put my kid in time-out for two minutes sitting on his bed in his room, that’s OK. If I put my kid in time-out for two days out in the barn, that’s not OK.

    Do you have the “ability” and the “intelligence” to see the difference?

  • Slippery

    “Hitting your children does not stop or correct behaviours”
    Yes it can, and does.

  • So the crime of not picking up your toys rises to the level of violence from you.  Maybe you could use some anger management counseling. If you are unable to get your point across verbally maybe you could use linguistics training. 

  • Gus Snarp

    Animal biology should never be used as an excuse for any human behavior. By all means, lets behave towards our children as animals do. And when we re-marry we can behave as lions and eat our new wives’ children by their former husbands. Sorry ladies, in the world of lions, only the daddy’s get to eat the young. But you can always go with the arthropod models and you get to not only eat the young, but also eat our heads after you’re through with us. Or is there some degree of relatedness beyond which we can no longer excuse our behavior with examples from the animal world? If that’s the case, then let’s just say only bonobos can provide justification for our behavior. Orgies for everyone! Sex as a tool for conflict resolution and social structure!

  • Mishi

    I can tell the kids at school who are spanked…they’re the ones who constantly seek out negative have the toughest time controlling their own outbursts and resort to hitting kids on the playground.

    There is a BIG difference between parents who treat their children as rational human beings and use effective methods of discipline that don’t include physical and emotional abuse and those whose kids are aloud to run the roost, because “kids will be kids.” 

    In my home, we don’t spank or berate our children. When any of us is angry (including the kids), yes, there’s sometimes verbal “fights”, but it doesn’t go beyond that. We do, however, model proper behaviour and have taught them proper manners since toddlerhood. My kids have never been allowed to run around restaurants, they can sit quietly drawing or reading for hours while traveling, can quietly enjoy a show at the theatre and are polite when visiting or staying at a friend’s house. We have had pleasant comments from others about how well our kids are behaved and how well we parent. And my kids don’t hit each other.

    BTW, I was spanked as a child. It made me fearful of adults as I was growing up, and  this kept me from developing strong relationships with many elders in my life. I do not respect my parents for their methods of punishment, and to this day do not have a decent adult relationship with my mother, because she is still “always right” and uninterested in seeing me as an adult. It’s very sad.

  • Slippery

    ”  If you hit a toddler, you get a toddler who will hit others, but will eventually learn to use violence to get what he or she wants. ”
    Thats a generalization. Spanking is not necessarily violent.

  • treedweller

    this makes perfect sense. the god/human relationship is viewed by (some?) religions as analogous to the parent/child relationship. if god is a big bully who sends you to a pit of fire for not toeing the line, and we are supposed to view god as a perfect example of how to lead our lives, then physical punishment is the clear solution to every child-based problem.

    If you are an atheist who believes hell is preferable to a heaven ruled by the god described in the bible, you see the folly of corporal punishment.

    the trick for society becomes, when does your religious freedom get trumped by our collective desire to protect the weakest among us.

    My father made a paddle from a board. I found its hiding place and stole it. I don’t know what I was thinking would happen if it was discovered, but I was basically a good kid and it never came up again. Some might even say spanking taught me  a lesson and that’s why I didn’t need to be spanked again. I would say the lesson I learned was that big people can mistreat little people and there’s nothing they can do about it. Also a useful life lesson, I suppose, but not the one I was supposedly being taught.

    It reminds me of “Good Will Hunting”. The title character tells the counselor about his dad laying out a belt and a wrench and asking which one he wanted. Counselor: I gotta go with the belt on that one. Hunting: I took the wrench. Counselor: Why? Hunting: Because fuck him, that’s why.

  • It was the same for me as well, though they used a paddle.  My mother told my father that if he ever used a belt or beat any of us that she’d leave him.

    My parents never did it out of anger either, they had a policy that the other parent that wasn’t present or involved would do the spanking.  And before every spanking my parents told me they loved me very much and that ‘this hurts me more than it does you’ as cliche’ as that sounds.

  • I’m always somewhat annoyed when I come across articles like this. “Why would anyone fail to believe ” is great as a rhetorical trope. But if you literally mean “it is unimaginable to me that someone would have ” your theory of psychology is broken and you’ll never convert anyone.

    Remember that it even being conceivable that beating a child could be a bad thing is a really really recent development in most cultures. “Punish child when they do wrong => they wont do wrong again” is a really really clear and obvious idea. It happens to be wrong, but it’s not obvious that it’s wrong, you really need to go away and do some research to discover that it’s wrong.

    It’s not the case that conservatives are stupid, it’s not the case that they hate their children, it’s not the case that they want to harm their children. Thus we must conclude that conservatives really deeply honestly believe that spanking is for the child’s good. And it’s not obvious that they’re wrong, if it was, *they would have noticed*.

  • I was hit (slapped, spanked, pushed, poked, shaken, etc.) throughout my entire life as a minor. Both in my experience and in what I’ve seen of others’ experiences, there are no parents who hit out of love. Every one of them is angry when they do it, and anger is the cause of them doing it. Saying it is part of discipline is a post-hoc rationalization, nothing more.

  • Rich Wilson

    I used to give myself corporal punishment.  Self inflicted blows to the head.  Hard.  Repeatedly.

    Thankfully I had the opportunity to learn that correctly administered timeouts (still self ‘inflicted’) work much better.  And don’t leave bruises.

    And REALLY thankfully I had the opportunity to learn that before I had a child of my own.

  • Anonymous

    Reading through the responses, I have read that spanking results in: a) little angels, b) little devils, and c) normal kids, whereas NOT spanking results in: a) little angels, b) little devils, and c) normal kids. I see that anecdotal evidence works as well as always.

    I was spanked by both of my parents – they both swore to it – yet I only remember being spanked by my father because they were more “memorable,” yet he never crossed the line into what I would label as abuse.

    I promised myself that I would never strike my child with an object, a fist, or in anger. I knew that I probably would not be perfect but I would try to do better than my dad did, because he succeeded in doing better than he was raised to do.

    Many responses have mentioned alternatives to spanking, but my question is this: what does a parent do when literally all of those alternatives do not work, and you have carefully escalated your response to the bad behavior?

    I had two boys. They never behaved in any way that you could characterize as “bad,” but they chose to be disobedient at various times in various ways. Occasionally, non-physical punishments just did not work. Take away toys? Nope. Grounding? Couldn’t care less. No TV, no toys, no friends, nothing at all except school, organized sports, and music practice? No Problem!

    My final conclusion was that I had to keep spanking in the “arsenal,” as a last-resort option that was only used when all else failed.

    Now that my boys are older (21 and 17), I couldn’t be more proud of their character or their self-sufficiency.I wish I had been able to do it without ever spanking them, but I made a choice to be a parent first and a friend second. Maybe my kids will be smart enough and lucky enough to raise their children without ever having to use that option.

  • Rich Wilson

    You see, in a preschool, or any setting where you’re watching children that aren’t yours, you’re not allowed to hit them as punishment.

    Actually, in many states, you MAY hit a child in school


  • Mishi

    It’s not two-dimensional thinking. It’s parenting with thoughtfulness and respect. If you treat kids as rational human beings by setting boundaries, teaching/modeling respectful behaviour, using non-violent discipline (which includes learning true consequences) and age-appropriate independence then you will be raising them to be rational, thoughtful, respectful and independent adults.

    If you cannot fathom parenting without physical or emotional punshiment then perhaps you aren’t ready to be a parent.

  • The problem is that many sects of Christianity do not know the difference between “spanking” and “abuse” – many of my friends abused physically, verbally, or emotionally by Christians who defended their right to do so with the Bible. I visited my parents’ church this past Sunday who condemned parents who do not spank as being “worldly” and not “following God’s plan for parenting”. The pastor made it quite clear that spanking is a Godly directive and a tool that Christian parents ought to utilize. He demonized a doctor who had cautioned a friend against spanking his young son, asking the congregation: “Who will you side with? Will you follow secular parenting advice, or will you raise children the way God intends?”

    The issue is not with spanking alone; the issue is with a culture that promotes dangerous (not to mention not always effective) ideas about discipline and DEFENDS abuse when it occurs. I firmly believe that spanking ought to be approached with care and concern as a last resort, and I do mean “spank” and not “thrash with a belt or other tool”.

    If Christianity promoted a message of: “do what is best for your children according to the behavior at hand and the personalities of the child and parents to the best of your ability”, I would be fine with that. Instead, they say that if you spare your child of corporal punishment, you “hate him”.

    Lastly, I just want to throw out the idea that children are not “fixed” by spanking. The children you describe in your last paragraph sound like they need new PARENTS, not a good swat.

  • Volunteer

    Despite your stated objection to the tone of the message, the point remains and you haven’t addressed it.

  • TychaBrahe

    What do you suggest for the parents of a child, say two years old, who likes to run away, who slips a leash, who thinks being chased by mom or dad is the height of hilarity, and who sees nothing wrong with running into traffic?

    I believe in spanking when the consequences of the action are worse than spanking: running away, running into traffic, prying off the electrical socket covers. 

  • MariaO

    In many countries in the world it has already disappeared. Or at least it is illegal to beat or hit or smack your child anywhere. First to legalise against all forms of physical child abuse was Sweden, over 30 years ago. Now many European and a few other countries have similar laws. See map http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Map_of_domestic_corporal_punishment_abolition.svg
    The citizens of countries where you are not allowed to hit people irrespective of age are usually more law abiding that those where spanking is allowed. See map of murder rates http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Homicide-world.png. (Murder is considered a good indication of (violent) crimes in general.)
    I do not claim that beating children make them murderers but you definitely cannot claim the opposite. You do NOT get a safer. More law-abiding society by beating children!

  • Dan O.

    My generalization is supported by a study.

    Suppose you’re right and that spankings aren’t necessarily violent.  Even so, spankings are necessarily similar to violence.  Can we agree that toddlers don’t understand the (supposed) difference.   Obviously, neither  do many adults.  

    I’ll take a study over a supposition. 

  • Spoqqq

    Adopting the position that ANY form of physical punishment delivered to children should be seen as child abuse is ridiculous. While you might have done very well raising your brood without having to deliver a single swat to their butts, as others have mentioned the plural of “anecdote” is NOT “data.” Try raising children that for whatever reason, by nurture or nature, are hyperactive, have poorer impulse control than their peers, or possess a streak of defiance. Walk in the shoes of parents who have to somehow ensure their kids, despite their challenges, must understand the difference between what is safe and what isn’t, what is acceptable and what isn’t. Sometimes Johnny just isn’t interested in being reasoned with, and at the age of 3 who can blame him? Oh look, there’s the ball, in the middle of the street, I’m gonna go get it…

    I do agree that a spanking punishment should be delivered by a parent who is calm, not angry. Also, after the spanking, always give the child a long, tight hug and explain again quietly why he or she was punished. This reinforces the lesson and also carries the message that Mom and Dad really truly loves them.

  • Anonymous

    Way out of line. Stick to addressing points of disagreement, don’t jump right into insults and dismissal.

  • John Morris

    You shouldn’t hit people…especially children!-  How hard is it to understand this?  Causing pain to other sentient entities is wrong.  Barbaric parents inflict pain on their children.   The comments are filled with rationalizing moms and dads.  Sickening.    “If you do this, I am going to inflict pain on you” is disgusting, barbaric, and so unnecessary.  There is no logical reason to do such a thing

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one that did this.  I used to lie about doing stuff I was supposed to do, like my parents repeatedly telling me to go clean my room.  I’d actually clean it but then lie about it still being dirty so it would make them feel bad, especially if I got a spanking.  And then candy! 😀

  • I was spanked as a child and often got into fights in school because the only way I knew how to deal with problems was violence.

  • Gpklemann

    Raising a kid is a lot like as training a dog. Just as there has been a push towards reward training for dogs and away from shock collars, etc. there has been a push away from spanking children. In reality learning (training) is a very complex and fluid situation. There are positive and negative reinforcers and beneficial ways to use both. The key is balance and understanding. Most of the time the problem isn’t your kid (dog), it’s you. Any reinforcement loses effectiveness when overused. One of our friends puts their kids in timeout seemingly 3-4x/hour. It’s being used incorrectly and the kids show it (miserable to be around). How they will turn out, who knows? I rarely have to tap my kid (dog) and only in extreme instances. Because it is so rare the point gets across that this was a very important time to listen. I am strongly against beating dogs (kids). That is never OK. As to the study showing children who were spanked grew up more aggressive, it is flawed. As they teach in school: Correlation is not equal to causation. They did not control other variables that well. I was spanked and turned out reasonable. What was more important than the method was that I had loving parents that cared and really that makes all the difference.

  • Anonymous

    Please detail a form of spanking that is not violent. If it’s too soft to cause pain or shock, I think the word is “patting”, and I hardly think it would be a punishment.

  • Zachary Aletheia

    I provided a review of studies

  • mishi

    But you could approach the same situation about cleaning up toys in a different way than smacking them. If they are very young, then picking up toys is made into a game that gets them interested in participating. This is a method that is used in preschool or daycare…they’d better not be using corporal punishment for not picking up toys!

    If they are older, then packing the toys up and putting them away out of reach is a good consequence for not cleaning up. “If you can’t clean up when you’re done, then you don’t get to play with those toys for a while.” Loss of privilege is good too. 

    When my eldest was a toddler, losing a storybook at bed time was an effective lost privilege. Now that he is a teenageer, he will lose computer time or not be allowed to go to a planned event.

  • Anonymous

    Wow Stuart… just wow…  you’re trolling, not adding to the discussion one iota.

  • Do you even have kids? Or know what they are?

  • Tim

    what evidence do you have that deleting a child’s high-scores would result in less emotional harm than a quick smack?  You are distroying his hard work.  That can’t be good for his emotional development can it?

    I have only smacked my son very rarely, but the evidence I draw from trying out various punishments on him is that there are some things (ignoring him for example) that produce a far greater emotional impact (and I reason therefore more likely to “work” as punishment but perhaps with greater risk of harming him emotionally) than a smack.  He ignores a smack (a good reason not to give him one).  Yelling at him gets him seriously upset to the point that he sobs and will not sleep until we have cuddled.  This tells me that smacking isn’t the worse punishment I can give him. 

  • Ursulamajor

    To her dying day, my mother was convinced that what she did to me was just normal and necessary “spanking”. Not sure I’d call getting beaten around the face and head with her fists, hitting me with a flyswatter until the end came off and she was hitting me on the back with bare, sharp wires (had to soak my nightgown off in the shower the morning after that one…dried blood and all), or breaking various sized wooden spoons on my butt and legs, simple spankings. She wasn’t correcting my behavior or showing me consequences. She was simply letting me know exactly how pissed off I had made her. And I lost trust. To her dying day, I never trusted that woman to be on my side for any reason.   

  • Steve

    It sounds like you are saying that parents who choose not to spank are not disciplining their children. Which is absurd. There are plenty of more effective ways to punish a child without striking them. Usually spanking becomes less and less effective, then parents either have to increase the severity of the spanking (which leads to abuse) or defer to a non violent form of punishment (which studies have shown is more effective).

  • Thorny264

    To be fair, i was spanked as a child, not on a regular basis or anything but when i did something stupid on purpose and to be frank i knew what i was doing i was spanked, i am actually quite glad as it did get rid of most of my stupid behavior. I say in only creates resentment when the child doesnt know why they are being spanked but when they know, it actually helps at least for me.  

  • Dan O.

    “Correlation is not equal to causation.”

    Well, please let me know when someone does a controlled double-blind experiment to test for the results of spanking. 

    Not forthcoming?  Darn.   I wonder why.

    In the meantime, reasonable people make do with correlation. (More precisely,  multiple regression analyses).   

  • John Morris

    It’s just a ‘swat’ – you can swat yourself all you want…but if it doesn’t cause pain or some sort of negative feelings/pain/emotions to the child then it wouldn’t really work would it…and therein lies the point- it’s cruel, unnecessary if you’re rational, and should be relegated to the past-

  • Gus Snarp

    I’m confused. How old were they when you spanked them? Apparently old enough to go out, and therefore to be grounded, but you think a spanking effectively disciplined them where nothing else would? You think teenage boys are deterred by a spanking? Just how hard did you hit them?

    And you say they never behaved in a way that could be characterized as bad, so just what was this disobedience that forced you to move to spanking when all your other punishments failed? And did they become obedient from it? Teenagers will be disobedient. It’s part of growing up. If you’ve instilled proper values in them, then they won’t be particularly “bad” even as they disobey. So it’s entirely possible that the spanking had no effect whatsoever, they just tested their boundaries as teenagers do, were basically good kids, and grew up fine, just as they would have if you never spanked them.

  • I’ve seen this done and it worked great.  My cousin has a son who was well-known for his tantrums.  He’d quite often deliberately scream and cry in the middle of a group to get them to pay attention to him.  He’d then start falling down on purpose screaming to make them think he got hurt.

    My grandmother suggested the water trick; and the next time he did it, he got a large glassful of ice-water dumped all over his head.  He didn’t do it again for a long time according to my cousin.  He only did this tantrum thing one more time and got another glass of icewater dumped onto him.  According to my cousin that was the last time.

  • Gus Snarp

    This is my favorite rationalization of the day. The 3 year old runs out in the street to get the ball. . . you stop them, you don’t spank them for it. That’s what parenting is. Even if you spank them, they’re going to do it again. You can’t spank them the first time and then think, well, they’ll never do that again, I can let them play in the front yard alone while I get some work done around the house!

  • mishi

    No it doesn’t. It will temporarily change their focus, but it isn’t a teaching point about what they were doing “wrong”. 

    You can change their focus in gentler ways. When they are old enough to understand you can reason with them too. Try talking to your kids, it works. Even when they are toddlers they can understand more than they’re often given credit for.

    Better yet, try talking WITH them. Show them that their ideas are important and that they can be part of the conversation rather than being shooed away for “interrupting.” Goes a long way to teaching them that they are interesting, important and respected…and it models good conversational skills.

  • Michael Campbell

    What I see is somebody who is trying to justify striking their children as a means of discipline.  The research doesn’t back it up and it’s out there for all to see and investigate.  And when the research doesn’t back it up and people STILL continue to do it, it just baffles me.  Especially when it means you are actually hitting your little kids without evidence that it works (and in the face of evidence of the contrary).

    Believing in something with no evidence.  This sounds so familiar…  Interesting how people can turn that on and off, even on an atheist message board.

    My wife was spanked as a kid and she still resents her father for doing it (she would NEVER hit our kids).  Her dad actually spanked my youngest daughter one time when he was babysitting and he was told in no uncertain terms that it would never happen again.

    Your kissing analogy is really offbase, but made me laugh.  And, yes, I have the “ability” and “intelligence” to see the difference between, say, hitting your kids on ass and breaking their arm.  I get it.  However, what YOU’RE not understanding is that neither one works… so why do either?

    The word “intelligence” was meant to strike a nerve.  Sounds like it worked.

  • Mrs. B.

    After reading through all the comments here one final point occurs to me. All discipline, whether a spat on the ass, a timeout for 1/2 an hour, grounding for a week, no TV, etc., is the exercise of power from a dominant figure, the parent, over a submissive one, the child. Those of you who are appalled over a spanking because it engenders resentment must see that ANY form of control, in the child’s eyes, has the same result. It is a feeling of helplessness and resentment and lack of power; of being forced to do something you don’t want to do, or told you can’t do something that you want to do. It is also part of a parent’s responsibility to teach their child that they can’t always get everything they want and have everything their own way. 

    Young children who enter the school system believing that there will be no consequences for any of their behavior are in for a rude awakening when they learn the sun and stars don’t revolve around them and that not everyone is willing to give them everything they want.

    It may be pertinent to say that I don’t have children. I have always had dogs and would never hit an animal for any reason. Go figure.

  • Anonymous

    What that book is about is training children like you train animals, especially dogs. Only most animals function purely on instinct and can be conditioned. Humans are different in that regard

  • Dan O.

    Are you really asking?  There are lots of parenting books on the subject.  Try: http://www.amazon.com/1-2-3-Magic-Effective-Discipline-Children/dp/1889140430/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1320772030&sr=1-1

    Lot’s of people find it effective.

    (Again with the false dichotomies.  What gives?)

  • Michael

    I know that there is more than one way to discipline a child and that certain methods don’t work on certain children. If grounding doesn’t produce an impact then grounding them for years won’t do any better.

    I would hazard a guess that the adopted children had been abusively beaten in the past and thus didn’t make the connection that they had the power to stop these people spanking them by modifying their behaviour. Without that reasoning, spanking will never encourage a child to modify their behaviour.

  • Gus Snarp

    Seriously? That’s your takeaway? I’m clearly not communicating effectively if you’re going after me on a Simpson’s reference. Either that or you’re intentionally ignoring the rest of the post.

  • dcardona

    It’s a child’s job to try everything, and to try to get away with it. It’s a parent’s job to recognize when that is not ok and to make the kid stop and teach the kid why not.

