To Spank Or Not To Spank? (Hell Yes!)

Growing up throughout the 1970s and halfway through the 80s, many of the children I knew—myself included—received both love and consistent discipline in a less than sophisticated balance that made most of us Generation Xers appreciate being respectful children. Between corporal punishment in school, spankings at home, and the almost overwhelming acceptance by society of the notion of having to occasionally resort to physical reinforcement of rules, we developed (relatively speaking) a successful balance of respect for the adults in our lives and motivation to stay on the right path as we grew into adult hood. In my line of work working with at-risk teens, you get a clear-cut perspective of why today’s youth seem so out of control.

But given the difference in behavior between the young people today—like those I work with—and those of us who grew up with that particular method of reinforcement, its easy to see that spanking does potentially have its place in modern child-rearing given its shrinking use with today’s kids.

Insomuch as the behaviors of young people of today, the counter-productive pastimes which they seem to obsessively engage in (unprotected sex, drinking, drugs, low- and mid-level criminal activity, and gang involvement to name a few), the lack of respect for adults/authority figures, and the near contempt for which they have for education by way of their in-school behaviors is indicative of the lack of direct parental management. Needless to say these behaviors, although exhibited from time to time but were limited to a few of the “bad kids” back in the day, were nowhere near as rampant in schools as they are today. Today, youth are brazenly bringing drugs to and even having sex in our schools. A generation ago, there was the copious use of corporal punishment—paddling—in schools working in concert with involved and responsible parents at home (who were also inclined to administer their own forms of corporal punishments) which helped to help stem the tide of such potential behavior. Admittedly, its not as simple as the lack of corporal punishment which is at fault here for the misbehavior of today’s youth; the declining standards of parenting plays a major part.

But over the last 25 years or so, overly liberal attitudes have come rewrite child rearing methods to the point where fewer and fewer parents and adults are opting to use the method. To this extent, laws and the courts have all but criminalized the long-held right of a parent to use spanking as a means help rear children properly; we can forget that Biblical nonsense about sparing the rod…. Today’s youth know this. Many is the time I have heard and witnessed in the public schools where I’ve worked instances of children swapping stories about how they would be call the authorities on their parents or have them arrested if they were physically “assaulted.”

Those who promote the “spanking is bad” school of thinking have research to back them up, such as the study TulaneUniversity study providing the “strongest evidence yet against the use of spanking” (http://www.physorg.com/news190321386.html). Additionally, vocal opponents against spanking, such as The American Academy of Pediatrics have given official weight as well as a level of credibility to the anti-spanking school-of-thought. The problem is that such thinking seems to be out of touch with the reality of today’s misbehaving youth. Many of the at-risk youth I work with have said that they “wouldn’t have been so bad if their parents had whooped them.”

And without this research, the common-sense level of reasoning as to why parents should not spank their children tends to fall apart. Consider the traditional argument that spanking could give the wrong message that “violence is an acceptable way to express anger and deal with conflict.” Would that be the case, why then do we as a society use capital punishment to teach that murder is wrong? The logic you see is quite inconsistent to use a way to assail such a long-held practice.

Then there is the belief that “spanking is traumatic” to the child. The majority of Americans prior to the current crop of youth are quite familiar with the experience with having our backsides tanned by loving and concerned parents. As long as it wasn’t overdone, the only “trauma” to us was the memory of having to wait until our fathers got home from work before whippings were administered as a corrective measure; the whippings themselves unless particularly brutal did not stain our memories in the way that researchers psychiatrists would have us believe.

In fact, the only “benefits” that removing spanking as an option for rearing our children has is that it has needlessly empowered our youth to the point where they now lack discipline, made youth aware that there are no immediate consequences for their actions, and it has resulted in resulted in creating a disruptive environment where authority is constantly being challenged by those lacking the experiences to consider the consequences of their actions. For many parents, the propensity to discipline has now devolved into the penchant to love our children too much in many cases. You may ask how can a parent “love their children too much?” Its not as far-fetched as you may think. Parents who simply love their children cater to their needs. Parents who love their children too much cater to their wants. The result is that in struggling to come up with a more effective way to discipline children, parents have resorted to subconsciously buying them material things, and then threatening to withhold or take away those same things as a corrective measure. When the reality of the ineffectiveness of this practice becomes apparent, these same parents will then begin to make excuses for their children’ misbehavior rather than opting to use a more direct means…in effect, loving them too much. More “loving” measures such as withholding and “time out” are simply too impotent to be effective (logically speaking, if “time out” actually worked, then why are our jails and prisons so overcrowded?).