    I have spanked my 4-year-old a handful of times since she was about 2: when she demonstrated a level of understanding indicating she was actively/willfully choosing to ignore what I said and was much harder to physically remove from any given situation. She gets one open-handed swat on a clothed behind or on the hand; with one-two chances beforehand to change behavior (slate wiped clean each morning); after explaining the reason why (not only the infraction, but mention the chances and why I’ve chosen to spank); and never in anger.

    The first two chances she gets include me doing things like talking
    about reasons not to do something, giving alternative solutions (e.g.
    use a stool to reach the high shelf), distracting her, removing her or
    the temptation, and/or taking away privileges. As she gets older, these
    things are working much better. At the same time, her
    reasoning skills and self-control improve and take over for external,
    after-the-fact discipline.

    What causes a spank? Trying to hit the TV with a croquet mallet. Running into the street. Trying to climb on top of the fridge or bookshelf. Basically, things for which the pain of a spank as a preventative measure outweighs the alternative.  What doesn’t? Talking back, asking a million questions, making mistakes, general disobedience, toy destruction, making a mess, not eating dinner, being a kid.

    So considering all this, am I still beating my child? I understand that other parents choose not to use spanking. However, my daughter is not afraid of me, she does not resent me. I honestly believe there is a difference. We need to differntiate between a specific plan of discipline a child can understand and predict and abusive behavior/punishment in the guise of spanking.

  • Gpklemann

    There are a lot of double blind randomized experiments that would be helpful but are not done for a variety of reasons. An important question would be, “How could you control all other variables?”. You can’t. Not in this situation. There is no way you could raise two children identically and have their experiences be the same. When we can do double blind randomized experiments the information is a higher quality and more valuable. But you are right, reasonable people make do with what we have.

    Problematic and demonstrated through this discussion is the tendency of people to stick with their beliefs even in the face of contrary evidence. This is one of the reasons religion and naturiopathy continue to plague rational people. But even rational people aren’t exempt. Keep an open mind. Also check out badscience.net That’s a really good site.

    The whole point of my comment (opinion) was balance and loving parents. Two things that seem to be a rare commodity these days if you listen to the news. But then again everything is biased one way or another, even us.

  • Amy

    I was raised with the idea that getting your kid to do what you want through fear was perfectly acceptable.  I am an only child, raised by my father and not in a religious home.  I now have 3 children and have only spanked by kids once or twice and it proved to be of no practical benefit. Sure  you may get your child to do what you want but they will only do right when they think you are looking and out of fear for their safety. I believe it is purely lazy parenting.  How will they ever learn to do the right thing on their own.  I believe teaching your children discernment is the best gift you can give. Natural consequences are enough to deter a child.  But many parents shield their kids from them.
    As a kid when my father actually tried to be gentle I was so scared that I was going to be punished instead that I would flinch.  I was fortunate enough not to get into any serious trouble as a teenager or young adult but it had nothing to do with my upbringing. It was my own desire to learn from others mistakes and make personal choices  contrary to what I witnessed in others.  In other words, common sense

  • Spoqqq

    dcardona, you know what annoys me the most? That parents like yourself, who use spanking as a measured, considered and infrequent method of discipline feel they have to explain and justify your parenting in detail to absolute strangers.

    You’re not a child abuser. Don’t let the shrillness and self-righteousness of the detractors with their broad brushes make you feel that way. Good on you.

  • Anonymous

    My mom was firmly against any form of corporal punishment, she even threatened to sue the school district over swatting her kids.
    I share that belief, even if I have sometimes failed live up to that standard as well as I should (parenting can be a very frustrating experience at times, anyone who disputes that is a fool)  i always do my best to apologize to my kids when i lose my temper and make it clear to them that I am the person at fault on the rare occasions when that line is crossed.

    That being said, the level of sanctimonious acrimony from some of you people towards your fellow parents is appalling. 

  • Candide

    “While you want to set an example, you also want to teach them that it can be ok to color outside the lines. You want them to challenge authority — in reasonable ways and with good arguments. You want them to experiment and try new things. Along the way, of course they’ll screw up. But hopefully they learn from that.”

    No, they don’t. If they believe that the Bible says that even the smallest wrong action can send a person straight to hell, then parents will do anything to keep their children in line.

  • Tex

    So my two cents just going on my childhood and watching friends with their children, but I think there are varying degrees of spanking and somewhere in there is a fine line where it most definitely crosses into abuse.  I also think that there is an age appropriate response.  

    For example spanking a 16 year old, at best I dotn see how thats going to help and is most likely abuse.  Swatting a toddler on the butt once or twice with just enough force to get their attention in order to get them to stop throwing a temper tantrum seems to be one of the few things Ive seen work in that situation and I fail to see that as abuse.  On the other hand with the toddler in a temper tantrum situation if someone really layed into them or continued to swat them, that is obviously abuse.

    I dont think its necessary once they’re old enough to reason with the child or for other punishments like time outs to be effective.  

  • Anonymous

    I know exactly what you are talking about. My mother broke more wooden spoons over my head than I can count. She wasn’t disciplining me, she was losing control and going berserk on me until her rage was spent. I can still show you the physical scars but the psychological scars go a lot deeper. I can tell I didn’t shed a single tear when she died. I only wish I’d had the chance to tell her how much suffering she had caused me.

  • Spoqqq

    “Causing pain to other sentient entities is wrong.”

    So a police officer putting a suspect in a (painful!) restraining hold is doing wrong?

    A doctor applying a (painful!) spinal tap on a patient to run tests is doing wrong?

    Causing pain for no purpose (or a purpose such as fulfilling sadism, or a wish to hurt someone else because you’re angry) is wrong. If the purpose is solely to make someone suffer, it’s wrong. But there are a plethora of reasons where delivering pain isn’t wrong.

  • lkmccormick

    My husband and I do not spank our three kids. It’s sometimes hard because we were both spanked growing up, but we’re trying hard to be authoritative rather than authoritarian. I admit there are times I wish my kids would just listen “because I said so,” but the little skeptics want reasons for everything.

  • Please tell me what words I should use to explain to a 20 month old why he shouldn’t poke something into an electrical outlet.

  • mishi

    Physical and emotional punishment (abuse) is really about control: wanting to control another human being (who is smaller or weaker than you) and losing your own self-control. It unfortunately happens due to sexism, racism, ageism, etc. For whatever reason, people want it to be okay to do this to children. 

    No one can control another human being, but they sure can break their spirit, damage their self-esteem and perpetuate the cycle of abuse. That is what happens when parents spank.

  • Hemant said: “While you want to set an example, you also want to teach them that it can be ok to color outside the lines. You want them to challenge authority — in reasonable ways and with good arguments. You want them to experiment and try new things.”

    I’m not at all sure that is the goal of many religious fundamentalists, in raising their children. In fact, if they are using that book for parenting methods, they would probably be appalled at the notion that their children will challenge authority (in any way, shape, or form), or ‘color outside the lines.’ Isn’t religious indoctrination (sorry, “education”) really all about teaching kids NOT to question (religious or parental) authorities, NOT to decide for themselves what is true and what isn’t?

  • Anonymous

    If you don’t know how to raise children without hitting them, don’t have them in the first place.

  • mishi

    In this case, it is up to the parent to keep the child safe. It’s your job to keep dangerous items out of reach of your child. Anything less is negligent.

  • Dan O.

    I’m still not clear how “balance” and open-mindedness involves condoning hitting kids.  

    I’m also not clear on how children are like dogs.  Children don’t learn like dogs.  We have this really big thing, you know, called a cortex.  It makes a difference.  

    1. There’s no evidence that hitting children improves outcomes.
    2. There’s evidence that hitting children is associated with worse outcomes.
    3. All other things being equal, hitting is wrong.  Especially hitting children.

    Therefore, don’t hit.   When you said, “I was spanked and turned out reasonable. What was more important than the method was that I had loving parents that cared and really that makes all the difference”, you are promoting ignorance, not balance. 

  • Spoqqq

    That’s extremely weird thinking. If you really believe that attempting to control another human being, whether physically or emotionally, is a vile, evil act, you might not ever want to work a day in your life, unless you work entirely on your own. Power through authority and hierarchy is achieved through fear. Your boss controls you explicitly by your understanding that you’ll be punished if you don’t do as you’re told. Get that report on his or her desk by 9:00am tomorrow or you’re fired…

  • I’ve used a swat to create an aversion to specific behaviors.  I am absolutely trying to make the child ‘afraid’ of a certain action.  The actions, in this case, were – trying to play with the stove, sticking things in electrical sockets, running in front of traffic, and picking the cat up by the throat.  If the child in question was 6 or 8, sitting him down on the bed and explaining to him why the behavior was wrong would probably have been effective, and when he is 6 or so, that’s likely what I will do.

    But at the time of the first swat, he was 20 months old.  He didn’t know what the words meant.  His brain apparently was convincing him that there was nothing in the world more important than sticking an object into the electrical outlet.  It took him a week to figure out how to pry off the covers, and putting furniture in front of all the outlets proved to be impossible.  Yelling didn’t dissuade him.  Moving him away repeatedly made him only more determined.

    Swatting him on the hand when he tried it, just hard enough to hurt his feelings, worked.  He learned sticking things in electrical sockets = pain, which is a true statement and the reason as an adult, we don’t stick non-approved items into electrical sockets. 

    So do I spank my kid?  Yes.  I do.  I look forward to the day that other solutions work.  He’s four now, and standing him in the corner and/or taking away a toy have pretty much taken the place of a swat, but running away from me in places like a parking lot are still spanking offenses because the response needs to be immediate and a corner isn’t always an option in that situation.  He doesn’t do it often, and I don’t think I’ve spanked him in the past 3 months.

  • Spoqqq

    I’m very sorry to hear you went through what you did.

    But with respect, your anecdotes don’t form an unbiased position for an argument. In fact, you apply a VERY biased broad brush as a result.

  • Gus Snarp

    Problematic and demonstrated through this discussion is the tendency of people to stick with their beliefs even in the face of contrary evidence.

    That’s demonstrated in this discussion? Then you’ll acknowledge that the only actual evidence that’s been presented here shows that spanking is a bad idea, right? Because last time I checked, anecdotes don’t count, and the actual studies presented conclude that spanking is uncalled for.

  • I forgot to mention another point: Behavioral Conditioning theories/practices show (unfortunately) that humans CAN be “trained up” much as dogs, horses, and dolphins can — though with all of them, positive reinforcement is known to be the best method, not whipping, swatting, and other forms of violence. As with dogs and horses, “spanking” or a swat (whether on a dogs nose or a kids butt) will lead to all sorts of unintended consequences, but will/can have at least some of the “desired” effect – stopping some particular bad behavior. Since humans have more complex thought processes than dogs and horses, though, the unintended consequences are greatly multiplied and the possibility of the “bad” behavior continuing are greater, in my unscientific opinion. That opinion seems to be fairly well justified by a reading of the many comments here.

    Sadly, positive reinforcement takes a lot more effort and time, and many parents lack either one. I’ve been guilty of going for the negative (the timeouts, the revoked privileges) with my two kids, and would have to say I would have been better off learning how to do positive reinforcement instead. They’re great kids, though; probably because it’s their nature. I count myself lucky.

  • David Brown

    I am not sorry that I spanked my kids.  Lets get this straight at certain age you ca n not reason with a child.  If a swat on the bum stops them from running into a busy street or sticking their hand on a hot oven door so be it.  Both my kids are in their mid-twenties and I am proud of both of them.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for responding thoughtfully rather than didactically. Too many people in this thread seem to get their jollies accusing other parents of being monsters.

  • mishi

    What the hell? Troll much?

  • Michael Campbell

    I think you’re (purposely) not understanding John’s point.  Yes, yes… we all get that there are times when you need to inflict pain in this world.  Reply back why you think hitting your children is the right thing to do when trying to teach them right from wrong.  Otherwise you come off sounding ridiculous.

  • Gpklemann

    Dogs have a cortex as well. One of my pet peeves is people separating humans from animals. Learning in all forms has been demonstrated in other animals. It’s not exclusive to people. Finally, please explain how I’m promoting ignorance. Is stating I had loving parents ignorant? Is claiming that made a difference for me ignorant? Are all other things equal? I look forward to your response.

  • Here is what you aren’t getting.

    All kids are different.

    For some kids, the absolute worst punishment in the world is a parent saying ‘I am disappointed in you’

    With my sister, nothing worked as well as a time out.  Being removed from where the action and attention were happening was practically torture for her.  And being ignored?  Agony.

    Me?  I loved being sent to my room away from everyone.  Finally, some peace and quiet.  At family gatherings I’d misbehave intentionally to get sent away from my relatives.  My mom eventually figured out that if she could not give me a rational, logical explanation for why my behavior was wrong (because I said so didn’t cut it), there was no punishment she could devise that would stop me if I wanted to engage in that behavior. 

    What works for one kid won’t always work for another.  Some kids respond to lectures, some to time outs, some to positive reinforcement, some to ‘1-2-3’, some to ‘the look’, some to groundings, some to having toys taken away, and some response best to a quick swat.

    There is no magical one size fits all perfect solution.

  • Gpklemann

    Yes, the evidence presented here shows spanking would fall under “bad idea”. Anecdotes do count as information. They’re lowest level evidence but still recognized as evidence. A survey (the second link on Dan O.’s early comment) is a way of collecting anecdotes in numbers. Please check out badscience.net It really is informative.

  • You didn’t have the intelligence to address his point though.

    I have a friend whose father never laid a hand on him.  He was still profoundly abused to the point he suffers from PTSD.  His father’s solution to his misbehavior was to lock him in a closet without food, water, or access to a bathroom, sometimes for a couple days at a time.

    But he never spanked him.  Not once.

    And if you say spanking doesn’t ‘work’, you are flat out lying in a way that renders everything else you have to say likely invalid.  I spanked my son once for biting his friend.  He hasn’t bitten anyone since.  Spanking obviously worked, your stance is hereby disproven.

  • Gpklemann

    Sorry. Forgot to address your first question. Yes. People are sticking with whatever they want to say in this discussion and comments to this post. I see some people trying to discuss what happened to them. Overall I find it interesting. Plenty of people, myself included, are saying, “I was spanked and I’m ok” despite evidence suggesting otherwise. However, if a paper is posted that shows benefits of spanking would the other side of the coin change it’s tune as well? Probably not. Once someone has formed a belief it is really hard to change. Look at those still saying WMDs existed in Iraq. Understanding tendencies even in ourselves improves communication and understanding of others.

  • You are wrong.  Yes, discipline works with a 1 year old.  Hell, it works with a 3 month old.

    3 months is when my son developed his first teeth.  He promptly used them to bite me while breastfeeding.  For a day, everytime he did it, I gave him a light tap on the cheek and a sharp ‘no’.  It startled him, and he stopped.  Then he did it again a few minutes later.  I responded the same way.  And after about half an hour of this, he stopped doing it.  Permanently. 

    Or do you think sacrificing the bonding and health benefits of breast feeding him would have been a better solution than using discipline?

    And tell me, which is better for the kid, permanent, disfiguring burns caused by playing with something hot, or the pain caused be a quick swat to the back of the hand?  Being hit by a car, or getting a quick swat to the butt?  Why the heck would you even begin to say it would be better to let the child experience that kind of agony over a quick swat?

  • Anonymous

    they have these great little plastic things that go into the outlets that are a pain in the butt to pull out, but keep little metal bits from being poked into them. There is ALWAYS an alternative to hurting your child.

  • Drumlab

    If my parents had ever tongue kissed me, I think that I would have been permanently scarred.

  • So – put the kid in a padded cell for the first 8 years of his life?

    Or give him a light swat on his hand when he reaches for a hot pan?

    Hmmm….  apply reason, logical, and practicality to the issue, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to go with solution number 2.

    There is no way to remove all danger from the world, so I must teach my child how to respond when danger occurs, whether it be by avoidance or screaming for his parents. 

  • Anonymous

    anecdotal. doesn’t count. I need studies showing spanking “Works” before I am willing to destroy my kid’s trust in me. You are justifying. I don’t blame you, but you should at least recognise it.

  • I spanked my son twice. Exactly twice. In both cases, he was about to run out into traffic, and because of how fast he started moving, I couldn’t get a decent grip on him to hold him back. So hand across the behind to *immediately* distract him to where I could get a proper grab on him and then tell him what was up. Then I sat down so I could deal with him almost dying. 

    Given the choices I had to make in those specific moments, I’m fine with my actions. As a discipline tool? Never saw the need. It didn’t reinforce anything I couldn’t reinforce other ways, and as a penalty, it’s kind of meh. Then again, the only time my dad ever spanked me, I was barreling towards an open elevator shaft, and I think he was actually trying to grab a leg. (I was evidently about ten feet from a 15-story free fall, and as I hear tell, he had to dive to get to me.) 

    Is spanking always child abuse, no, hardly. But it’s not nearly as necessary as people want to think.

  • Kristi

    I was spanked as a kid… only when I screwed up REALLY bad…and the spanking was never enough to hurt me physically, only enough to get my attention so that my father could TALK to me (not yell)  about what I did. 

    I have 3 kids now and I used to spank (spank, not abuse) them (ages 3, 6 and 8) until I saw my two oldest playing among themselves one day with babydolls and with one another and they were acting out a “punishment” for the babydolls with spanking. The violence they showed, while tons more than I ever inflicted upon them, was enough to make me realize that even though I had never hit or abused them like that, this is how THEY saw it….  I realized they had learned this from me….  I was shocked and have not spanked them since.  I realized that all that spanking had done was teach them to do the same thing, only more aggressive. 

    I found this form of discipline very ineffective not only in it’s form of violence and bad reaction, but the fact that I had just taught my kids how to NOT control their anger and be rational. 

    Since then I have found other non physical forms of discipline that seem to be MUCH more effective. Now don’t get me wrong, sometimes I lose my cool with them and lose my patience, but at that point I just go in the other room , lock myself in and count until I regain my rationality and feel I am able to hold my temper and talk to them.  This seems to be a much better method than physically trying to get them to listen.

  • My oldest son could outwit the most sophisticated outlet cover by 2 years old. 

  • Anonymous

    “Have you ever tried to reason with a 2 year old? It doesn’t work very well. They aren’t psychologically advanced enough to understand complex verbal associations. They still at a mostly physical level of understanding.” this is why it is good thing 2 year olds are small and easily picked up and removed from a  situation. I agree with removing the wire, your child’s safety cannot be worth less than what a wire provides. Maybe it can be run along the ceiling at the wall temporarily, until she loses her fascination with it?

  • And that’s the thing a lot of the ‘anti-spanking’ crowd doesn’t get.  They either can’t tell the difference between a spanking and a beating, or they think because it doesn’t work for all kids/situations it doesn’t work for any kids/situations.

    Physical discipline and time outs didn’t work on me.  Rational discourse did.  Rational discourse and time outs didn’t work on my little sister, but physical discipline did.  Physical discipline and rational discourse didn’t work on my middle sister, but time-outs did.

    Three kids, raised in the same house, with the same ‘genetics’.  Three different solutions required.

  • Alice

    My parents spanked me because the only parenting advise they ever got was from Christian resources but I could tell they didn’t like it, it seemed like an obligation. They would send me to my room for a little while so we both could cool off and use a rubber spatula that didn’t hurt much. After they would sit with me and talk about what I did wrong. Early on I could usually talk my way out of punishment using logic, but as I got older they started taking that as a sign of disrespect. I think the whole Christian discipline thing made them feel like they were being good parents, when they were good parents without it.

  • It’s also not the slightest bit accurate.

    I can’t help but wonder…if the anti-spanking folks are so ‘right’, how come they have to lie to ‘prove’ their points?

  • Anonymous

    hmmm. I know there are alternatives. You don’t have to let your kid get hit by a car to get them understand the possibilities, I don’t think anyone was really suggesting that. You hold the kid’s hand at busy streets until they are old enough to comprehend the physics of fast moving cars. Even if you have to carry the kid kicking and screaming (or strap them into a stroller) while nursing your baby in her sling and jogging to get to bus. It is not easy, but I know it can be done.
    What is best for the kid is being in a place where he or she is safe and loved. That is job of the parent. I don’t feel spanking conveys either safety of love. (of course, I don’t think my son was feeling a buncha love when I had to hoist him away from the street either 🙂 

  • What are the actual parameters of the study?  Who did the study?  What was their bias?

    I’ve seen plenty of ‘studies’.  The Pearls have ‘studies’.  And when you actually read these ‘studies’, it’s pretty easy to see the bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    nice advice 🙂

  • You weren’t spanked.  You were abused.  This is obvious from the rest of the information provided in your post, namely the fact that you were apparently raised by someone with NPD.

    Your inability to separate the abuse you suffered from spanking as discipline is making you too biased to reasonably participate in this discussion.

  • Or, instead of trying the ineffective, expensive if not impossible solutions (more than one wire exists in the world), I can stick with the one that actually worked: A light smack on the hand when reaching for the wire.  Repeat twice.  Kid never did it again.

  • KPL

    They’re not that hard to pull out. 

  • Here is a thought that the study doesn’t consider… maybe more aggressive children are the ones most likely to get spanked, and the study doesn’t actually take that into account, which is one of the many reasons studies of this kind are fundamentally flawed.

    You can’t ‘control for the child’s level of aggression’ at age 3. 

    And all of these studies, every single one out there, suffers from the bias of the study creators.  They set out to ‘prove’ spanking is bad, so they do.  And others set out to prove that it’s good, so they do.  Conflicting studies all around.

    Because none, none of these studies account for the fact that all children are different, with different needs.

  • TiltedHorizon

    You are certainly allowed an opinion, unfortunately unless you can explain the “why” then you are really contributing nothing.  

  • maybe I had super irritating ones… I even had a hard time pulling them out. They drove me crazy… We also moved furniture in front of outlets. Made for odd looking decorating, but it was temporary…

  • just trying to offer suggestions. Parenting is anything but easy.

  • My son is intelligent.  Which means it took him about 30 seconds to figure out that the covers could be pried off, and another day to figure out how to get them off in under 5 seconds.

    That’s the hardest part about raising a child.  They are intelligent enough to figure out how to get into trouble, but not yet rational enough to realize they shouldn’t get into the trouble.

    Kids don’t see long term consequences for many things, so they must be provided with a short term reason not to do something.  They aren’t going to reason out ‘I shouldn’t rip my clothes because clothes are expensive and it will mean we can’t afford a nice Christmas’.  So instead, they must be taught the reason ‘I shouldn’t rip my clothes because Mom will be mad at me’.

  • Guest

    It’s not apologizing as much as it is sitting down with them, explaining what happened and then saying something like, “Look, I love you, but let’s start listening more/playing nice/not throwing entire bowls of cereal down the heat vents/etc.  Can we make up and be friends again?”

    I’ve never had it not “work,” and it’s always a last resort used to snap the kid out of the behavior as opposed to a way to cause pain.

  • there really is no better way to induce cognitive dissonance than to question a person’s parenting 🙂

  • leanne

    I was ‘paddled’ as a child by my step mother and our landlord (looking back at the fact that our landlord at the time did it, I think “WTF?). I don’t have children, but I would never ever want them to endure that. 
    I’m *extremely* anti-confrontational to this day, and I’m sure the treatment from my step mother and landlord has something to do with it. 

  • Awiggin3

    Only anecdotal evidence with my nieces.  They were both headstrong little girls, testing their boundaries and exploring their world, which are usually excellent traits.  But when they were younger, they would get into things that were dangerous because they didn’t understand why or how it could hurt them.  So they were given a reason to see it as ‘dangerous’ until they could understand it for themselves.

  • Oh, I know why they lie.  Pretty much the same reason forced-birthers and fundies do.  Sitting in self-righteous judgment makes them feel all good about themselves.

    I’m just pointing out that the simple fact that they do lie pretty much renders their entire stance invalid and find it very telling that they can’t support their statements without turning to these lies.

  • Do you believe not picking up your toys requires a violent reaction? Do you have children? I cannot imagine a scenario where I would have to or want to use violence to coerce my daughter to do something. Can you see how Batshitistan crazy the idea of spanking/hitting a child is?

  • Rich Wilson

    As much as some people are bothered by equating a light slap on the back of the hand with breaking a wooden spoon over the head (and I agree, they’re not the same), I’m bothered by what seems to me to be the argument that the light slap is the only, or at least clearly the best way to direct the behavior of a small child.  And maybe in some cases it is.  Maybe some kids ONLY learn that way.  I sincerely doubt it, and I know not ALL kids require it.  I just hope people will think outside the box a bit and look for other ways.  My wife and I have tried a LOT of things with our son, (various rewards, various timeout implementations, loss of privileges, loss of various toys for various periods of time) and some things have worked better than others.  We’re constantly trying to adapt our parenting to his growth as a person.

    Puppies and kittens supposedly learn to not play too rough by the playmate not wanting to play.  I’ve seen this with my two cats.  If one bites too hard, the other refuses to play.  I’ve found that the most effective punishment I can use on my son is to go away and close my door.  He wants my attention (negative or positive) and removing myself gets HIS attention fast.  Engaging him in a battle of wills just gets us into a fight.

  • Tim

    With reference to the part by Amanda in the post, I remember seeing a TV programme about home-schooling a couple of years ago. It featured three families, two in the US and one here in the UK. All were pretty fundamentalist Christian. The overriding impression it gave me was that the emphasis was not on education, or even religion, but control.

  • Check out “The Philosophical Baby” by Alison Gopnick. It will change your outlook and understanding of the mental capacity of 2 year old’s.

  • I still managed to not hit (spank, either way, it hurts) my 2 kids  or any of the kids I watched, and they are all in one piece and mostly clothed. I am just saying, I KNOW there is an alternative to hurting your kid. It may not be as immediate, but it is still there.

  • Michael Campbell

    I get what you’re saying.  But when you say “spanking obviously worked”, you’re probably assuming that it worked because your child now knows it’s not right to bite another child.  However, maybe it “worked” because now your son is afraid of being hurt by you if he does something wrong.  Of COURSE if somebody does something bad and then is punished by pain, they likely won’t do it again.  The question is… could an alternative, successful punishment be administered without making your child afraid you’re going to harm them?  I’m guessing there is if you research it and try out some things instead of resorting to striking your offspring.

    I never said that spanking is the ONLY form of punishment that should not be administered.  To justify hitting your child by saying your friend’s dad tortured him without actually hitting him is pretty sad.

  • Hey when I’m right , I’m right.

  • In no way am I attempting to justify corporal punishment of children. I did not say it was OK, I just said that to call a parent who lightly slaps their child’s rear end a child abuser is ridiculous. And it’s offensive to those of us who DO understand what child abuse is.

    I do not advocate spanking, and I agree that many other forms of discipline work really well. But I do not see child-rearing in the black-and-white way that you do.

    Your father-in-law crossed the line when he spanked your daughter, but as far as your wife resenting him for spanking her when she was a kid…Seriously, tell her to get over it and grow up already. He did the best he could. He wasn’t perfect like you and your wife are.

  • David Brown

    It is a no win situation.  If spanking is assault then would not hoisting your kid up when he wants to around run free be forcible confinement.

  • Dan O.

    I don’t think anyone has any idea what you’re talking about.  What lies? 

  • TiltedHorizon

    The fact that I keep asking for information means that I am willing to listen but all you keep saying is ‘they lie’ without explaining what the ‘lie’ is or why it is a lie. Despite the attempt to distinguish yourself this lack of explanation places you in the same category; i.e. you are failing to live up to the standards you are setting for others.

    Again I say….. please explain.

  • Yes.  My son didn’t injure another child because he was afraid to, knowing that deliberately hurting another child would result in him also being hurt.

    Now, please explain why that is automatically a bad thing.

    Could an alternative punishment be administered?  Do you mean as an alternative to fear?  No.  He would fear being put in the corner, having a toy taken away, etc…  He would fear the consequences of his actions.  Why is that a bad thing?

    As an alternative to pain?  Depends on the child and the situation.  Time outs work on the boy, but not right away.  It often take a week or more of time outs to correct an issue, the boy is rather stubborn.  Do you think I should have let the other child continue to suffer harm during that period?  Or perhaps you think I should have quit my job and stayed home with the kid.  I bet that’s it.  I should be with the boy 24/7, never taking my eyes off him, keeping him safe and stymied.

    You assume, incorrectly and rather stupidly, as I’ve already described what other methods I use, that I haven’t done any research or tried anything else out.  It’s this kind of ignorant judgement or flat out deliberate misrepresenting that I grow weary of. 

  • Yours, for starters. 

  • Maybe my kid is just smarter, more curious, and more stubborn than yours, but redirecting rarely works and there is nothing he loves more than taking something apart and trying to put it back together.  He had figured out how to disable all the baby gates before he was 2, climbed out of his crib for the first time at 18 months, and defeated every playpen we ever tried within an hour of being put inside.

  • I actually have a background in child development as well as having parented 2 of my own kids and having watched many more from birth through 5 years. I am not ignorant on the mental development of humans. I will look into the book, however, in case it has new information.

  • I don’t think anyone would consider puling your kid out of the street to be forcible confinement. I don’t consider spanking and “assault” per se, but I do consider it unnecessary violence. It causes pain. That s violent. It is unnecessary, millions of humans are raised without it.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I was spanked a lot as a child and I don’t think it has affected me in any sort of way.

    My parents classic line was, “this is going to hurt me a lot more than it is going to hurt you”

    I once shoved a book down my pants because I was going to get it with the belt. That didn’t go over to well with my father.

    I’m a father now and while my child will be 13 on the 11th I never once felt the need to ever spank them to correct an action.

    Back in the 70’s though spanking just seemed to be the norm. I remember a teacher that had a paddle in the classroom and she used it on our behinds and you didn’t dare go home and tell mom or dad because you then would have received another spanking.

    The teacher back then would have been given a medal, today they get a jail sentence. 

  • I already have.

    1 – They claim spanking doesn’t work.  That is a lie, as many here have pointed out.  They try the whole ‘anecdotes aren’t data’ BS, except all they have is anecdotes too, the ‘studies’ are on the anecdotes , self-reporting, and naturally biased.

    2 – They pull out the ‘spanking is teaching kids to be violent’ BS.  It’s also a lie. 

    I’ve called out other lies throughout this thread.  Please feel free to look through and note them.

    Dan, as his big lie, says that spanking a toddler means raising a toddler that will hit others.  That is a lie, a bald-faced lie.

  • If you can’t fathom that all children are different and that there is no one correct perfect way to parent, then it is most definitely you who aren’t ready to be a parent.

  • When I didn’t spank for running in the street to get the ball, he’d do it constantly to the point I wasn’t able to let him play with the ball in the yard.   I spank him for it, and it’s happened a grand total of…let’s see…he did it one time in the spring, first time out after the snow melted.  Got swatted, hasn’t done it since. I spanked him on the 4th of July of the previous year, and he didn’t do it again the rest of that year after doing it two or three times a week prior to that.

    While he doesn’t play outside without me watching him, it’s now okay for him to actually get to run around and play instead of staying within five feet of me.  He learned that an action has consequences without suffering for it.  THAT’S what parenting is.

  • Actually, all the ‘evidence’ shows is that A) anti-spankers like to lie,  B) anti-spankers can’t tell the difference between spanking and abuse, and C) anti-spankers have no clue how to account for bias when reviewing ‘studies’.

  • Anonymous

    I was NOT spanked as a child and hey, I turned out OK.

    I’m a mother too and I know the temptation to hit someone smaller and weaker who is defying you — well, it’s very tempting.  But spanking a toddler is brutality.  With toddlers, you have to remove them or remove the object. They have very poor impulse control and need to be protected from themselves. There is no point in punishing a toddler for reaching for a hot pan. REMOVE THE PAN. If the child is sticking pins into an outlet, remove the child, remove the pins, block the outlet — or all three.
    By the time a child is 4 or 5, they have better impulse control and punishments appropriate to the crimes are in order. Time outs begin to have some effect.

    Yes, there are lots of justifications for striking a child but ADULTS should have impulse control.  That’s what it means to be grown up. You’re able to control yourself from hitting people who annoy you. And if you can control yourself when you’re being annoyed by some clerk at the DMV, you should be even better when it comes to your own child.

  • I was never spanked, but I was hit. Hit a fair amount. A couple times on the head, other times I was slapped or hit in various body parts or just pushed around the house. 
    Which is to say nothing of the psychological tortures my mother used. It got to the point where any time I thought there was a chance my mother’d get a bit upset I would immediately get quiet and submissive and very very scared that she’d start screaming and chasing me around the house. Did this help…? No. It didn’t help me to stay within her arbitrary fence of “what’s right,” and it didn’t help me to do what was right for me. In the short run or the long. 
    My relationship with her has been kind of complicated ever since. I doubt either of us will ever fully forgive each other for those years, and we pretty much try to act like it never happened. Which, shockingly, can be pretty tough. 

    Her behavior is one of the things that really pushed me over the edge into Atheism, since she is a minister.

  • So what is that fine/fuzzy/non-existent line between spanking and beating?

  • Dan O.

    No, stating that spanking is reasonable or balanced is ignorance.

    And dogs cortices are really small.  I still like dogs, but there are forms of learning in humans (and some other animals) that are qualitatively different.  

  • Vanessa

    As someone who was physically abuse as a child, I can tell you that most of those people who say ‘they’re just fine’ from being hit when they were small probably aren’t. I know this because up until this year, I have been completely oblivious and even in denial about what my past experiences have done to me. I never, ever thought twice about it and just took it as something that is normal in childhood. However, after speaking about it with my sister, she has enlightening me to the realized of what really happened to us and how REAL it was, regardless of how small I thought it was in my head. I never thought of myself of being “one of those people” – you know, the ones’ that have those experiences, but the truth is I AM and I have been damaged by what has been done.
    I have only realized this recently and it is very painful, but I know I would have done more damage to myself, my future, and my relationships if I had continued to block it out and not recognize it. There are issues now, mental and emotional, that can be explained and perhaps even improved from here on forward. Those who are still in denial like I was say they are “just fine” because they haven’t yet realized how ‘not fine’ they actually are. I think those that put themselves into such a position and mind-set are doing more damage to themselves than they ever realized. Of course, I know there are exceptions, but I just speak from experience.

  • Dan O.

    “Parents are more likely to use aversive techniques of discipline when they are angry or irritable, depressed, fatigued, and stressed.”


    Just sayin’…

  • How is striking someone not violent? 

  • Hubba

    Everything learns if you smack it. 

  • Okay, can you give us some evidence of how it is not a bad thing to physically strike your children? I’d really love to hear it.

  • Michael Campbell

    Regarding your statement:

    “Yes.  My son didn’t injure another child because he was afraid to, knowing that deliberately hurting another child would result in him also being hurt.Now, please explain why that is automatically a bad thing.”

    Because you’re teaching him inflicting pain on somebody is bad by inflicting pain upon him.

    I know I won’t change your mind.  I get that.  But if you read my statement above you should now understand why I don’t understand your justification.

  • Anonymous

    Hitting children AT ALL is hitting them hard enough to hurt them because you are showing them that you are willing to intentionally inflict pain on someone you are supposed to love.  That has a very high likelihood of causing emotional scars, and teaching them that they don’t deserve to have their bodies respected.

    Moreover, you’re not “getting their attention” as a benign thing–if you wanted to do that, you could exclaim or dance a jig.  You are “getting their attention” by hurting them.

    If speaking hasn’t worked, you’re not done speaking.  Some minor loss of privileges may be necessary if they’ve done something harmful or if they’re testing your limits, but resorting to using physical force does not teach anything, it just uses your greater size to force the (temporary!) semblance of compliance.

  • I agree with most of this. It’s up to the parent to be creative. The only thing is, there is very little difference between spanking your children and hitting them. Most children respond well to a smack across the face. Doesn’t make it alright.

  • Vince Winkler

    I was spanked as a child, and I was at the top of my class when I graduated from high school. 

    I wasn’t being rebellious (in the usual sense), I was just acting like a brat, or being a jerk to those around me.

    Anecdotes are useless. Can a child who was spanked be raised as a perfectly fine, happy, and productive member of society? Yes. How about a child who was never spanked. Yes.

    My parents, even though they spanked me and my brothers, also told me daily (and still do today) how they love me unconditionally. Maybe that’s a bigger factor than spanking.

  • Kiss on the cheek is cheating. Unless you’re both from France or something.

  • Michael Campbell

    I never called a person who gently swipes their child’s rear end an abuser as you state.  Just don’t say that hitting your kid in the ass- however light it is- is not inflicting pain for the purpose of punishing a child, because it is.  It’s just to a lesser degree.

    I’ll tell my perfect wife to “get over it”.  Thanks for the sound pyschological advice.

  • Haha my son actually likes getting spanked. Looks like I’ve raised a sadist.

  • Nena

    So I shouldn’t have taken steps to make my child afraid to run out into the street? That is absurd.

    Yes, “instilling fear” is absolutely critical when you are talking about things that can fucking kill them. Maybe I made a mistake by using spanking and maybe I didn’t, but you claiming indignantly that spanking is “never okay” is arrogant and infuriating.

  • Wow.  Amazing.  Did you know, when your child misbehaves, it can make you angry, irritable, depressed, fatigued, and stressed?

    So, interestingly enough, parents are more likely to use discipline when they are angry, irritable, depressed, fatigued, and stressed.

    Isn’t it just amazing how much the anti-spankers like misrepresenting the situation?

    Just saying.

  • You’re right. A quick beating is much better than getting hit by a car. 

  • The same place as the line between sending your kid to bed without dinner and starving your kid.

    The same place as the line between disagreement and trolling.  Which explains why the line is beyond your ability to grasp.

  • Nena

    A kiss on the cheek is cheating? That is the most absurd thing I have ever read.

  • TiltedHorizon

    1) They claim spanking is harmful and counterproductive to its primary intent; i.e. teaching ‘proper’ behavior. I have not read every post here but that is the general consensus, I have not yet seen anyone state that “spanking doesn’t work”. While we are on the subject, the counter claim of “spanking doesn’t work” is “spanking works”. The problem with that claim is unless someone can honestly say they have spanked thousands of children with no long term effects, physical or mental (to the children, not the spanker). Then this claim too is anecdotal, self-reporting, and naturally biased. By your definition it is a lie.

    2) This is only a lie when presented as an absolute. i.e. 100% of kids spanked grow up to be adults who spank or are violent to others. This is not the case, I was spanked and whipped, so was my Brother, neither of us repeat this form of punishment with our own children. While this means spankings does not directly influence violence in adults it is too easy to sweep the issue under the rug by labeling it harmless. The reason my Bother & I opt against spanking is because to remain effective it has to escalate. The weak little slap to the back of a toddler’s hand will not work on a teenager, if corporal punishment is one’s only tool then only hindsight can say when or if it has gone too far, by that point the damage is done.

    As for Dan’s ‘lie’, it is generally accepted that toddlers pattern their social behavior after others. While there is no 100% correlation between spanking and violence it is really not a logical leap to see how this can accepted as ‘normal’ by a toddler thus becoming repeatable behavior until ‘corrected’, likely by further spanking.

  • Anonymous

    OH MY GOD–You slapped your three-month old in the face for HALF A FUCKING HOUR???  You are a monster.  Get help now.  That is totally un-fucking-acceptable.

    And, really, was he “learning” about biting?  Can you imagine being three months old and thinking “Why is the food giant slapping me in the face?!”  And, was all your slapping really teaching him anything if he would do it repeatedly? Couldn’t you have just stopped breastfeeding for a moment? Or made a mildly loud noise? Couldn’t you have just acknowledged that he’s three months old and probably barely understands that he has teeth, or what biting is, or that YOU SHOULDN’T SLAP A THREE MONTH OLD?!?!?

    False dichotomy alert: this may amaze you, but in fact, children who are never spanked do NOT in fact get themselves burned, electrocuted, or run over at higher rates like all the spanking apologists insist is the inevitable result of not spanking.  Moreover, spanked kids do not necessarily stop investigating whatever the dangerous thing is, at least not for very long.  Technically, you know this because your three-month-old kept going back to the behavior that you’re insisting slapping was necessary to curb, but you still insist on spanking.

    Just admit that when you spank, swat, or otherwise hit a kid who is doing something dangerous you are acting out YOUR frustration, not actually acting for the child’s safety, and if the kid isn’t able to understand that hot things or speedy things are inherently dangerous, they won’t be able to understand that you are spanking them to associate with those things and they should avoid said dangerous thing even when you’re not around or out of reach.

    Oh, and don’t slap three-month-olds in the face.  That’s just fucked up.

  • Vince Winkler

    I am disappointed that you think I am sick. I was not “treated like a dog,” though in my house that wouldn’t be a bad thing, since Wesley was treated like royalty. I am not a pathological liar. Though if I were, I guess you couldn’t trust me to be honest about that, but I will continue on the assumption that you can.

    I was spanked when I was a kid, and I think it’s awfully condescending to say that those who are dissimilar to you are inferior.

    You have your anecdotes about your children that are “one million times better” than kids who are spanked. You want mine?

    I was spanked. I graduated at the top of my high school class (technically #3 of 500, but the two above me are dead to me now :P). I’m attending a major university on a full-ride scholarship. (I am majoring in Psychology, if you’re interested.) When I was in high school, I was chosen to be an ambassador for the school: I showed people around, made them feel welcome and comfortable, gave them someone to talk to or direct questions toward if they needed anything. Once or twice a week (depending on my classes), I would read to the kids in the Special Education department. I volunteer once a month at a no-kill animal shelter. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I’ve never done drugs. 

    Neither of my parents are religious (one is from a fairly religious family, the other from a not-so-religious one). They told me (and tell me) every day how much they love me. They’ve never pressured me into something I didn’t want to do. 

    The last time I actually hurt someone was in self-defense about three years ago, though I will kill a spider if I can work up the nerve. Those things are friggin’ creepy.

    My parents are good people. I like to think of myself as a good person. If I ever have kids, will I spank them? Maybe, maybe not. But no matter what they will know that I love them. I think that’s more important.