As mentioned before, these effects are best observed in our public schools. Having worked in the public schools for most of the last decade, I have observed that teachers today have no chance to actually teach kids because in most cases, they're busy fighting just trying to maintain classroom order. The kids who don’t listen, are not quiet, and are physically disruptive are in most cases the same kids who have never been disciplined; their parents have either ignored them, or made excuses for them when confronted by authorities. During my own youth, children did not act in such ways partially because corporal punishment was the rule in the public schools. And in most cases, if a child was spanked in school, s/he had to face worse at home. Disrespect and insubordination was not allowed in either place.
Now, teachers must as a matter of routine accept disrespect and insubordination because there is no immediate consequence for the child. The fact that they may drop out of school and live in poverty is too abstract. So as a consolation practice, teachers will send unruly and undisciplined students to the office, the office sends them to the counselor, and the counselor tells them to be “Good and go back to class;” nothing’s accomplished. As a more far-reaching consequence, the children with discipline problems are short-changed in what they are being taught because both [the] teachers’ time and the district’s resources are being diverted to take care of kids who wont listen. Corporal punishment, not abuse, can correct a lot of this. Anyone who hasn’t worked in the public schools or have a frame of reference to measure the difference can’t appreciate the problem in its totality.

Back during that comparatively simpler time when I grew up, spanking helped—along with consistent and loving parenting—instill in us a level of respect, obedience and self-control that you see lacking in today’s youth. Most of us turned out to be well-behaved, well-adjusted adults. Contrary to what the research implies about how spanking “damages a child's sense of security,” I have found that it helps establish a clear sense of stability as well as security. By knowing what our boundaries were and what the consequences would be for our negative behaviors, we as children felt rooted and, as a consequence we flourished as adults. Sure, there were parents who took corporal punishment to an extreme…to the point where it became abusive. But not all spanking is wrong.

Quite simply, if we knew there was pain involved as a consequence of engaging in some illicit activity, most of us who would receive spankings/corporal punishment as a corrective measure would think twice about doing something which we knew we had no business doing.

See also: "The You Tube Father's Laptop Shooting - You Go, Boy!")

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Comments 19 comments

Kee 5 years ago

I think you are right & have been telling people this for years now, this is the consequences of allowing the government to tell us how to rise & discipline our children. All these kids today need is someone to wipe their ass & stay on them to make sure their doing what their suppose to be doing, then we wouldn't have had any Columbine shooting, Virginia Tech massacre,....ect. I know someone who spanked his child (who is fair skinned), which left marks on her legs & butt. He was taken to jail, received a child abuse felony charge, lose his job because he was charged with a felony, now can't get a job to support his family because of the felony. They have stripped this man of any means to care for his family.


joan 5 years ago

He deserved it. Spanking a kid is one of the worst things a human can do. If not the worst.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

I always get a laugh whenever someone says how "horrible" spanking children is, and then I marvel at how naïve some people are. There are some of us who work with troubled youth and semi-violent teen offenders who understand that they simply wouldn't be the way there are if they HAD received spankings. It's either parents do it now, or the police and prison cell-mates do it later...choose wisely!


dashingscorpio profile image

dashingscorpio 5 years ago

Excellent topic!

There are things far worse than spanking a kid. As long as parents don’t go overboard it should be a part of discipline (in the early years).

When I was growing up during the 60s and 70s teachers and coaches could paddle kids!

My generation (The Baby Boomers) became so hell bent on wanting to be “hip and young forever”. It started with them introducing their kids to adults by their (first name). We didn’t have 5 & 6 year old kids running around calling adults by their first names when I was a kid. Using “Mr. Miss. & Mrs.” Acted as “buffer” in a child’s mind to distinguish between how he/she talked to adults compared to how they talked to their friends.

Miss/Mrs were changed to Ms. because women wanted a designation like men which did not indicate whether they were married or not. At any rate my generation looked at these titles as something used to address “old people”. Being informal and laid back was “cool”. Today any adult that “insists” on having kids call them Mr or Ms is seen as being an a-hole or bitch! ha ha ha

The next step was telling the schools “Don’t nobody lay a hand on my child!” In fact many parents took the side of their kids over the teachers and adults in general.

Kids treat teachers and school officials like crap. In fact one of the main problems with “public schools” is parents abandoned the teachers. No longer are they on the same page.