  • Anonymous

    So why are you still spanking if it obviously doesn’t work and she’s still hitting the TV with a croquet mallet and climbing on anything and everything?  Maybe your “discipline” isn’t doing any good at all and she’s just developing better impulse control as little kids do as they grow up.  Maybe accepting that a 2- or 4-year-old isn’t going to have perfect behavior no matter what you do, and a time-out will suffice for teaching, and that intentional, calculated infliction of pain is just plain creepy?

    No, I don’t think you’re “abusive”–just misguided, and you need to have more respect for your children and their developmental stages and their bodies.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, and abusers use “spanking” as a cover for their abuse.  Once you don’t respect someone’s fundamental right to be free of intentionally inflicted harm, and once society encourages that other, bigger, more powerful people get to decide how much pain is acceptable to inflict on the most vulnerable, you have an abusive mentality, and you can’t really be surprised when people take it farther than you think is genteel.

  • Anonymous

    All children are different but there isn’t a single one whom it’s acceptable to starve.  All children are different but there isn’t a single one whom it’s acceptable to rape.  All children are different and there isn’t a single one whom it’s acceptable to isolate.  All children are different and there’s not a single one whom it’s acceptable to spank.

    There isn’t one correct way to parent, but all the ways that might be correct don’t include spanking.  Spanking is an automatic fail on your parenting methods.

    And if you slap a three-month-old in the face, you sure as hell aren’t ready to be a parent!

  • Rich Wilson

    The teacher back then would have been given a medal, today they get a jail sentence.

    Maybe in Maine, but not in many other states.

    (ok, not sure exactly what “corporal” means, and if a paddle is included, but I suspect a paddle would be fine in most of the ‘permitted’ states.)

  • TiltedHorizon

    “Anecdotes are useless.”

    In some cases, yes they are, in this case no. Any study of the subject, pro or con, can only collect anecdotal evidence to form a conclusion. The only way to get a definitive answer would be to actually spank thousands of children, increasing the harshness along the way adolescence to determine at what point something breaks.

    I’ll chose to error on the side of caution here.

    “My parents, even though they spanked me and my brothers, also told me daily (and still do today) how they love me unconditionally. Maybe that’s a bigger factor than spanking. ”

    I have to agree, this can certainly dull the punishment but ultimately it won’t erase it, only time will tell if it was enough.

  • APatheist

    It is possible to correct that behavior without hitting. You could end the nursing session, set him away from you and say “no biting.”  Some babies will go on a nursing strike if you are overly harsh when they bite at the breast. I’m glad your son was willing to return to the breast but you should be aware that not all babies will react this way. You could possibly be harming another’s breastfeeding relationship. 

    Peaceful parenting is hard. Sometimes it takes a long time, but it is worth it. 

  • Anonymous

    Just so you know, I’ve read lots of accounts of people who found the hugs after a spanking to be some of the most conflicting and emotionally upsetting things.  It teaches people that you can cause someone physical pain and still claim to love them. Very disturbing, really.  Moreover, many parents who make a commitment to non-violence actually CAN reason with their 2-year-olds, or set appropriate expectations.

    You only think you can’t reason with a 2-year-old because you’ve decided to take the easy way out and spank.

  • Dan O.

    I was going to ask my wife to respond to this one.  This is what she would have said.  Thank you!

  • Crunchyrenee

    Spoken like a true fundamentalist- “if you didn’t wanna get pregnant, close your legs”.

    Bet you don’t have kids.

  • This thread is full of such evidence.

  • Anonymous

    Why don’t you actually read the studies to which he linked and offer a critique so we can assess its validity, rather than just close off your mind by saying “bias!”??

  • —Because you’re teaching him inflicting pain on somebody is bad by inflicting pain upon him.—



    A tiny amount of pain, if you even are willing to go so far as to call it pain.  Somewhere around a ‘1’ on the scale of ‘how bad does it hurt, 1-10?. 

    This to teach him not to cause other kids pain that is closer to a 4, or to prevent him from experiencing pain in the 6-10 range along with permanent damage.


    What I don’t get is why you are so adamant that this is a bad thing?  How can you rationalize to yourself that this is bad parenting?  I’d like to see things from your point of view, but I’m afraid I live in the real world.

  • Anonymous

    The three-month-old slapper is now resorting to “I know you are but what am I?!”

  • The simple fact that you think a swat to the rear is anywhere in the same neighborhood as a slap to the face demonstrates you are willfully ignorant and intellectually dishonest.

  • Your willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty only serve to demonstrate just how ridiculous your stance really is.

  • Dan O.

    There’s discipline and there’s discipline.  

    Certain disciplines like routines, rituals, games, etc. can be used literally without limit.  And they’re disciplines in the strict sense.  Our 2 year old will remind us when it’s time for her to go to bed.  That’s discipline.  Discipline (and not fear of pain) can be its own incentive.  And the cool thing is that they can be transferred across contexts.  Reference a ritual that a child has a positive association with in one context into a brand new context, and you have a head start in promoting the behavior you want.  It’s crazy, but it’s true. 

    I just can’t fathom why people think that kids are evil.  They really are, for the most part, as Locke says… Tabula Rasa.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    Spanking taught me that if I screw up and don’t listen to my parents they are going to turn my bum red.

    I did not grow up thinking violence was a good solution to problems. Granted I got into a number of fist fights when I was younger but that wasn’t because of being spanked. It was because I lived in a piss poor neighborhood.

  • Your reading comprehension needs serious work.  Please do not breed, vote, or drive, as you lack the mental capacity to do any of the above listed.

  • You’re welcome. I’ll mail you a bill.

    Earlier today my toddler undressed himself and ran around the house naked. When I caught him I scooped him up and patted him on his cute little bare behind. He giggled joyously and threw his arms around me.

    Oh crap, according to your definition I just inflicted pain and punishment on him. He’ll be scarred for life!

  • Please seek help for your inability to process language.

  • Crunchyrenee

    Did you even read her post? or did you just go into “you are a bad person” mode right away?
    Ever had your tender, sore, nipple chomped on? A light smack is appropriate, and I doubt it would even rise to the level of a true smack. And if it needed to be done several times, then never again, I say it worked.

    I’m pretty tired of all the overreaction here. Kids aren’t so delicate that a few smacks is gonna destroy them for life. Could other methods work? Maybe, it depends on the kid, and depends on the family. but all the self righteousness over here is making me a bit sick.

    (if my kid wouldn’t quit biting, there would be formula in their future, but I would try getting them to stop biting first.)

  • Crunchyrenee

    Glad YOU aren’t in charge of who is and who is not a parent. self righteousness run rampant….

  • dcardona

    It did work. You are being purposely obtuse in your reading of my comment. Those are obviously examples, never implied as recurring instances. The few times discipline included a spank, it kept her from doing certain things until she fully understood the underlying reasoning and developed/increased impulse control.

    The calculation you call creepy is a set of rules for me to follow that she has learned and understands. She has never feared or been surprised by a spank just as she’s never feared or been surprised to be sent to her room. I think respect for her includes letting her know that I have rules to follow, too.

    You mention that kids aren’t going to have perfect behavior… if you’ll notice, I did, too. In my comment I mentioned I’ve done it a handful of times. Let’s call a handful 5. So, 5 spanks in 30 months averages 1 instance of physical discipline every 6 months when immediate physical danger was present.

    You’re right, I’m a “misguided” abuse robot.

  • Crunchyrenee

    No, you are a self righteous, judgmental, know it all.

  • Anonymous

    No one is saying spanking is going to destroy kids for life.  We are saying it is a violation of that child’s fundamental right not to be hurt.

    The three-month-old can barely figure out what he’s doing, and he’s THREE MONTHS OLD so a “light smack” is NEVER appropriate.  Why have such vengeance against a kid who has just developed teeth? Yes, parenting is hard, but that doesn’t give you the right to hit your kids.

    Just like it’s not okay to tap your coworker’s ass because at least it’s not rape.  No, it will not mess her up for life, but she has a right not to be assaulted.

  • What part of a gentle tap and a word are ‘overly harsh?’

    I’m better off bleeding and letting him go hungry?  Seriously?

    —You could possibly be harming another’s breastfeeding relationship. —

    How?  I am not breastfeeding anyone else.  Other parents are perfectly in their rights to do what works for them, whether it be using my method or pumping or putting the kid on formula.  Plenty of options out there.  I used the one that worked for me, and it didn’t cause my boy any pain or suffering.

    Seriously, no pain.  It was a tap.  Not a swat.  Tap.  The same amount of pressure isn’t even sufficient to click a mouse button.  The hysterical overreaction is fucking hilarious, and just serves to show how ridiculous you guys really are.

  • Crunchyrenee

    amazing but TRUE! Couldn’t agree more.

  • I have.  They suffer from sampling bias, confirmation bias, and biased researchers.  That is the critique.  I suggest you take a basic statistics class.

  • Please, continue.  I truly appreciate you giving me plenty of ammo for when I say the anti-spanking groups are nothing but a bunch of dishonest, hysterical idiots.

  • Anonymous

    You can’t just throw out terms of what biases you’ve heard of.  I actually have taken several graduate-level statistics courses, biostats, research ethics, study design, etc., so your listing of terms is really, really unimpressive.  You actually have to QUOTE that particular study and make a case for what ACTUAL THINGS in the protocol lead you to believe a certain bias exists.  Also, you further have to make a case for that bias being so pervasive that it invalidates the results of the study.  Lots of studies in lots of different areas suffer from recall bias, but if they correct for it as much as possible, the results are still interpretable.

  • AFbrat

    My parents used to spank me when I was a child. It didn’t work to as a form of discipline at all. In fact, my parents have told me that I used to respond to them spanking me with phrases such as “Didn’t hurt!” It caused me to be filled with contempt and momentary hatred of them. And it served to teach me the lesson of be more sneaky- don’t get caught. I feared the “conversations” we would have with each other more- in this manner they could always make me feel bad for doing wrong. I remember sometimes finding it entertaining when the felt the need to spank me, it was like they couldn’t think of the correct wording or answers so they had to show me I had done wrong rather than calmly explain it. The phrase, “you are older you should know better,” always comes to mind. “You” are a grown adult, “I” am a kid. Can’t “you” control “your” emotions better than that?

  • — I’m bothered by what seems to me to be the argument that the light slap
    is the only, or at least clearly the best way to direct the behavior of
    a small child.—

    This statement is intellectually dishonest.  None of the folks saying spanking is acceptable are saying it’s the only or even the best way.  We are saying that it may be the best option in a particular situation for a particular child.

    In the past couple months, my son has been in time out several times.  He has had multiple toys taken away.  He has been grounded from several activities.  He has not been spanked because there was no occasion that warranted a spanking or in which a spanking would have been the best option.  I’m hoping he has reached a point in his development in which spanking will no longer be necessary due to his increased ability to reason and consider consequences.

  • Troll

  • —-I don’t think anyone would consider puling your kid out of the street to be forcible confinement.—

    It’s forcibly confining on about the same level that a spanking is inflicting violence.

  • Anonymous

    The misbehavior, the not listening to you, the impulsivity, etc., is recurring.  The spanking is not getting her to respect your authority any more than consistent non-violent consequences would.  Moreover, I’ll bet if someone else were raising exactly the same child and used non-physical disciplining methods and was getting the exact same results (generally good behavior, but occasionally climbing on and smashing things), I strongly suspect you and other spanking apologists would insist that the kid needed to be spanked because it would “work” instead of just realizing that kids can be willful little shits sometimes.

    Having rules doesn’t make a violation of a person’s body okay.  Rationalizing your behavior by setting up rules doesn’t change the fact that you’re intentionally inflicting pain on your child.  You can do it in the most by-the-book way, but it doesn’t change the fact that you think her body belongs to you as you see fit, and that you’re entitled to hit it, and that is just plain not okay.  I’m glad you don’t do it that much, but I’m saddened that you think you need to do it at all, especially when parents have shown multiple times that they can get just as good results as you have without resorting to violence.  It’s a philosophical change you need to make–someone who loves someone NEVER hits them.  It’s very simple.

  • Crunchyrenee

    I wasn’t spanked, but looking back, I should’ve been. I do think it would have helped- I know myself and my personality, and know it would’ve saved me a lot of heart and head aches later on.

    I am neutral on the issue. If you want to spank, if it works for you, that’s fine. If you don’t, thats fine too. There is no one way to parent, even though some of the zealous, righteous, commentors think they know all. To each their own, as far as abuse isn’t occurring. (and no, I do not think spanking is abuse).

    One thing I did notice is that there are SO many more bratty, entitled, rude, little kids running around today. Our house has 7 kids (and another one the way) so I see lots of them. The more “gentle” (GD is a parenting philosophy, its not merely no spanking) the parents, the less behaved, and disrespectful, their kids are. I believe that firm boundaries and age appropriate responsibilities and natural consequences are best for my family, but I have smacked the hand of any kid grabbing dangerous things they shouldn’t, or running into the street, etc. I also don’t think fear is necessarily a bad thing, if it’s proportionate.

    Anyone here actually READ the Pearls book? or do you just read the quotes people pull out? That book is easy to quote mine, in both good and bad ways. If you actually read it, it is more about a loving, trusting relationship than hitting, and is not about abuse. I think it would be easy for an abusive person to take it too far, but they often take everything to far. (I feel slimy defending the Pearls, as they are crazy. But the book isn’t what people make it out to be if you read the whole thing.) Its available online, google it if you’re curious.

  • Spanking isn’t nice. I think Gen Y-ers make no-spanky parents. We’ve progressed. Hitting your kids isn’t cool. I take pride in another adult never provoking me to raise my hand against them… the only exception might be if another adult hit my kids. Then I’d have reason to hurt them. So why is it OK for ME to hit my kids? Why would I ever, EVER want to do such a thing? Hands are for holding, for touching, for protecting. I’m there to protect my kids from OTHER adults meaning to hurt them — why would I ever become one of those myself? Spanking is a biblical thing, we don’t need it.

  • http://lmgtfy.com/?q=bias+in+statistical+studies

    The level of reading comprehension you’ve already displayed demonstrate to me that you are incapable of understanding the explanation.  Once you have educated yourself on the subject of bias in statistical studies, the bias in these studies will become self apparent and you will no longer need my explanation.

  • Rich Wilson

    This has been the most enlightening blog post since http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/09/20/a-question-about-circumcision/

  • Anonymous

    Um, I think you know perfectly well I was pointing out that the “every child is different” is no excuse for violating that child’s safety and sense of self.  Not hard to understand, really.  Yes, the fact that every child is different means that you have to be responsive and creative in your parenting.  It does NOT mean that you can ignore your obligation not to harm the little person who needs you and trusts you.

  • Yes.  Yes you are.

  • saying “spanking is never OK” is just a statement of principle. 

    it affected you Nena to the point where you thought he was arrogant and infuriating. but they’re just your responses because you’re taking it personally.

    you’re right, maybe you made a mistake, maybe you didn’t. we need to protect our children. 

    but there are always better ways to do things. and having a no-spank policy forces you to come up with better, smarter, less violent ways to guide your kids.

    how would you feel if someone else hit you? that’s assault, right? so why would you ever want to do the same thing to your child? 

    that’s the point that was being made. you just took it personally, Nena

  • Dan O.

    “Ever had your tender, sore, nipple chomped on?”

    Have you ever spoken to a lactation consultant?  They teach 3 methods: (i) lightly hugging baby in when biting (shortly obstructs nasal passages, causes the jaw to immediately relax), (ii) temporarily unlatching, and (iii) ending the session.  Stern “no’s” are  recommended against because they are not understood and could prompt a nursing strike.  

    In none of these cases is “learning” or “discipline” anything to do with it.  The thought isn’t merely wrong, it’s bizarre   

    Lactation consultation hotlines are available as free services through the La Leche League. 

  • Anonymous

    Translation: I, WithinThisMind, have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about and couldn’t possibly apply these terms to these studies in any meaningful way.  So, I’ll just say that “the bias in these studies will become self-apparent” and that will magically make me seem smart!!  Who’s she gonna believe, the American Academy of Pediatrics or some random baby-slapper who can name different types of bias on the internet?

  • I wonder…How many of these hysterical anti-spankers take their child to a doctor to have the kid (often held down and usually without any form of pain killer) punctured with a sharp needle and injected with a variety of chemicals and modified forms of viruses, something which is undeniably painful, and yet claim it is in the child’s best interest?

    The deliberate infliction of pain and violence upon a child, and I wonder how they justify it?

    Especially given that there are studies out there that show that this procedure may have serious long-term consequences for the child, studies whose proponents swear have absolutely no bias?

    I’ll bet they claim these ‘vaccinations’ are the best way to protect their children from the world around them.  I mean, wouldn’t it be better to just remove the kids from where they might be exposed to these ‘viruses’?

    They are no better than Vlad Tepes, impaling people on stakes for dinner entertainment.

  • I wonder…How many of these hysterical anti-spankers take their child to a doctor to have the kid (often held down and usually without any form of pain killer) punctured with a sharp needle and injected with a variety of chemicals and modified forms of viruses, something which is undeniably painful, and yet claim it is in the child’s best interest?

    The deliberate infliction of pain and violence upon a child, and I wonder how they justify it?

    Especially given that there are ‘studies’ out there that show that this procedure may have serious long-term consequences for the child, studies whose proponents swear have absolutely no bias?

    I’ll bet they claim these ‘vaccinations’ are the best way to protect their children from the world around them.  I mean, wouldn’t it be better to just remove the kids from where they might be exposed to these ‘viruses’?

    They are no better than Vlad Tepes, impaling people on stakes for dinner entertainment


  • Rich Wilson


    [bothered by the idea that] light slap

    is the only, or at least clearly the best way


    We are saying that it may be the best option in a particular situation for a particular child.

    So you’re qualifying it to a particular situation/child.  Fine.  I should have done that as well.

    My point is that in my opinion it is never the best option.  I can’t prove that because I don’t know your kid(s).  I’d have to be able to prove that in ALL situations with ALL kids, any kind of spanking isn’t the best option, and I can’t do that.  But a lot of people manage to raise good kids who don’t run into streets without spanking.  And yes, a lot of people have manged to raise good kids with some level of spanking.

    Parenting is just about the touchiest subject out there.  Everybody’s a critic.  I just think it can be done without any spanking, and going further on a limb, children are better off for it.  I think a lot of the reason people spank is the same as why monkeys don’t climb ladders for bananas and we trim the ends of the roast beef.  It’s just done that way.  And we grew up just fine even though we were spanked, so we don’t have a lot of reason to swap out behavior that, at least in the short term, certainly works.

  • MsCrazyPants

    The thing I remember about spankings is the humiliation.   Besides spankings or being slapped, everything seemed to be an exercise in being humiliated, laughed at, put down, and so on.    I don’t know of any really successful people who had much of that in their childhood.

    I’ve never met an educated expert on children that felt the need to use spanking.   Once it’s already been used as a method though, I think it’s very difficult to switch to some other method, because both the child and parent have to be completely retrained.   No one is really trained well for dealing with children, and as soon as someone has a child, they dub themselves an expert by experience of doing whatever they did.

  • Note:  I did not smack, slap, or strike him.  That’s the pathetic and hysterical overreaction of the idiots who can’t understand the difference between telling a kid no ice cream and starving a kid to death.

    He would latch on, nurse for a few minutes, then bite.  At which point, I tapped my finger against his mouth and said ‘NO’ in a loud voice.  The voice was the startle.  The tap was to indicate where the problem was.  This was on the advice of my lactation consultant and it was supported by friends of mine who have also successfully breast feed multiple children.  And, based on the fact that it worked and my son was a very happy, healthy baby, it was obviously a fine tactic to use.

    I prefer that option to cutting off my son’s air or food supply, which are the suggestions offered by Dan O.  I’m starting to wonder if they are projecting their own
    behavior/desires onto others when they make these overwrought
    accusations.  They have the urge to slap and beat their children, so
    they automatically assume that’s what we mean by spanking?

  • Allie

    When my father hit me as a child, my response was to withdraw from him, stop confiding in him, and continue the behaviour that caused the smack – but do it more secretively. Because, as a rational child, I was served an irrational punishment with no explanation as to why I deserved it. The only measurable change in me was a loss of respect for my parent.

  • A parent can also be a horrid monster and raise a good child, or be the best parent out there and raise a monster.

    It works in the short term.  What you are missing is that what matters.  Once a child is only enough that reason works, spankings should never again be used except in the most extreme of circumstances.  View spankings as a deterrent, something used to keep a child out of a particular situation until they are capable of understanding WHY they should stay out of a particular situation.

    I found a swat better than letting him get burns to understand why he shouldn’t touch the radiant heaters.  I also figured that was better than freezing to death in a Minnesota winter.  I think he’s better off for it, not having burns or freezing.

  • Um, I think it’s pretty crazy that anyone would ever, ever, EVER suggest that you recommend that children be punished for wetting the bed by being hosed off naked. Or that you should choose between a willow/switch, a paddle, a wooden spoon, or a “flexible piece of plumbing pipe” to spank a child.

    I don’t care what else it says. What more do you need to know?

  • —I have not yet seen anyone state that “spanking doesn’t work”.—

    Please read the thread in it’s entirety before responding again.  Several people have postulated that spanking doesn’t work in spite of being provided with copious amounts of evidence to the contrary.

    —-The reason my Bother & I opt against spanking is because to remain
    effective it has to escalate. The weak little slap to the back of a
    toddler’s hand will not work on a teenager, if corporal punishment is
    one’s only tool then only hindsight can say when or if it has gone too
    far, by that point the damage is done.—-

    This is where you are being dishonest.  In spite of all the times we’ve demonstrated otherwise, you are still pretending that those of us who do use spanking only use spanking.  And in spite of the fact that we have pointed out the situations in which we would use spanking, you persist in claiming we would continue to use spanking long into the years in which other methods become available.

    In short, you are providing plenty of evidence for my original point: .if the anti-spanking folks are so ‘right’, how come they have to lie to ‘prove’ their points?

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I didn’t grow up in Maine but that was an interesting link.

  • Rich Wilson

    Staying away from your situation, and only thinking of mine: I learned to use violence as a control mechanism from early on (age 8 that  I remember).  And by the ‘end’ I was hitting myself and walls to control situations as an adult.  I didn’t hit other people, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I was emotionally and physically abusive.  And in the short term it worked.  I was able to control the immediate situation to my liking.  In the longer term it destroyed relationships.

    And there’s a world of difference between putting a hole in a wall and lightly swatting a kid on the bum.  I don’t know to what degree your swats teach your kids to distrust you.  Probably extremely little if any, and you probably feel none.  Fine.

    I found a swat better than letting him get burns to understand why he shouldn’t touch the radiant heaters.

    Now that’s you being intellectually dishonest.  The implication is that the anti-spankers are letting their kids burn themselves or freeze to death.  You’re not beating your kids, but neither are we letting our kids burn themselves or freeze.

    The moment we assume the other parent doesn’t love their kids is the moment we have entered cognitive dissonance.

  • Michael Campbell

    You’re right.  They’re not in the same neighborhood.  They’re in the same city.  The bottom line:  Purposely hitting your kids to get them to obey you- no matter how hard- is not neede and is the “easy way out” when you can’t figure out what else to do.

  • Michael Campbell

    Well, now you’re just showing how dumb you are.  Thanks for proving my point.

  • Again, please don’t breed, vote, or drive.  You lack the intellectual capacity to do any of the above.

  • Michael Campbell

    I’ll let your recent comment above speak to why I’m adamant that parents should never hit their kids and leave it at that.

  • So, what you are saying is that we can’t discipline at all, because any form of discipline is behavior control and thus, by your definition, abuse?

    Did you at any point use any actual thought when coming to this ‘conclusion’?  What are you, a sixteen year old upset that Daddy won’t let her borrow the car to go to a party and thus all parents are just evil control freaks out to ruin their children’s lives?

  • I grew up with an abusive and manipulative father. I rarely got hit though. My mother and my brother got hit a lot. The reason being that I never stood up to him. I would hide away to stay out of trouble. My mom and my brother stood up to him a lot and were beat a lot. I don’t think they were effected more or less by it than me though. I am now an anti-social loner shut in with anxiety issues. I rarely even leave my bedroom. So yeahh… the abuse doesn’t just effect those directly on the end of the abuse. It effects everyone all around it.

  • —Now that’s you being intellectually dishonest.  The implication is
    that the anti-spankers are letting their kids burn themselves or freeze
    to death.—

    Wrong and a deliberate misread on your part.  They either don’t have children, or are the type of parents who follow their children around constantly and grab them up at the first hint of any ‘danger’, never letting their child have any independence or experiences.

    Actually, I’m willing to bet you a dollar that the most virulent anti-spankers in this crowd either have spanked their children (if they have them at this time) or will spank their children (if they have them in the future).  I’m even willing to bet you that at least one anti-spanker in this group has gone so far as to beat a child and their current stance is a result of the shame they feel from that event.  Since they’ve beaten their child, they assume we do the same.  They are wrong.

    You should definitely not spank.  From what you have said, you are incapable of using physical discipline without going to far, so you shouldn’t do it at all.  Not all of us have that problem, many of us are fully capable of stopping at a single light swat every three months or so, as needed.  It seems you aren’t.  For you, you are correct, no matter the nature of your children, YOU should never, ever use physical discipline.  It has nothing to do with the children or the event, you are the variable that alters the situation to be one in which physical discipline is never the solution.

  • TiltedHorizon

    “Please read the thread in it’s entirety before responding again. Several people have postulated that spanking doesn’t work in spite of being provided with copious amounts of evidence to the contrary.”

    Copious amounts of evidence to the contrary? So you have provided evidence which cannot be called anecdotal , self-reporting, and naturally biased.? Great. Problem solved. Please present it.

    “This is where you are being dishonest.”

    Not dishonest, simply calling it as I see it, I simply don’t belief spanking as punishment is harmless over a long term. You keep projecting your views in assuming that everyone uses spanking only when needed. Have you never heard the expression, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? In projecting your conclusion you fail to consider those who use it exclusively, they do exist. Certainly one light smack to the back of a toddler’s hand can be a benign. The problem is, no one can say with any certainty when or if problems start as a result. Nor can they agree on what is appropriate, one person’s “light smack” is another person’s “not hard enough”. Considering what is at risk, I vote for using other methods, like time-outs or loss of privileges, not throwing them in dark closets or something equally terrible (had to provide exclusions since your style of writing suggest it is needed).

    So… since you have access to copious amounts of evidence to the contrary. How many spankings does one need to inflict before it can be called it “bad”? And how long should one use it before the danger of harm is reached?

  • Anonymous

    You maybe amazed to learn that, in fact,vaccineshave documentedeffectiveness, and that the painis not in fact THE POINT??  No one is claiming that painand discipline causes kidsto be more rigorousabout fighting off microbes!!

    You know, brains and immune systems do not in fact work in the same way!
    If there were a way to vaccinate a kid as effectively without pain, I’d do that, but there is a really obvious difference between painas an unavoidableside effect, and painbeing inflicted for its ownsake?!

  • Kristi

     My kids (all 3 ) learned not to touch the hot stove top after I told them not to and they did it anyway.  They never once touched it again after they experienced it. 

  • Kristi

     Perhaps that should be better worded as “If you don’t have the patience and time to learn effective methods of child rearing, then don’t have children”. 

    Thats not so “fundamentalist”.  But also, with pregnancy….  just because you CAN reproduce, doesn’t always mean you should.  🙂

  • Rich Wilson

    They either don’t have children, or are the type of parents who follow their children around constantly and grab them up at the first hint of any ‘danger’, never letting their child have any independence or experiences.

    You have the same inability to conceive of any possibilities other than the ones you impose, that you claim of the anti-spankers.

    I have a child, and no I’m not a helicopter parent.  Just because you can’t envision it doesn’t mean it can’t exist.  Just like some can’t envision spanking a kid without scaring her for life.

    From what you have said, you are incapable of using physical discipline without going to far

    No clue where you got that idea, not that it matters or I care.  You’re seem to be really trying to make this into a fight, like somebody has to lose so you can win.  In your opinion (I think) spanking is the best option sometimes for some kids.  I disagree.  I’m sure you love your kids.  I’m pretty sure you aren’t going to scar them for life.  We.  Just.  Disagree. On. That. One. Point.

  • PJB863

    I was spanked/beaten as a child.  Did I turn out fine?  I suppose so.  Do I think it’s OK to do this to a kid/fellow human  being?  Absolutely not.  Do I love the parent that did this to me – hell no, I’m glad the fucker is  dead. 

    Any other idiotic questions?

  • Rich Wilson

    Disqus ate my reply.
    I’m a parent.
    I’m not a helicopter.
    My only assertion is that I disagree with you on the single point: I think spanking is never the best option, you think that in some cases for some kids it is.  That’s it.  All the stuff about what I’m capable of, or how anyone who never spanks either doesn’t have kids or is a helicopter parent, or must be defensive because they’re guilty about beating their kids is all red hearing bullshit.

    Sometimes good intelligent people really do understand you- and still disagree with you.

  • thoughtful

    Actually, I detest the book, and recommend that people who are against it read it in full. It’s a very short read, and can be found here, without giving the Pearls a penny:


    The mix of advice on bonding with kids, making them believe that you are saving them from hellfire, setting them to fail and get switched, and calmly reminding them that you are causing pain out of love, is chilling.

  • —You have the same inability to conceive of any possibilities other than
    the ones you impose, that you claim of the anti-spankers.—


    Wrong again.  I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who have gotten lucky and managed to raise good kids without ever having to spank them.

    None of them, however, are so insecure as to need to come in and call parents who do occasionally spank monsters.  No, the kind of hysterical, OMG YOU ABUSERS behavior from the anti-spankers in this thread comes from the guilty conscious of those who have abused (either physically or by being an overprotective stifling helicopter) and/or the complete ignorance of someone who knows nothing of parenting or childcare.

  • I’m just plain anti-hitting-your-kids, regardless of whether it’s “just a smack on the bum” or full on assault and battery. All the kid’s gonna get out of it is, “Mommy/Daddy is hurting me.”

  • Rich Wilson

    Disqus has eaten my reply twice.  Must be God telling me something.

    You spend a lot of time knowing you’re right about other people.  The simple fact is that I think spanking is never the best option, whereas (unless I’m yet again deliberately misreading something and don’t even know it, but I’ll have to depend on your clairvoyance for that one) you think spanking is the best option for some kids some times.

    Everything else is a bunch of red hearing bullshit.

    Sometimes people who disagree with you aren’t evil.  And aren’t stupid.  And love their kids.  It’s time to go read mine some bedtimes stories.

  • I’m astounded a person of your intellectual capacity can dress hir-self in the morning.  Do you perhaps have a medical condition that prevents you from understanding sarcasm and satire, and perhaps interferes with your critical thinking skills?  If so, I’m willing to cut you some limited slack, but would advise you not to take part in debate threads in the future.  You really are very much out of your depth.

  • Your replies posted fine.  I’ve already responded to one of your earlier responses.  You need to work on your reading comprehension as well.

  • Nefari

    How about a reality check here: spanking works. Pain is an effective messenger. Strong emotional association with a message makes the message memorable. We are wired to react to, and to avoid, pain. A person who does not correctly respond to pain has a very short life expectancy. It’s how we are wired and it has survival value.

    That said, is it always the best solution? Of course not. Should it never be applied? Such a strong absolute claim would require strong evidence. But those of you who are not proponents can make your point without coming off as smug. A blithe holier-than-thou declaration that you never needed to spank with a follow up of damning a person who does as unloving, violent, and irreversibly damaging their child is using the same social tactics as those who feel they need to break a child down before bringing them up. It builds nothing but barriers and whatever message you may have has been lost.

    When a person becomes a parent they don’t stop being a person. They still have bad days. They still work 16 hour shifts. They still come home to an estranged spouse or no spouse at all. They still deal with substance and recovery. They still get overwhelmed. And the best choice isn’t always made. But most of these parents aren’t waking up in the morning with the thought that today they are going to inflict pain on their child. 

    If you think you have a better way, don’t demonize. It hurts when you spank a child. When you rub that in someone’s face by telling a parent that they can’t do this and still love their child, you just attacked and all the primordial defense mechanisms just turned on. The message has been lost.

    Let’s show a little compassion to  your fellow parents. You know it’s rough. Show some common ground and acknowledge it.

  • Alima

    …And now you’re just being absurd.

  • I love you for your non-violent parenting methods, and I really love the way you take the time to explain, “here is what you did, this is why it was wrong, and these are the consequences of your actions.” I think that would have helped me greatly as a child.

  • —-Not dishonest, simply calling it as I see it, I don’t belief spanking as
    punishment is harmless over a long term. While neither my Brother or I
    currently resent our parents or are permanently scarred, we both lived
    in fear of making mistakes or worse; being punished for mistakes we did
    not make. In one such event, after returning from elementary school my
    Mother surprised me with “The Belt” for stealing $20 dollars. The
    problem was I never took the money, my Brother did (he was a toddler at
    the time). It’s not possible to “undo” that and it was not an isolated

    Thank you for revealing your bias.  You were not spanked, you were abused, and you lack the critical thinking skills to tell the difference, so you assume all physical discipline is abuse.

  • And that adoptees are “lucky”, and should “just be grateful we were chosen.” *gag*

    (Of course I’m grateful, but just like anyone else, I’m gonna butt heads with my parents now and then.)

  • Demonhype

    Here’s an anecdote of the opposite sort:  I was spanked enthusiastically and by the time I was five I had associated sexual arousal with pain and humiliation–which is a problem that plagues me today, as I fear that I may never be able to experience arousal without abuse and that any relationship I get into will become abusive as a result.  I grew up not realizing that was abnormal, and when I got older and found out that it is (well, not S&M necessarily but  being that way at five years old) I felt I must be some kind of pervert.  I only made the connection in college when I read a book discussion the abomination that is corporal punishment of children and they mentioned that the butt is an erogenous zone.  You, someone who is supposed to “love” this child, are stimulating an erogenous zone using pain and humiliation, and that can be absorbed and internalized in many ways.  I’m not a pervert.  My parents, who were definitely abusive despite loving me and meaning well (yeah, I said it) intrinsically linked pain, humiliation, and sexual arousal in my brain before I had any understanding of what was going on.

    As for “I turned out fine”—I call bullshit.  It could be that the problems it engendered in you are as-of-yet considered socially acceptable.  And that is the kind of thing that you can’t exactly gauge by yourself, especially not without significant bias.  Plus, I suspect most of those people (at least the ones defending the practice) just don’t want to think that their parents were abusive in any degree.  I have no qualms about that and have told them to their face that I consider them to have been abusive, and that having hit me as a child is one thing I will never ever forgive them for.  I will stand at their grave and continue to hate them for that, even as I love them in other ways.

    And for those asses who say “get over it and grow up!”  Ya know what?  Who the hell are you to proclaim what should or shouldn’t screw someone up, or what is too “minor” to continue to be a problem to them?  Would you tell a near-rape victim to “get over it” since the weiner didn’t actually get in so therefore there’s nothing for her to be upset about?  Who the hell are you to tell me the “minor” abuse I suffered that resulted in mental problems I suffer with even today is too small and meaningless for me to be “whining” about?  How I shouldn’t bother myself with ritualized pain and humiliation inflicted on me in retribution for childish misdeeds that were the result of the medication I had to take three times a day, the side-effects of which they totally knew but still thought that pain and humiliation were a suitable way to control those side-effects (and, BTW, my behavior only improved when I outgrew my problem and stopped taking the pills–but at no point in my life has corporal punishment ever “worked”, it only made me hold back until the bastards couldn’t touch me anymore)? Who the hell are you to dictate to me what my feelings should be about things that happened to me?  Oh, I forgot, you’re the same people declaring that violence is a good solution to problems involving children and declaring the evidence to the contrary as being “lies”, totally useless against your Golden Anecdotes and Proclamations to the contrary.

    On that note, people who defend this practice are making me physically ill–taking legitimate studies and calling them lies, while declaring their worthless anecdotes and unevidenced claims are absolute unassailable proof that violence against children is just fine.  I suspect they are like my parents, abusive  but well meaning, who just don’t want to accept they made a mistake that they should be willing to fix.  If they could accept that they were wrong to have spanked us and accept that it was violence that if done to an adult would be assault, and accept that there are many non-violent methods of discipline (I pointed her to SuperNanny–those kids are much worse than we could ever have hoped to be, and she has never said “turn them over your knee, it’s the only way”, so what excuse have you?), and make amends by fighting it today, I could perhaps forgive them for their well-meaning mistake.  But they staunchly refuse to admit to the wrong they did to their children, and that is what makes it more than well-meaning, era-accepted abuse to me and more about their own egos than love for their children.

    I also look forward to the day that this practice is illegal and parents are forced to utilize proven methods that are both non-violent and effectual rather than take the easy, lazy, abusive path.

  • Demonhype

    Why bother?  Facts are useless to this sort.  He will continue to see his assertions and mental twister as somehow superior to any facts or studies that are done.  He’s invested, after all, as are many others like my parents, and to admit the truth is to admit to some level of abuse.

  • Well, if you are going to intentionally inflict pain on someone you love, always have a safe-word.

    Joking aside, I agree with what you said.

  • Demonhype

    On that note, why don’t we employ corporal punishment into the legal system, if pain is such a great way to control behavior and make people better?  Imagine how we could stop reckless driving and speeding if the penalty was to drop your pants, bend over the car, and get a whipping from the cop–a certain no. of strokes for every mile over the speed limit!  I’m sure the pro-spankers would get right behind that!

    Oh, wait.  No they wouldn’t.  More likely they would come up with some mental-twister excuses why such assault on children is totally effectual and good and right, but on an adult it’s totally wrong.  The only real difference?   The latter might be done to them.

  • THIS!!!

    It’s an inherently violent act!

  • TiltedHorizon

    What you call bias, I call experience, what you call abuse was actually “spanking” until the line was crossed. As I have stated repeatedly, only hindsight can tell you when that happens.

    I can’t help but notice, as many times as I have asked for your ‘evidence which cannot be called anecdotal, self-reporting, and naturally biased” you have yet to present any. What part of your “critical thinking skills” is needed to provide me a URL or cite a reliable source? It appears your skill set is limited to hurling insults, considering how little restraint you show in some posts I having trouble trusting your restraint when spanking.

  • Demonhype

    They’re full of false-equivalencies to make abuse seem okay.  “But time out is making them cry!  Isn’t that just as abusive as applying physical pain and intense humiliation to them?”

    No.  No it isn’t.  And you are just saying that to muddy the waters because you know this discussion is not about “do kids enjoy discipline at all?” but about “is this particularly abusive method the only possible way to raise kids?”  This group is just sour that it has been proven that there are non-violent methods that work.  Their only tentative claim to legitimacy was “well, what else can I do?”  Now that it is being made increasingly clear that abuse is not the only possible solution, they’re frantic.

  • Demonhype

    THIS!  Thank you!  I never realized I had problems, and even then never associated my problems with the abuse and just thought there was something defective in my brain or something.  Just because you  believe you are “fine” doesn’t mean you are–it’s easy to repress things, or to misinterpret them, and for lots of reasons including not wanting to believe your parents, who might be well-meaning and whom you might love otherwise–had resorted to essentially abusive behavior on a child.  It’s similar to how children suffering from more severe abuse will blame themselves because they want to think well of their parents.

    Part of growing up is being able to realize when your parents were wrong, regardless of whether they meant well or not, rather than denying it or internalizing it or repressing it.

  • Anonymous

    And you know what–the fact that people have bad days does not entitle them to hit their spouse, their mailman, or their coworker.  We would rightly call that unequivocally unacceptable.

    Moreover, you will notice that overall we are not criticizing those who say, “I used to spank but now I think better of it” or “I lost my temper and spanked once and felt awful afterwards.”  We are criticizing those who insist they are ENTITLED to spank their kids and intentionally cause them pain.

    By the way, let’s not be so compassionate to those poor parents–who vocally insist that spanking their kids is a good thing–that we forget to defend the rights of the children.

  • Anonymous

    Or people who are rightly shocked that you spent half an hour slapping a three month old in the face!

    By the way, have you also noticed that a lot of people posting have stated that they are against spanking because they love their children and don’t want to hurt them?  I don’t think this quite matches your fever-dream of “they must be abusive!!!”  I think that’s called projection, O Baby-Slapper!

  • Demonhype

    The only self-righteousness here is coming from the pro-spankers who are desperate to validate their (or their parents) abusive behavior and are feeling more and more threatened as it becomes less and less acceptable in civilized countries.  And then they turn and accuse the anti-spankers of the same behavior they themselves exhibit.

    My mother says she never smacked me when I started biting on her nipple as a baby.  She looked into other things such as those Dan O mentions below.

    Though when I put it in the context of this conversation a moment later, after she gave her first very definite answer, guess what?  Now she gets frustrated, angry  and confused and “can’t quite remember”.  Like I said, they’re invested in the behavior and have to defend it at all costs.  She won’t outright lie if it’s in this context–not after giving her very-sure totally-not-0onfused answer that she has given for several years when talking about nursing–but she “won’t remember”, because she has an ego to maintain.  Take it out of this context and see how the confusion and anger disappear.

  • Anonymous

    Um, no.  Pulling a kid out of the street uses the minimum level of force to address an imminent threat.  Our legal system more than adequately addresses the need to restrain or confine people who are an imminent danger to themselves and others.  Intentionally inflicting pain, not so much.

    (Note: there are some who do intentionally cause pain in the course of getting the kid out of the street, and this is wrong.  But the causing of pain is wrong, not the getting them out of the street.  This isn’t really that hard.)

  • OC358

    Hi, Hemat. This is a looong comment thread, and I have few logical arguments. Instead I’ll tell you how it went with me.

    I had two sides of the family. On one, spankings were really beatings, a desperate form of attempting to control your kid without actually parenting. I was always terrified. They were out of control, more an expression of her anger than a form of discipline, and I don’t generally spank because I never, never want to let that kind of thing loose or lose my control in that manner. Actually, when I’m REALLY mad, I make you sit in time-out until *I* have it more together.

    On the other side of my family, I got spanked maybe once or twice. There was a paddle hanging on the wall, but punishments were usually more about giving you a time out or sending you to do a chore until you thought about what you had done… The only spanking I remember getting was for going into my grandfather’s workshop. And I knew when I went in there that I was going to get one. And I knew when I got that paddling (just a few swats, not a rageful beating) that it was a last-ditch discipline, employed because if any of us kids got in the shed, someone could be seriously hurt from the equipment, or our grandfather might not be able to do what he needed to do for the ranch if one of the valuable tools was broken, but mostly it was that they didn’t want us hurt, and so it was one of the few things that would earn you a spanking. SERIOUSLY sassing off would earn you one, too, but mostly you had to endanger yourself or others before they thought it was important enough to reinforce with an actual spanking.  I didn’t think it was fair, since it was my grandmother who had sent me in there (!) but I knew it TRULY was because they loved us, and they didn’t want anyone hurt or killed.

    Thanks for listening. I hope this helps.

    I have occasionally smacked a three-or-four year old on the butt before I sent them to the corner, but it’s not a regular occurrance, and they are always spoken to afterward about what happened and why. Not the screaming talking, but actual talking. :0)  And once one of my neice/nephews hit another kid, and I instinctively hit the offender just enough to sting. YOU HIT ME!!! Well, yes, and you hit them. It hurts. Don’t do it if you don’t like it done. But I pretty much think that if you’re still using physical discipline /spanking at all after the age of about 6, it’s the wrong strategy, because they reach an age where you should have more guidance and instruction.

  • Dan O.

    Ummm.  Seriously?  So, (i) it was discipline, and (ii) it was a cheeky caress?  Bullshit, princess. 

  • No Longer Quivering recently posted a chilling account of a former Quiverfull mother who followed Michael Pearl’s child-training methods:

  • Demonhype

    I used to run out in the street.  And for one of only two times in my life, instead of using violence to “instill fear” in me, she explained to me why I shouldn’t do that by telling me a angst-ridden story about what would happen.  The part with my grieving mommy picking up my bloody little sweater out of the street after I was hit by a car was particularly poignant.  After that, I did still start to run into the street, but my mom would just say “remember that story, remember what we talked about?”  and I would immediately listen.

    You might say “oh, isn’t that abuse, talking about blood and gore and yadda yadda, making you cry?”  No, not really.  She didn’t actually inflict violence on me, but she described the kind of violence a car could do to me if it hit me in a way that stuck with me, which is the purpose of not allowing kids to run into the street in the first place.  And she emphasized the “look before you leap” attitude, which also stayed with me in other capacities and helped me to think carefully before doing something rash.  I did not feel abused or humiliated as I did with their favored form of discipline, and I was no more traumatized than I was by watching The Land Before Time or Bambi.

    The other time was when I used to get in fistfights when I was about five–occasionally being the instigator when this fat girl who was my arch-nemesis was particularly angering me.  Rather than use abuse or violence she instead told me a story about how a lawsuit would affect my family, and how my little brother and sister would have all their toys taken away and the whole family would live in a box in an alley, all because I felt the need to resort to violence.  After that, any time I wanted to hit anyone I got this image of my loved ones starving in an alley and have developed rigid control over my more violent characteristics. Since then, I have to be hit first before I hit back, and even then I don’t always really follow through with the first swing–it’s more of a warning shot, saying “I will defend myself, you need to know this”–and will still allow the other person to take another swing before “it’s on”.

    If she’d resorted to violence to try and teach me that, it would not have worked.  It might have stopped me in the short run, but most things my mom tried to beat out of me were the result of medication I was on at the time (and my mom was fully aware of that fact, which still pisses me off), and the rest of them were things I resumed as soon as I got big enough to teach her and my father to take their damned hands off me and talk to me in the face rather than beat my ass–as they should have been doing from the beginning.  I only started having a  better relationship with them when they got the enlightening and life-changing experience of their daughter taking a swing at them and were forced to learn how to deal with me without resorting to abuse–and my open disdain for their pro-spanking ways did save my younger sibs from at least some of the violence given to me.  Kind of hard to whip your kids when there’s someone standing right there judging your behavior, whom you can’t resort to violence on to force her to stop because you know damned well she can take you* and that violence won’t change her judgement of you.

    *Even as a teen, I was strong.  And mean.  And willing to do anything in order to defend myself.  And they knew it.  They also knew that outside of my hatred of them for their socially-sanctioned well-meaning abusiveness that I did respect their age and experience, and that their opinions and advice would always be not only considered by me but sought by me. Interestingly, I, the only kid who has ever called them out on their abuse, fistfought with them, and as such as defined clear terms for our relationship, am the only kid who has continued to listen respectfully to them well into adulthood and sought their advice–my brother and sister, who don’t think the abuse “was a big deal” both moved out ASAP with completely incompatible partners just to get the hell away–one has suffered through the heartbreak of an abusive relationship that blew up into something ugly and is only now, years later, regaining some stability in life, and the other is on the exact same track, in an abusive relationship that will explode no less horribly and possibly leave even bigger scars (there’s a kid involved).   “Not a big deal” and “I turned out fine” my ass.  I, on the other hand, have two degrees and was not too proud to live at home when I had to, and when I leave it will  not be with an inc0mpatible and abusive partner in a desperate act to escape parents I hate for reasons I don’t allow myself to understand.  Interestingly, it is the child who called them abusers, hit them back at some point, and made a stand against them who they are proudest of right now, not the kids who to this day accept the abuse as “their due”.  Go figure.

  • Demonhype

    Thank you for the excellent argument, one I will use in the future.  (Well, a version of it, since I’m not personally a 9-11 survivor :D)  Even if someone survived a violent experience and “turned out fine” it doesn’t make it magically moral or okay to do again, either to that person or to other people.

  • Yeah, after leaving an abusive relationship, I convinced myself that I was “fine”.

    I wasn’t — and still am not — “okay”. I get to carry my horror, my scars (physical and mental), daily reminders of what I’ve been through.

    I can’t imagine STRIKING a small child! It’s just… nobody should be assaulted for “being naughty” or “doing it wrong” or disobeying or, you know, just doing the normal oppositional shit kids do. Nobody. Regardless of age. Regardless of what they did or said to “deserve” it. All it will do is make you feel about two inches tall, and it will make you FEAR the person who hit you.

  • Demonhype

     Masochist.  The term for someone who enjoys pain is masochist.  A sadist would be the spanker.

  • Demonhype

    What gives?  They are invested in their behavior and want to justify it in some way.  Observe all the “well, I didn’t leave a mark/kill my kid/engage in [other abusive behavior], therefore I’m not sorry and I was totally right” arguments being put forth.

    Thank you for that “unimaginative and lazy”.  I used something similar on my folks in a similar argument.  Having kids involves a lot of effort if you want to do it right, and there are viable alternatives if you aren’t unimaginative and lazy–or if you aren’t invested on either your own behalf or your parents’ behalf.

  • Demonhype

    First of all:  No, it doesn’t.  At best it results in a quick, temporary triumph for the parent–and that’s at the absolute best.  And there are effective non-violent methods as well.

    Also, if pain is so effectual to control behavior, why don’t we reintroduce it into the legal system for adults?  Imagine how much reckless behavior could be controlled if the punishment for, say, speeding was to drop your pants, bend over the car, and get a whipping from the cop?  Or perhaps in the courtroom, after your ticket-appeal fails?  I suspect that many half-baked excuses will be advanced by the “pain is totally good and right to inflict on others and it works” crowd would be fighting it tooth and nail, though the only difference between the two is that one could happen to them and the other only happens to defenseless children who have little to no recourse against it.  Typical “it’s only just when it happens to someone else” arguments and nothing more.

    Seriously, if it works so well then let’s extend it to everyone and start improving society.  Why limit it to children?  There’s a lot more damage an adult can do with their reckless behavior (much less deliberately malicious behavior) than a child can ever accomplish, yet physical abuse and violence are only sanctioned for the latter for some twisted reason.

  • Demonhype

    Exactly.  Most people saying “well, how do I deal with [insert situation here], huh, bigshot?” are people who immediately resort to spanking and have never even considered maybe looking into something else–and making a genuine go of it.  (Something tells me that if they tried, they’d only make a half-assed go of it because their real motivation would be to “disprove” the anti-spankers, not to genuinely explore non-violent methods, kind of like how prison rehab often fails because those who oppose it refuse to fund or equip it to an effectual level, so they can “disprove” the evidenced claims of all those “bleeding hearts”)

    Why the hell are you asking me?  You’re supposed to be a good and responsible parent, so shouldn’t you have been doing this already in the same way you might look into getting just the right diapers or baby food or decide whether to breast- or bottle-feed?  You probably put more consideration and exploration into that sort of thing than you do into whether or not it’s really necessary to use violence as a disciplinary method.

  • Vince Winkler

    You make a good argument, but I believe the problems with allowing anecdotes (which by virtue are not representative of the whole) is you can have anecdotes both ways. One person’s anecdote may apply to another person, but in some cases it will not.

    My various statistics professors over the years have harped on this. Sorry that it’s technically not related to the discussion. :

  • Demonhype

    Only problem is that people who spank don’t differentiate.  They assume it’s a one-size-fits-all solution.  And how do you explain to one kid why he gets physically assaulted as punishment but his sister/brother doesn’t?  How do you avoid the extra resentment that will engender in the spanked kids?  That was my mom’s reasoning for hitting me even though it did not work–she had to treat all her kids “equally” (though she was infinitely more lenient with my sister, who was slow in school and had her empathy while I was smart and on medication that made me crazy, so she had little to no sympathy for me despite knowing full well that violence would do little to control drug-induced behaviors) and she was devoted to the idea that spanking “worked” and was “good” (though she had never been spanked herself and had been abandoned to a relative’s house who never really cared about her, so she developed some romanticized ideas that abusive punishment was a form of “caring”, ideas that were not only not based in reality but not even based on her own experiences).

    There are non-violent methods that work, and it is easier to explain to a kid why he doesn’t get dessert or gets a time out while his sister has her video games or computer taken away than why mommy sends X loses computer privileges while Y gets physical pain and humiliation applied to him.  Physical punishment is a whole different ball game, and applying it to one child and not the other is going to create even more resentment than many spanked children already feel.

  • Demonhype

    I think what Mishi is saying is that what a parent should be doing is guiding their child and giving them the tools to become successful and well-adjusted adults, and unfortunately more parents (especially the pro-spankers, like my parents) see kids as something they need to “break” “control” or otherwise force into a mold of the parent’s making.  A parent’s relationship to a child is a custodial relationship, not an ownership or master/slave relationship.

  • Demonhype

    Just because some corporations see workers as livestock and seek to control them even in their private homes is not an argument in favor of parents owning their children as items.  That is like when I complained at one job that my former boss wouldn’t let me have my legally-required breaks and that’s why I left, and my co-workers said “that’s totally legal, my husband’s employer works him twelve hours without a break or lunch”.  Well, that just means your husband’s employer is at least twice as crooked and criminal as my former employer.  It is not evidence that working your employees as literal slaves is somehow okay or legal.

    And fear is not the only way power has been or is achieved.  Poor leadership thrives on fear but doesn’t last long–it always fails because it always reaches the point of abuse where people fight back or else the leaders become so corrupt and arrogant the system implodes from the inside.  Successful power is achieved through merit,mutual respect, and empathy to others (especially those “under” you).

  • Demonhype

    Your sister sounds like me on that.  My brother and sister both “admit” they “deserved” to be abused by my parents and were always meekly submissive on that–and both of them simply avoid my parents’ advice and company and got involved with even more abusive people in order to hasten their departure from home.  My sister, upon the inevitable explosion, has begun to grow a backbone, but my brother–well, he’s only started on that path so far.  Hopefully he’ll have an epiphany too.

    I took a few swings at my parents when I got strong enough,  got in a couple fistfights, showed I wasn’t afraid to fight dirty (as in “if you think it’s okay to abuse me as punishment, then I’m giving myself permission to do whatever it takes to stop you”), and I’m the only one who has a really decent relationship with them now, despite the fact that I’m the only one who physically fought them back and has called them abusive to their face.

    I’m also the only one who can stand up to them.  They whine and complain that if they talk to my parents they get an overbearing attitude, as if they’re still children.  I told them to strike back–if mom or dad is being patronizing or overbearing or commanding, just remind them firmly that you are an adult and that they have no power over you.  For example, when I was about nineteen and looking into school, my dad was incensed at the idea that I might have to have a male roommate and started getting the overbearing “I own your ass” attitude on me.  I told him point-blank that I am a legal adult and if I want to move in with seven other men and put on a pornographic rendition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs every single night, I will and he has no power to stop me.  (I think I used the F word in there a few times too, which shocked him at the time).  He got really quiet, then he began to talk to me like a human being.  “You know, honey, I realize you’re an adult but I just want you to know I don’t think having a male roommate is a wise idea….”

    My brother and sister, who meekly admit that the physical abuse they suffered was deserved and okay, can’t seem to do that simple thing.  They just skulk about and try to avoid talking to my parents instead.

  • Demonhype

    There’s no way to get through to the self-righteous pro-spankers.  They want to believe violence is good because they have utilized violence and they need to justify it any way they can.

  • Demonhype

    Isn’t it amazing how many kids turn out so well when they are not spanked?  It’s like spanking isn’t as necessary as the pro-spankers want to believe!  Whenever there is a kid out-of-line who is not spanked it is usually because they are completely neglected and not because they are not spanked.  Go figure.

    Bullshit on this “fine line between spanking and abuse”.  What I had many would consider to be the former and not the latter, but it fucked me up for life, put my sibs into abusive relationships and made them incapable of interacting with my parents as adults.  The only reason I can interact with them as an adult is because I took a swing at them when I was a teenager and forcibly changed the dynamics of our relationship, or else I might be in the same boat.

    Well, I’m sure some would say I suffered “abuse” and not “spanking”  because of how I and my sibs turned out, but my parents would argue with you on that.  They firmly believe they were just and fair and did the right thing, even when it is shown to them that they did not.  They are invested in the behavior and must defend it at all cost.  But isn’t it interesting how nebulous that line is–that it’s “abuse” when you end up with problems and disrespect for your parents, and “spanking” if you don’t have any [particularly obvious] negative effects?

    Good for you, not hitting your kids.  Some people are more intent on proving how “just fine” they are by perpetuating the cycle of violence.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I have the same issue with anecdotal evidence, this one subject where “anecdotes” is that can realistically be offered.

    In the absence of a definitive answer I can only switch the safety on and recognize hindsight as the only tool able to distinguish between discipline and abuse. Rather than learn that lesson, I chose the alternative.

  • Demonhype

    Rationalizations!  Just the word I’ve needed!  That’s really all they are, aren’t they?

    Seriously, the answer to all those questions is “whatever I do to my kids is “spanking” and not “abuse””.  If the speaker hits small children, it is spanking.  If the speaker hits only older children, then hitting smaller children is abuse.  If I beat my kids like an old rug with a belt, then that is spanking.  If I only use the open hand, then belts are abusive.  Whatever I happen to engage in is within the realm of acceptability–which is the same thing we hear from those parents who engage in the really severe shit.  I’d say the less-severe abusers are providing social cover for the more serious abusers and it would be more responsible to avoid this mess all together by only using non-violent methods, but that’s just me being irrationally over-cautious with the well-being of children.

    No matter the whining below, I’d say that deleting high-scores is probably better than hitting.  Why?  Well, in the real world corporal punishment is not a part of our legal system (we reserve that kind of pain and humiliation for children), but if you do something particularly dishonest or wrong you may have most of or even all the hard work you’ve put into life erased, and then you will have to start from scratch.  That’s the kind of consequence that has a direct metaphor for what he/she will find in the real world, whereas “present your ass” is not precisely a common penalty for, say, driving drunk whereas the total fucking-up of your life and the need to prove yourself all over again is a consequence.  If you do something that is too seriously wrong, you won’t just be re-playing your games to get your high-scores back, you will be trying to pull together the pieces of your real life.  This could be very effective if you explain it right.

    As for “but that might be more upsetting!”  I call bullshit.  Post-modernist bullshit at that, trying to get meta-philosophical and muddy the waters to cover their asses.  There is no way that what amounts in every other case to physical assault is less “harming” than having to re-earn his high-scores.  Any kind of discipline would be upsetting, which is kind of the point, but there is clear evidence that physical pain and humiliation has clear negative effects on development, and that there are more effective methods that are non-violent.   Maybe when PTSD starts emerging from the horrors of not being able to play video games as punishment or having to re-earn their scores as punishment, to the level that assault does, then there will be a point.  Or when erasing high-scores becomes a cover for more severe methods that result in dead children.  Until then, that’s as assholistic as when my mother said “oh, but when that kid was told “no” he started crying, he’s upset, isn’t that every bit as abusive as pulling down his pants and repeatedly smacking his ass?”  No.  No it is not.  And you know that, you’re just trying to play games because you are losing this battle.

  • Demonhype

    They absolutely should have to justify themselves, because the nebulous nature of  “what is spanking as opposed to abuse” is giving cover to the kind of people who have killed children with corporal punishment and they have no recourse should the punishment intensify past so-called “just spanking” into full-fledged “abuse”.   I guarantee that every single person beating their kids harder and harder with rubber hose, even the ones who eventually kill them, believes they are “just spanking” “doing what’s necessary” and are totally “not abusive”–and should I or anyone else just take their word for it just because they said so and wait for the evidence of a scarred or dead child  before I question the action?

    If you use any kind of physical violence on a child you should justify yourself because not requiring that justification is how many children end up suffering of what you like to call “not spanking but abuse” and end up dead.   People who believe in “spanking, not abuse” should understand that they are engaging in a  behavior that some–perhaps many–take to what they would consider unwarranted extremes and if asking for justification is off-limits, then the “abusers” have a lot more cover to do continue with their behavior.  If the price of depriving the really severe ones of their cover is making those who engage in the less-severe version feel uncomfortable, then so be it.

  • Demonhype

    Exactly.  It’s like William Lane Craig saying that genocide is okay if it’s for Jesus and that animals don’t feel “real” pain, but you are out of line to not read the entirety of his works and just judge him on those two little unconscionable quotes.  Would it be suggested that I read him in his entirety to judge him “fairly” if those quotes claimed the inferiority of blacks or sought to justify the Holocaust as good?  No?  Is there any level of vileness that doesn’t warrant subjecting oneself to the entire works before rejecting them as disgusting people?

    I’m sorry, but they promote that children be essentially tortured for wetting the bed, which is always either an emotional or physiological problem out of the control of the child.  That’s all I need to know, and they deserve about as much “fairness” as someone who would say that the Holocaust was a just and warranted or that black people are inherently inferior.

  • —Only problem is that people who spank don’t differentiate. —

    Cupcake, you’ve just demonstrated you either haven’t read or are incapable of understanding anything that’s been said in this thread. 

    I’m sorry you weren’t your mommy’s favorite.  Just because your mother was crap doesn’t mean the parenting methods others use don’t work.  If you can’t cope with your childhood, seek professional help.

  • Sweetheart, you and your ilk are proving to be just as good as folks like the Hovinds when it comes to demonstrating your side is full of shit.

  • At this point, all I need to do is point to this thread.  Look at the kind of folks who claim spanking is bad.  You have morons who can’t tell the difference between a tap and a slap, folks claiming that spanking absolutely never works, folks claiming that spanking a kid will turn the kid violent, etc…

    Do I also need to provide a study for why the ‘crocoduck’ defense is bullshit?  Wake up.  Enter the real world.  Look around for 30 seconds.  Do you really, really, really think any of what they are claiming is accurate? Do you honestly think any ‘study’ they reference for these claims can possibly be accurate?


    Have you actually read any of these studies?

    For my evidence, I submit the same studies the anti-spankers have submitted.  Examine how they were conducted.  Seriously, take a good, long, critical look at them and what they claim.

    They are conducted in pretty much the exact same ways as the studies showing that ‘single parents make lousy families’ and ‘gay couples shouldn’t adopt’ and all the rest of the bullshit.  For many of the same, exact reasons.

    —Had I actually stolen the money, you would still be calling it “discipline”—

    Bullshit, and proof that you have neither read nor comprehended anything I’ve stated throughout this thread.

  • hysteria
    [hi-ster-ee-uh, -steer-]   

    hys·te·ri·a   [hi-ster-ee-uh, -steer-] Show IPA
    noun 1.an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.

  • Some of us just don’t like the idea of hitting a child, regardless of the intent and the amount of force applied.

    I refuse to resort to violence.

  • Anonymous

    I think there’s another wrinkle to it as well–they also want to believe violence is good because they *received* violence as kids and don’t want to admit that they suffered needlessly, don’t want to admit that their feelings of resentment and indignation that they’ve “outgrown” were in fact justified, they don’t want to take responsibility for addressing the implications to their relationships with those who spanked them, and they don’t want to see any way they may have been harmed/threatened/insulted by spanking because that would make them “weak.”

    Also…they were spanked when they were little, and now it’s their TURN, dammit!!

  • Demonhype

    Abusers always think it’s about a loving relationship.  These are people who believe they have a loving relationship with an invisible daddy who will burn them for all eternity in fiery torment if they do anything to piss him off in any way no matter how small, for crying out loud!  And they still think that’s a loving relationship!  How can anyone who has that as a model of a “loving relationship” be trusted to know what constitutes abuse?  For them, any abuse one could absorb in the real world is nothing compared to the abuse  being threatened by the Ultimate Loving Father!

    And their advice for a “loving relationship” keeps getting linked rather damningly to cases of essentially child-torture and manslaughter with alarming regularity, or so it seems, so I doubt the “oh, it’s just being misinterpreted”.  Just like when a lot of Bible-believin’ kids drag some gay kid behind their car, you shouldn’t blame the holy book that directly calls for  the execution of all gay people–it’s not to blame, it’s just misinterpreted.  Right…

    Claiming that it’s just  about loving relationships is spurious.  “Beat your children until they are broken!  It may seem cruel, but it’s better than what Our Loving Father in Heaven has in store for them if you don’t!” is abusive no matter how much you bury it in flowery language about love and caring  and yadda yadda.  I’ve heard the same justifications given for the Inquisition.  “But it was really about love, you see, they loved those people so much that they tortured them to bring them back to The Way of God, tough love to try and save them from the eternal torment of Hell–and in the end they had to protect the other beloved people from the condemned’s evil god-denying ways!”  No matter how much you try to couch abuse in “nice” language about love, it’s still abuse and not about love.

    And that is all I need to know.  When someone’s work says to torture children for a physiological or emotional problem they have no control over, I refuse to subject myself to their vileness in some misguided attempt at “being fair”.  Just as I would reject someone who thinks genocide is okay for the “right” god, that blacks are inherently inferior, or that the Holocaust either didn’t happen or was a good and justified historical event that has gotten unwarranted bad press without reading the rest of their works to be “fair”.

    For the record, I wet the bed as a child.  It was a physiological problem I had no control over.  I was incredibly, unbelievably, extremely fortunate that my mother actually discussed the problem with a doctor and found that out or else I would have been subjected to physical punishment for that too, as she was an enthusiastic supporter of corporal punishment (for children, criminals, and everyone except herself) and would not have held back if she thought for a second that it was in my power to control it.  To say I should read the entirety of a book that states I should have been beaten naked with a hose–or at all–for a medical problem before casting any “unfair”  judgment is really insulting.  Why not tell a rape victim that she should read the entirety of a book that has quotes stating that “all rape victims are sluts who brought it on themselves and need to shut up” or that “rape isn’t really a problem and all the bitches is lyin'” before she makes any “unfair” judgments of the book or author.

  • Demonhype

    This makes more sense.  To know what some evil people are teaching people and just what it is that is inspiring so many  to engage in child-torture along with mind-fuckery for added atrocity.

    Still don’t think I could get all the way through it though.  If I tried, I might end up hurting someone.  Kudos to those who can wade through that vileness for the good fight though.

  • Anonymous

    I was spanked as a child. It probably wasn’t the best form of punishment.
    At the same time, though, my father didn’t really do it out of anger, it was more of a “if I do this, then I get a spanking.” My dad was my best friend, and before and after the spanking he wasn’t fueled by anger, it was my punishment for doing something bad, and I understood that. I grew up a very straight edged, creative, social child, finished college, and work abroad and enjoy a great relationship with my father.

    Spanking is probably a relic of a past generation, and I’m sure it’ll decrease. I doubt I’ll spank my child and at the same time, I don’t hold any resentment toward my father at all. Also, though, I grew up in a Christian household, and the “love with a rod and staff” line got pretty old. I’ve since become atheist, and my parents have been just as supportive, loving, and open minded as ever. My father came from an abusive household, and I respect him for becoming such an amazing dad, he was probably the best example of a father I’ve ever seen.

  • Zachary Aletheia

    so you are saying this http://goo.gl/pvIqu is the equivalent of the evidence for gay couples adopting? A review of 88 studies in a mainstream journal???? vs basically one crackpot putting out “studies”? or vs a moron who doesn’t understand a damn thing about evolution vs someone who studies children at yale university? 

  • Zachary Aletheia

    We can get self report data from parents about whether their children where spanked and see the outcomes. We can look at basic science in psychology to see how well postive punishment (what spanking is called) works in the lab. Anecdotes are NOT the only way we can go about studying these things.

  • Demonhype

    BTW, the majority the bratty entitled kids I’ve seen have been completely neglected–that lack of any boundaries or authority is not a excuse that spanking is somehow okay.  I’ve seen plenty of bratty entitled kids who do get spanked too, so it’s not like all bratty entitled kids could be cured by a good beating.

    My mom used to bitch about my BF’s little brother being bratty and entitled and immediately claimed he needed ” a good spanking”.  I told her off, asking her why  the first thing she resorts to is violence when it’s obvious that his mother doesn’t even try to control him.  “Honey, no…hon, no, don’t do that…. *sigh* okay” in a whisper.  One time she did this while he was eating a fudgesicle over her couch pillows.  She muttered this once, then wilted as he ignored her.  I had seen this a lot, so I called him by name and when he looked up I asked “your mom was just talking to you, didn’t you hear her?”  He shook his head, and I told him what she said, and he just put the pillow aside casually.

    Yes, I realize I had some “company” power there, but the few times she has ever lost her temper and yelled at that kid, he’d get quiet and do what she asked, even if he sulked.  She’d probably get a lot further if she just took a firm and authoritative stance to begin with, and there’d be more learning and genuine respect and less sulking as well.  A lot of authority is in one’s demeanor, not in the instrument of torture clenched in one’s fist, and that goes double for kids.  If I respect my mom today, it is in spite of rather than because of her spanking me, because I have called her out on what I consider abuse, but made it clear that my current respect is based on her other, better, qualities–the ones that deserve and have earned respect–and I have made this clear to her.

  • Zachary Aletheia

    Agreed further you do not teach the child appropiate behaviors to do which is one of the many reasons why reinforcements in general work better then punishments in general (i am using these terms in a technical way reinforcment means ” reinforcement is any stimulus that strengthens the operant response it follows” and punishment means “a stimulus that weakens the operant response it follows”

  • Zachary Aletheia

    But that is exactly why anecdotes are worthless because of the amount of bias that we come to our experiences with.

  • Zachary Aletheia

    I still having seen any evidence provided that A) spanking has more pros then cons without using anecdotes and B) how this clearly is not an example of status quo bias.  

  • TiltedHorizon

    Provide the “evidence which cannot be called anecdotal, self-reporting, and naturally biased” and you “Win”.

    That is all I asked for, in return you offer nothing but the same anecdotal, self-reporting, and naturally biased arguments which you openly dismiss as “lies”.

    I asked for the “Copious amounts of evidence to the contrary” and you offer nothing but generalized answers devoid of detail, plus a few insults in an attempt to distract me from your inability or unwillingness to explain yourself.

    You have failed to live up to your own standards, the only thing you have managed to evidence is your inability to control your anger and frustration. Based on this willingness to be discourteous when the situation does not require it, how do you expect anyone to believe you posses the temperance needed to not cross the borders of “tap” into “slap”.

  • Demonhype

    Bull.  Shit.

    First of all, it is not confinement, any more than pushing another adult out of the way of a speeding car is confinement.  It is immediate action to protect against a clear and present danger.  There is no clear and present danger that requires someone have pain and humiliation inflicted upon them.

    Second of all, it is not just degrees but whole continents away from “pull down your pants and present your ass” followed by repeated blows.

    In the past, it was “spanking is the only way to set boundaries”  Now we know of non-violent methods that are effective, so now the pro-spankers have fallen back on false equivalencies along the lines of “all methods of setting boundaries are completely equally abusive (somehow), so therefore reddening my kids bare ass is totally okay and no different than putting him in time out”.    And now the even more disingenuous “pulling a kid out of the path of a car is exactly as bad as beating a kid, because it’s exactly the same as putting them in a federal prison somehow, shut up that’s why”.  A false equivalency along the lines of “setting boundaries at all is as bad as using physical violence as a method to enforce boundaries”  How the hell do you end up comparing “setting boundaries” with a particular method to enforce boundaries?  That is the weirdest flail I’ve seen yet.

    I hope someone remembers that if you’re ever in the path of an oncoming vehicle–can’t pull you out of the way because it would be setting a boundary, which is in effect enforced confinement, which is as bad as beating you with a cane.  Best leave you to your own devices.  Or beat you with a cane, I guess.  One or the other.

  • Rich Wilson

    And of course, nobody likes to be wrong.

  • Demonhype

    I love you!

  • Demonhype

    Thank you!  As much as people want to believe it works, I’ve noticed that any pro-spanking sources seem to be coming from a position of biblical authority–but mostly personal anecdote about how “I don’t really hurt my kid, what I do isn’t abusive, so shut up”.  Besides, needing proof that it doesn’t work is the wrong direction for burden of proof.  The default is that you don’t physically assault a child until good evidence emerges that it “works”.  And I’m sorry, but “I got spanked and I turned out fine” is not evidence.

  • Demonhype

    My father almost lost his nuts.  I’ll never forget the look of shock on his face when he realized I’d brought up my knee like that against him, that I’d fight that dirty.  But he never tried to hit me again after that, and we had a much better relationship.  If they’d both understood that my desire for their love, pride, and respect was enough, it could have saved us all a lot of problems.

  • Muhh..

    I was spanked as a kid. It didn’t completely wreck me or anything, but I am resentful. I didn’t learn any lesson other than ‘don’t do this, or you’ll be hit’. I didn’t know why my actions were bad or deserved punishment, just that I shouldn’t do it or I’d be hit. If anything though, it made me a great liar; after a while I was able to talk my way out of any situation to avoid being hit. 

    I have a friend that’s a hardcore Christian who was beat as a kid. Spankings as well as actual beatings, for any sort of wrong doing, even not so wrong doings (apparently he even got beat because he had diarrhea once). The result, he was brainwashed into thinking this was great, he’s thankful for his beatings and truly believes a kid can’t grow up right without being beaten. The worst part? He wants to have kids someday and plans to treat them like this. It makes me sad kids have to grow up like this in this day and age.

    More of an extreme case, bit still. It truly is the lazy way out or just plain aggression, there’s so many ways to punish a child without resorting to violence. Take away a favorite toy, TV time, playtime with friends, time outs, etc etc…

    Much as I love ’em I probably won’t have kids of my own, but if I did, I would never harm them in anyway.

  • Demonhype

    That alone defeats the pro-spankers.  Just like with the death penalty.  Neither one invariably leads to more violent people, but it has been proven that neither one leads to a safer or more law-abiding society either–and that other methods are clearly getting better results than brute force and violence.  So why bother with a violent method that seems to “work” when other societies are using non-violent methods that work much better?  Unless, perhaps, you are invested in the culture of violence and feel a need to justify yourself.

  • Demonhype

    Possibly.  As soon as those invested in the practice have died out, since younger generations are using the more effectual and non-violent methods.  But investment can be a hard thing to argue with–it’s one hell of a cognitive-dissonance generator.

  • TiltedHorizon

    “We can get self report data from parents about whether their children where spanked and see the outcomes.”

    So people can tally parents to see if “positive” punishment was employed and see the outcome? Here is the problem, it still meets the definition of “anecdotal evidence”. Which is: “based on or consisting of reports or observations of usually unscientific observers” Who ever is collecting this information has to do so using second hand observations owned by unscientific observers.

    “We can look at basic science in psychology to see how well postive punishment works in the lab.”

    In the lab? This will need some explaining as I am left with the image of scientists spanking chimpanzees then trying to apply the result to what is still essentially anecdotal evidence.

    (note, I originally used ‘Monkeys’ in this last argument, had to change it since “spanking the monkey” is completely unrelated.)

  • Anonymous

    I don’t hit adults when they don’t do what I want.  Why would I hit my children?  I actually like my children which is more than I can say for a lot of adults I know.

  • Gribblor

    Into the lions den. I was spanked as a kid but i turned out fine.

    There, i said it.

    Now to clarify.

    I was slapped on the bum or hand when i was a kid when i really misbehaved. My parents were always very careful about this, i cannot ever remember my parents doing it emotionally (they might have felt emotional, but they never did it so that i perceived anger). It was always fair, they always told me exactly what caused the slap. It was only ever a single slap, never a beating. It was never hard enough to injure, only to sting. It was so infrequent that it meant a big deal to me. I knew if i got a slap that i’d been really naughty. Eventually it got to the point that knowing i’d disappointed my parents meant more to me than the slap itself, which was right around the time my folks stopped doing it.

    I do not consider what my parents did to be abusive in any sense. It was measured, controlled and effective.

    If i ever had kids, i don’t think i’d use the same slapping technique but i wouldn’t knock parents that did. I just think there are better methods commonly used now (my sister has great results with the dreaded naughty step) that i would prefer.

    What really angers me though is when you see parents hitting their kids because the parent is angry and the kid is just being a kid. That bothers me greatly. I’d get a slap for hurting my little sister deliberately not for being bratty. When a parent loses their own control, then they lose control of their kids. And if they use slapping or spanking for discipline this can easily go bad. As a child it was always so clear to me that i got a slap because of what I did, never because of how my parents felt. If a parent is screaming and shouting and hitting their kid, how on earth is the child supposed to know what on earth is going on?

    I’ve seen and read a lot about the christian patriarchy movements views on spanking and frankly i don’t see how it can be considered anything other than abuse. The moment you take a belt or a switch to a child you immediately cross into abuse as far as i can see. The sheer extent of the violence they use is staggering. You here of kids not being able to sit, of the skin being broken. Kids should not fear their parents.

    Oh, and my folks, the ones who delivered the occasional slap, I get on great with them. They provided me with 18 years of nuturing and caring and when i moved awya to university, it was only then, seeing how others interacted with their parents that i really realised how close me and my parents were. I don’t just love my parents, i like them too.

  • Mark Browne

    Hitting your child most definitely can stop or correct poor behaviour.  The question is whether there are better ways, but an incorrect statement like that does not further the position much, and is more likely to make people ignore your post, rather than reading it for its content.

  • Tim

    On the rare occassions when I smacked by son, it didn’t work. 

  • Donalbain

    Yes. If you hit an adult against their will, you have assaulted them.

  • I agree with you, my son is 3, and although I am not proud of it we have spanked him, though it was after he was destructive and was not calming down. It was the new stimulation he needed to pause and take a breath, then we explained what was wrong with his behavior and why we did that.

    We are taking a parenting class right now, Love and Logic, so we are getting new tools to use with him, which means we can put aside spanking. I do think that as they get older it is easier to reason with the child and use more words then punishments and time outs.

  • bright

    In the interest of adding evidence, both of my siblings had some experience with corporal punishment. However, it was for the most part for things that they could not understand were wrong at the time. (the one exception was swearing, which got a mouth washing with soap. I am informed it’s disgusting) but spanking was occasionally used. My father’s policy, and my grandparents for that matter, was mostly that if it was dangerous to their well being, then it deserved spanking. which consisted of one or two hits. For instance, one of the rare times my father got spanked was when he walked out into traffic. As a child gets older, all the arguments for it go away, as reason and other methods of dissuasion can work, and many other methods work for non-dangerous pursuits. The stance of my parents, which i agree with, is that spanking, especially if it is rare, is effective to dissuade young children from behaviors which are extremely dangerous, i.e. wandering into traffic. 
    for what else it’s worth, my siblings, though they don’t always agree with my parents, still have a great relationship with both of my parents. 

  • Cetric Vazquez

    I didn’t like getting spanked when I was a kid, but it did work to teach me what behavior was unacceptable.  I learned what not do to – a good thing to know that some people still need to learn themselves.  Is it right to spank?  Is it wrong?  My opinion is that it is an option but should be one among several discipline options, which allows a parent the chance to tailor the disciplinary response to the behavior in need of reinforcement, whether positive or negative.

  • Then you give the kid something that is safe for him to take apart and put back together. That is howyou redirect.Your child is smart enough to get the plugcovers out?You give him something that is safe to takeapart that has a similar interest.Then, you explain whyyou don’t playwithoutlets. 

    You say he’s smart and stubborn? I’ve got three of those. I have one that doesn’t know the meaning of redirect,evenat the age of 10. But, you know what? We still figure out howto teach him w/o the need for spanking.

  • Violence teaches violence. Love teaches love. Hitting defenseless children is immoral and unethical. Restraint does not equal hitting. Hitting children is a sign of a lack of self control or sociopathic behavior, nothing more. 

  • All of the arguments here for the use of corporal punishment miss the central point. It is immoral and unethical to hit a defenseless child. To restrain a child from doing harm to him/her self does not require the insertion of violence. I have said this before but it bears repeating: violence teaches violence, love and respect teaches love and respect. there can be no other way if our species it to evolve and not self destruct.

  • It is immoral and unethical to hit a defenseless child. End of story. No wiggle room.

  • So you are both bullies, but in different ways then.

  • You are such an ass.

  • Because you made a mistake, you were punished with violence. You put yourself in danger and they hit you? Were you ignorant and unable to understand reason when this happened. Did your parents believe that they could not talk to you about such an important concept and were unable to demonstrate their point to you. Or were they just reacting with out thinking. 

  • Samantha Grover

    I have twins.  I never spanked my daughter when she was very young.  My son was spanked, maybe 5 times.   I, thankfully, never said ‘we don’t hit’ while spanking them.  My son’s spankings all came after he ‘Stitch-butted’ me.  If you  are lucky enough to have not seen it, Lilo and Stitch was a Disney movie.  In part of the movie Stitch is escaping from someone and waves his butt at them (I hate this movie, that scene was so obnoxious).  My son would wave his butt at me.  I would say ‘one more butt wave and I’ll spank your butt’.   I certainly never hit hard, and yes, he stopped waving his butt at me. 

    Am I happy I did it, no.  If he waved his butt like that at me today (he’s 16), would I smack it again, I don’t really know, it is a truly disrespectful and obnoxious action.  Maybe I’d take his car away. 

    To my shame, I have now struck my daughter.  I was helping her with some math and she was not getting it at all.  I was frustrated and going for a playful ‘Think, McFly, Think” moment but I was too forceful.  We were both shocked and we both cried.  I also apologized at the time (and a few times since).  She was 15.   I’m sure I’ll hear about it forever.   Even now, I want to rationalize that I didn’t leave a mark, so it wasn’t too bad. 

    So, with my daughter I know I was wrong.  But, with my son, I’m not too upset about the few spankings he received.  


  • Considering this is coming from someone who makes excuses for parents who lock their children in a car so they suffocate in the heat, I have to say, you really aren’t making the anti-spanker side look more rational.

  • Again, you are such an ass.

  • Hell,  I saw my spankings as a reason to be even more defiant.  It didn’t help that we would get spanked for the slightest of outbursts, and I was prone to well … talking. I remember vividly having breakfast with my siblings one morning and the bathroom door creaked open (it was an old, drafty house), and I giggled and said ‘hey, look, the door farted’. I was maybe … 8 or 9? That earned me a spanking in front of my siblings. I remember the absolute look of horror on my little sister’s face. 

    She’s the most ‘normal’ of the 3 of us, but I think that’s because she was able to desensitize herself to it from a far younger age (3 and 4 years younger than my brother and I), and learned how to avoid the behaviours that would get her beaten. To this day, she’s a people pleaser, extremely un-assertive in regards to everything, and panics when I mention the lines I’ll be crossing next with my parents. 

    As I got older, I treated my spankings as badges of defiance – they could never spank the thoughts out of my head, and that was all the fuel I ever needed.  As long as I had my words, I was good. It’s a philosophy I carry with me to this day. 

  • Reductio ad absurdum fail? Both on the analogy and on some responses to it. Not trying to be mean. Just pointing out logical missteps.

  • Anonymous

    I was spanked quite frequently and I never felt I was abused.  My dad did go overboard a few times… when I was quite young, I wandered down the street after being told repeatedly not to.  My dad beat me with a yard stick, breaking it in the process, on the buttocks.  When I was 16, he found I’d lied about where I was going one night and he backhanded me so hard, my glasses flew off across the room.  Those 2 incidents aside (not excused), I was spanked several times.

    As a parent, we spanked a handful of times over the years, but ONLY after multiple attempts to get The Kid to understand an important rule that he repeatedly broke (wandering across the street, for example) or when he was so far into a tantrum, nothing else would get his attention.  Our rule was no more than 2 swats and ONLY on the buttocks over clothing.  He is now 11.  I don’t think we’ve done any spanking since he was around 7 during a massive hour-long temper tantrum.

    I had vowed not to ever spank my children but then every child is different and when words don’t make it through, a swat is sometimes necessary to make the point.  My son has never been physical with us or any other child, so I doubt there is any damage done from our actions. 

  • Gpklemann

    I disagree. Ignorance would mean a lack of knowledge. I think the words you are looking for are, “Not consistent with my opinions or views.” I am aware of the studies that you linked to above which are interesting. They didn’t sway my opinion though. That doesn’t make me ignorant. That just makes me an ass 🙂 One of the many beauties of our country.

    As to the dogs there was a great study that showed the average household dog (including the non-dog chihuahuas) are as intelligent as 2 year old humans and understand on average 212 words. It was impressive and continues to evolve our understanding of intelligence. It turns out the size of the cortex doesn’t matter as much as the folds or sulci. Dolphins have much more complex brains then we do and may even be smarter. They’ve stayed away from the internet. 

    Thanks for the interesting discussion. I’m sure we’ll chat again sometime.

  • dcardona

    Let’s look at some other quotations in the report:

    * Because many parents report using objects during punishment, behaviors that many professionals might consider as clearly abusive are fairly common and included in some definitions of spanking (Gershoff, 2002). Research on hitting (spanking, corporal punishment) varies widely on whether the definition includes practices that frankly are or blend into abuse.

    * A “blanket injunction” against spanking cannot be supported scientifically (Baumrind, 1996).

    * Reanalyses of studies have underscored the importance of how spanking is defined. Several studies in Gershoff’s (META-ANALYSIS) review included rather harsh punishment that would qualify as physical abuse (e.g., slapping in the face, hitting with an object). Reanalyses indicated the outcomes were more negative in those studies than in studies of less severe punishment (Baumrind et al., 2002). Similarly, other reviews have suggested that very mild spanking used as a backup for mild disciplinary effects may not be detrimental and indeed can reduce noncompliance and fighting (Larzelere, 2000).

    * Second, the effects of mild spanking (an oxymoron to some people)
    that is occasional, is a backup to other disciplinary procedures such
    as time out from reinforcement or reasoning, is physically noninjurious,
    involves an open hand to hit the extremities or buttocks, and inflicts
    temporary pain are not so clear (Baumrind et al., 2002). Again, there is no advocacy of corporal punishment in this latter view, but merely an acknowledgment that the research does not speak to the consequence
    of occasional spanking.

    * The effects of very mild, occasional spanking are not well studied
    or sufficiently clear from available studies. In one sense, it may be
    correct to say that current evidence does not establish the deleterious
    or beneficial effects of very mild spanking.

  • Rich Wilson

    including the non-dog chihuahuas

    Wait, what?  I thought we had determined that all domestic dogs came from wolves.  I googled for ‘non-dog chihuahuas’ and only got links that were clearly satire.

    They’ve stayed away from the internet.

    Oh.  Yah.  And sinker.

  • Nena

    You’re right Glenn. I did take it personally, and I shouldn’t have.


  • dcardona

    Most misbehaviors, the not listening, the impulsivity is recurring, you are right. It’s even desirable. But you are incorrect in assuming this is what receives the punishment.  Particular dangerous behaviors that  it is critical to halt sometimes, for some children, require a the decisive short-term consequence of a spank until the child can understand and respond to other methods of discipline including all the other suggestions people have made on this thread.

    Also, I do not, nor would I ever, “insist” that a child be spanked. Just as reproductive pro-choicers do not insist upon abortion, I don’t push spanking as the only, or always best, method. I use it and I share my reasoning openly with my child, people such as yourself, and others who spank (some of whom I vehemently disagree with).

    Spanking – in my opinion and practice – never includes a the element of surprise, a bare ass, weapons, humiliation, pain (as differentiated from discomfort),  or injury. It is also not the only chapter in the book. It is imperative that parents talk about spanking so that it doesn’t become a cover for abuse. Spanking is a method that should diminish on its own and disappear by the end of a child’s 5th year.

    The crux of this debate is whether spanking at this level is equal to “hitting.” I don’t believe it is. Literally defined, violence is not always immoral. We can argue all day about where that line is, but it still exists.

  • Committing an act of aggression towards a defenseless child is wrong. There is a contradiction that is unresolved when someone says otherwise. 

  • The zietgiest is moving away from corporal punishment. As is has with human slavery, the death penalty, and religious belief. There will always be those who pine for the “olden days”. They will be gone soon.

  • Excuse me? I never made excuses for parents who lock their children in the car so they suffocate in the heat. I think you’d have to be a fucking moron to “forget” your kid, and a bloody monster to deliberately do something like that.

    I simply don’t believe in using violence to solve conflicts. How does that make the “anti-spanker” side look “less rational”? There’s no “rational” reason to strike a child, end of.

  • Dan O.

    If you had any idea about the speed at which a 2-year old learns, you would realize how ridiculous it would be to compare the smartest stage of a dog with (nearly) the dumbest stage of a human at a snapshot where (supposedly) they are equal.  

    BTW, I’ve seen dog brains.  Entorhinally impressive.

  • Rich Wilson

    The problem is that although we all assume we’re not fucking morons, fucking morons never know if they’re fucking morons or not.  Rather than discover the hard way that I’m one of the 15-25 fucking morons per year who leave their kids in a car, I figured I’d rather remain blissfully unaware that I’m a fucking moron.  So I developed the habit of checking the car seat every time I got out of the car, even when I knew my son wasn’t with me.  I did feel kind of foolish sometimes, but that’s par for fucking morons.

    (Full disclosure: I didn’t have a car for the first 18 months of my son’s life, so by the time he was spending time in car seats, he was able to remind me that he wanted to get out when I did, but I did still check the known empty car seat anway)

  • It’s the old, “oh, that could never happen to me” thing, yeah?

    I think you’re one of the smart ones, making sure you always check the car seat just in case.

  • That link is broken. And I have NEVER defended a person leaving a child in the car.

    Oh. Wait, no, there was that one time I said it was okay to leave the kid in the car for 30 seconds while you return a shopping cart, but that’s not what you’re accusing me of.

  • Rich Wilson

    No shortage of hyperbole, that’s for sure.

  • It’s ‘broken’ for you because your idiocy got you banned from that website.  http://www.fstdt.com

    “Jul 7, 2009, 3:52pm, dantesvirgil wrote:

    Jul 7, 2009, 3:42pm, wmdkitty wrote:
    @keresm — So just because -you- “could never forget your kid” means that -everybody- is the same as you, and anyone who does happen to forget is “stupid”.


    Real nice.

    I could easily forget a child. Same as I could easily forget to lock the door, to check the mail, to forget a textbook or homework, or even my head (if it wasn’t attached). I’ve forgotten to take important medications, to make important phone calls, even forgotten to -eat-.

    Does that make me “stupid”?

    How about you quit being a douchebag about it, and admit that it is possible to simply forget a sleeping child.

    No offense, kitty, but you’re not a parent and you haven’t been in that situation, no? It’s easy to imagine if you don’t have anything to base it off of. But feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. I still posit that if you have all the physical reminders of pregnancy — which continue after you’ve actually given birth, sometimes for weeks and months — it’s damned difficult to forget about a kid, in a hot car, no less, that you have personally packed in with all its required things.-

    All I’m saying, is that it’s easy to get distracted and forget a quietly sleeping child, especially if it’s early in the morning, you have to drop the kid off at day care, and you’re not the one who usually does that. Can’t you see where a tired parent could fall back on routine, and completely forget that the kid is in the car?

    I may not be a parent, but I think that’s giving me a clearer perspective on this, because I’m not thinking, “I could never do that, so someone who does that is obviously stupid.” (to paraphrase keresm’s posts.) I can see where it -is- possible. “

  • Ah, that. Well, the point I’m making is that the caring, conscientious parent (i.e. the one who ISN’T ME) will take the time and make the effort to check and be sure the kid isn’t in the car. Duh. As for me, hey, as someone who could forget a kid, I know myself well enough to know that I am not parent material. Trust me, I don’t WANT to be responsible for a kid, and plan on begging my doctor to tie my tubes as soon as possible. Babies scare me. DO NOT WANT.

    And I wasn’t banned for “idiocy” — I was banned because of perceived (and unproven) ad hominems. You know, those same things they let others use against me without taking any action until I defended myself.

    Incidentally, it’s hard to “stop being a bitch” when nobody will tell you what you’re doing that’s “bitchy” and needs correction.

  • Mr Z

    There are definitely a lot of thoughts on both sides of this issue. Everyone thinks they are right too… because there is no objective right in the middle area of this discussion. There are only abuses on the fringes. When you physically chastise a dog it is to imbue the understanding that something they did made you angry. They don’t have to understand why, only that it makes YOU angry.  When children are small, and still learning there are forms of physical punishment which fulfill this type of instruction but the association of behavior and displeasure on your part must be clear. Others will argue that by showing happiness when they do it right is the better way. It all depends on the situation. Smacking a child’s hands when they are reaching for a boiling pot on the stove is not unheard of nor is it immoral. It teaches a lesson in a needfully quick manner. There are other situation where a smack on the behind or what have you fulfills this need for quick lessons without time for explanations. It’s always better if you can give them knowledge and understanding but not always possible. Mostly, physical chastisement should not be needed but ruling it out altogether is to rob both you and your children of opportunities to learn… even if that is only in limited circumstances. You don’t want to make a trip to the hospital burn unit… ever. Your child can only be run over by a car once, and so on. 

    The general attitude of spare the rod, spoil the child is not wrong but the rod can be metaphorical most of the time. Generally children seek the approval of their parents and showing that they can’t have it if they do X or Y is generally a good tool for teaching. Xians simply take their holy book too literally most of the time… when it suits their needs.

    As for my experience as a child who was physically punished? I can tell you this, I never questioned a beating if I actually did something wrong and felt guilty. It was the times that I had not done anything wrong and couldn’t understand that made it all troubling. Personally, I preferred a whipping to being shamed. That probably says being shamed is more effective. I don’t beat animals or people, I am not physical. My experiences in a evangelical home with physical punishments have not created a monster of me. I’m quite non-violent actually. 

    I just think it is short sighted to say never… 

  • Rich Wilson

    Just FYI, that link was broken for me too.  And I’ve never been to that site before.  I got some kind of module load error, so it may have been a transient thing.

  • Anonymous

    The examples you give all have non-violent responses or even better can be prevented by simple safety precautions.  You are using expedience as an excuse for violence.  That is not justified.

  • Gpklemann
  • Gpklemann

    Perhaps adults are the dumbest stage of humanity as we think we know it all and seem to stop learning.

  • Nice backtracking.  And I think it should be obvious that I’m on that forum, I know why you were banned, and if you look at the thread, it’s also obvious that several people tried, even nicely, to explain to you what you were doing that was bitchy.

    The point you were making, and that I can quote you making, is that you felt parents who locked their kids in the car to die had done so accidentally and thus shouldn’t be condemned.

    Instead of backtracking, why don’t you trying saying ‘I took some time to actually think about the situation, and realized the people who told me I was stupid were right, and leaving a child in a car to die is a horrendous and unforgivable act that only a shitty parent would do’.

  • Anonymous

    This may be the argument for spanking that drives me the most batty–not because it’s by any means the most outrageous, but because it’s employed so often by well-meaning people WHO REALLY OUGHT TO KNOW BETTER BY NOW.  Well-meaning people are the ones who should be standing up unequivocally AGAINST spanking!

    I’m certainly not saying that getting hit/swatted/whatever when you run out into traffic is going to mess you up for life, but SERIOUSLY–are you at least aware that there are tons of parents who manage to keep their kids out of traffic WITHOUT using spanking?? That there is no epidemic of attachment-parented children getting run over?  That children still ran out into traffic in the first half of the 20th century when everyone spanked?

    If a child is not able to understand the inherent danger of traffic, are they going to make the connection that the spanking means that they shouldn’t do that dangerous thing even when no one is around to spank them (or help them!)??

  • Sim. D.

    My mom/dad only spanked me twice in my entire life – and that was when I was very little and I don’t even remember. But my parents are not the kind to use violence/spanking for discipline. They use very liberal and effective ways to discipline us (my brother and I).

    I have relative(s) who’ve spanked their children, and I’ve witnessed people actually beating their wife. And I am absolutely against it. For the reasons that you stated in this post, I would definitely agree that nothing can be gained from spanking except more fear and resentment.

    One of the other things is that people are not educated about the physical and psychological ramifications of spanking or beating. Getting people aware of it is important (though spanking and beating are not interchangeable).

    Also, (though on a slightly different note), you guys have heard about the 23 year old woman who finally posted a video of when she was beaten for 7 minutes by her father who’s a judge in Texas right?

    Nice post. Peace.

    http://www.squarel@wk633:disqus gic.wordpress.com

  • You’re dragging off-site drama here, and I don’t think that’s appropriate.

    Secondly, you’re reading that all wrong — I don’t “support leaving a child in a car”. You’re deliberately misreading what I said.

    “Oh, wow, I see how that could happen” isn’t the same as, “Oh, yeah, it’s totally okay to do that.”

    Besides, at least I don’t beat three month old babies.

  • Dan O.

    In your case, I think donning the tin-foil hat would actually increase your credibility.  


  • Anonymous

    This post is epic.  Well done!

  • —Besides, at least I don’t beat three month old babies. —

    Neither do I, but it’s interesting that the anti-spanker side is willing to lie and claim I do.  I haven’t seen an iota of honesty from the anti-spanking side in this entire thread.  Plenty of hypocrisy and hysteria though.

    I think you all have discredited the anti-spanking viewpoint quite enough. At this point, I’m starting to wonder if you are all secretly pro-abuse and deliberately trying to make the folks like the Pearls look reasonable.

  • I am anti-abuse, and I am anti-striking-children. I don’t care if it’s “just a tap” — it is a violent act taken against a child. I wouldn’t strike an adult, either. Even with provocation.


    Because I’ve been on the receiving end of violence, and I will not inflict it on others. Full. Stop.

  • TiltedHorizon

    I see WithinThisMind is still with us. Just a reminder, have you found
    that “Copious amounts of evidence to the contrary” yet? While you are
    still coming here proclaiming dishonesty, insulting people and their
    children, I am STILL waiting on the proof which cannot be deemed
    “anecdotal, self-reporting, and naturally biased arguments”.

  • Anonymous


    I haven’t seen an iota of honesty from the anti-spanking side in this entire thread.  Plenty of hypocrisy and hysteria though

    That’s rather a broad brush that you’re applying there.  Care to elaborate?  How are people who don’t use violence (no matter how mild) as discipline being hypocritical, hysterical and dishonest?

  • We’re not — she thinks its okay to strike a three-month-old baby, and wants to justify that, instead of considering that she just might have done something wrong.

  • Dan O.

    To say that a ‘survey’ is collecting anecdotes in numbers is really misleading.  

    The difference is that surveys ask specific questions.  Anecdotes are shared when there is a specific motive to share.   

    You’re encouraging the tin-foil hats.  That’s bad science.

  • Dan O.

    I don’t find that aggressive people tend to be too controlled in their aggression.  See, for example, WithinThisMind.   

  • Dan O.

     So you have a problem with cognitive dissonance?  There’s an awful lot of that, to be sure.

    Anyway, that had to be the most ad hoc list I’ve ever see masquerading as a “specific plan of discipline.”    

  • BornA

    I was spanked as a child. So were my sister and cousins. It was a wakeup call to change behaviour.  Negative punishment for us wasn’t bad, my family is not bad.  Nor was it “bad parenting”
    There is a very large difference between abuse and spanking.  This issue is just like every other. It is a grey area. It is possible to cross the line.
    I was more afraid of my father than my mother. My father has never hit me, and my mother has.  He was loud and she was quiet.  I would run and hide if I heard him coming because I was afraid of the noise. Should we outlaw yelling at our children as well? 

    I love them both. I never once blamed my family for hitting me. I knew what I did was wrong, and if I got a smack on the back of the legs for it I deserved it. Hitting was never done in anger, it was done as a reminder. A very good reminder.

    My experience is evidence that spanking is not going to universally damage a child. My sister’s experience is another example.  The rest of my family are more examples. 

     Just because it causes lasting damage to one person, or even a bunch of people, does not make it wholly bad.  Control the situation for every conceivable factor and then tell me that spanking is universally bad.  Even if there are a handfull of people that have benefited from being spanked then it can not be all bad. It is grey and of course subject to opinion.   If it works for one person, great. If time out works for another person, great.  The definition of abuse does not include spanking, not to me.

  • Rich Wilson

    As I’ve alluded elsewhere on this massive thread, I have some experience with aggression.  It’s not nearly as simple as lack of control.  In fact, my problem was the wrong kind of self control.  I was always told “just don’t hit” or “just keep it in”.  I got very good at ‘keeping it in’, but as with a very long fuse, all I was doing was distancing the real source of my anger from the eventual explosion.  What I needed to do was to identify and deal with my anger earlier rather than later.  Too late, and it WAS beyond my control.

    I liken it to drinking and driving.  Drunk people have very poor decision making skills, and people who would never dream that they’d be the type to drink and drive will end up deciding to drive when they’re drunk.  The decision has to be made before drinking- giving the keys to someone else, or leaving the car at home or whatever.

    One of my advice phrases in volunteer counseling others was:  “the time to  take a time-out before you need to take a time-out”

    (and for the record I don’t drink.  Not because it was ever a problem for me, I just personally think it’s a waste of money, I don’t like it, and I don’t like having my mind fucked up.  To each their own, that’s just me)

  • Anonymous

    “Just because it causes lasting damage to one person, or even a bunch of people, does not make it wholly bad.  Control the situation for every conceivable factor and then tell me that spanking is universally bad.”

    You do realize that exactly the same thing can be said–and has been said–about cigarettes, asbestos, and unsanitary drinking water??

    Not only that, but “lasting damage” is not the only concern–an assault isn’t only defined by “lasting damage,” because human beings deserve to be free of pain and threats to their safety in a given moment as well.  The temporary violation of safety and bodily integrity in spanking as it is done is a sufficient harm and ethical wrongdoing.

    Furthermore, you have not demonstrated any “benefit” from spanking, because you have no way of knowing how you would have turned out had you not been spanked.  Overwhelming evidence from comprehensive studies shows that spanking has no benefit and documented harms.

    The major flaw with your concept of “If it works for one person, great,” is the total lack of consent on the part of the person being hurt/spanked/assaulted.  If that person cannot wholeheartedly consent in sound mind and without coercion (which a child by definition cannot), it is not a grey area.  We in society have an obligation to safeguard the rights of those who cannot defend themselves or give consent.

    Moreover, I notice you have a pathological attachment to spanking and the need to spank children.  Your “I deserved it” attitude is so typical of abuse victims in many areas (domestic, social, political, economic, etc.), and your fear-based relationship with your father is a whole other can of worms (and yes, verbal abuse of children is wrong, too).

    An astute commenter on another site summed up this classic spanking-apologist trope brilliantly: “Then, of course, you’ll hear ‘I was spanked and I turned out fine!’ from someone who very obviously didn’t.”

    No one is saying that spanked children universally go on to be depraved characters or empty shells wholly incapable of functioning in society.  We ARE saying that they overwhelmingly (but not universally) either experience pain, alienation, and resentment themselves, or they become authoritarian, narrow-minded, and deeply invested in a might-makes-right mentality (especially in how they insist that some children need to be spanked, despite all sociological and psychological evidence to the contrary).

  • Dan O.
  • TiltedHorizon

    Careful Dan,

    You are opening yourself up to character assassination, you will likely be called a liar, your intelligence may be put into question, colorful adjectives may be used to describe you or members of your family, if all else fails you may be deemed worthless and justifiably ignored.

    It would seem WithinThisMind only practices self control when disciplining children, the rest of us are screwed.

  • ” Just because it causes lasting damage to one person, or even a bunch of people, does not make it wholly bad.”

    Yeah, just like rape isn’t bad because some people don’t have lasting damage from it…


  • Dsdonat

    Wussification of America right there.  A spank on the butt is assault, come on people!!!  Really!!! 
    An assualt on the butt is not a spanking, that’s hitting.

  • Jewish Atheist

    IMAO the idea of corporal punishment is similar to that of capital punishment.  It seems to be largely for the self-satisfaction of the authority rather than actually discouraging the behavior.

    Disciplining your kid through violence is a largely unintelligent way of problem-solving.  Psychological studies have shown that kids with authoritarian (strict) parenting are often frightened and withdrawn, and that simple punishment often leads to fear of the enforcer rather than acceptance of the fact that one has done something wrong.  Reinforcing good behavior has been shown to work better than punishing bad behavior.  Authoritative (gentle yet firm) parenting has been shown to lead to competent children.  Authoritative parenting includes discipline but also includes explaining reasons behind discipline (I’m sure that the book that those two nuts wrote says that children should have blind acceptance of their parents’ authority).  Using reason almost always helps.  Being a good model also helps.

  • Kyon_kyon_kittie

    Spanking is so not okay. There is no way to say otherwise and still be considered a moral human. I was spanked and beat all the time as a child. After i escape my mother’s house i will vow to never spank my child, or any child for that matter. I only need be at my mother’s for a few more months and then i plan to go on to college an find some way to start an organization for children to scared to speak out so they have a safe place to run to and get help. People who hurt children really do deserve the death penalty.

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