Some parents went as far as “getting high” with their teenagers, showering them with fancy clothes, cars, and various other toys. The end result has been teens treating their parents like “human ATM machines”. Many of them curse or yell at their parents and basically run the household.

Parents need to realize their role in life is not to be their children’s “best friend”.

The job of a parent is to provide an atmosphere which produces an educated, independent and responsible adult for the future of society. A few spankings in the “formative years” can set the tone early on for a child to respect his/her parents.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Amen!


Beach Bum Bhudda profile image

Beach Bum Bhudda 5 years ago from Maui, Hawaii

The rampant rise in drug use and teen sex has nothing to do with not being spanked. Look at what children are going through nowadays....Break up of families, economic hardships, overworked parents, homelessness, and overall anxiety from terrorism and political unrest. Children nowadays no longer have close extended families or a cultural environment that offers productive promises for the future. On top of all this, today's children are exposed to violence and horror from infancy to adolescence, by the prevalence of violent television, movies and books.

Today's children need limits yes, but they also need reassurance and support. Spanking children is an ignorant and outdated concept. Spanking is directly linked to increased risk of teenage defiance and delinquency. Spanking does not teach; it hurts. If inflicting children with fear and corporal punishment is the answer to the problems of today's youth, then burning witches is still the answer to religious dissidents. Inflicting pain upon another does not teach understanding and respect towards others; it only serves to continue the archaic notion, that those in power have the right to hurt those who refuse to be subordinate.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Although I respect your opinion, I'm old enough to have lived in a society where spanking was universally accepted as well as practiced. Children were afraid to try something as crazy as bring drugs into schools. More people in the neighborhoods were involved with parenting, especially in urban neighborhoods where I was raised. There were no metal detectors or even police officers in schools. Granted, you are right when you imply that children need more direct parenting, but its liberal attitudes like "don't spank" which is partially responsible for what's happening with children. I work with at-risk teens, and I see every day what happens when a society eliminates all measures of sanctions with regards to raising children. Children are not the equal of adults, and therefore do not merit the same rights by virtue of their limited experience and lack of emotional control (which by the way, most of older children were taught). Sometimes, people need the fear of God put into them. If the jury of my "peers" in Semi Valley in 1992 said it was ok for cops to beat Rodney King like they did when they acquitted them, then surely its ok for me to use lesser force to keep my child from going astray. I'm saying it should be last-resort option, not a first-strike measure in disciplining.


sunshinegirl323 profile image

sunshinegirl323 5 years ago

I agree with you all the way. I have a 23-year-old who unfortunately if she was graded on lives experiences she would of got an A plus. She has had a lot of loss in her life. She was a kid that was heading down the wrong path.

I believe that all my support and discipline is what made her the great person she is today. I never really spanked her. I think that the threat of spanking did help me.

The problem is that in our society is that people take it over board. They don't realize a slap on the ass is all it takes. They believe hurting a child is gonna work. I always told myself, when I got extremely frustrated, I DID NOT PUT HER ON THIS EARTH TO BE ABUSED". I did give her a slap here and there without hurting her. That is the difference.

My grandfather always said get a newspaper and roll it up and swat her on the ass with it. He said all it took was to embarrass a child.

Children should be made to respect. My generation has failed to show our children that. Children should acknowledge an adult when in their presence.

I am going to follow this hub. You will see my comments time to time. If I write all that I feel and think I will never get my grandchildren fed today.

Thank you for your opinions.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

And that's all my posting suggest...that spanking in and of itself should always be an option. We are in a war for the souls of our children, and in war, there simply are no rules (regardless of the ridiculous belief that there are "rules of war"). Parents should not be limited in options as to how they discipline their children. Spankings should be (1) used in concert with direct and involved parenting, and (2) should not always be a "first strike" option, but should be held as an option nevertheless. For some reason, adults in this country are always trying to make children the equal of adults in treatment, and they are not adults. They don't always deserve explanations for "why" questions. WE are the adults, yet I know of households where the children control the parents. You can run your houses the way you see fit, but I remember when kids didn't talk back to parents, and parents demanded the respect of those who brought their kids into the world...not the other way around.


A M Lehrer profile image

A M Lehrer 5 years ago from Southern United States

This is a subject my mother and I can not agree on. Interesting to read another perspective. Thanks for the controversial subject matter.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Use what works, and trying to "understand your child" (or be their "friend") doesn't work. Some say that spanking is "barbaric," but some of us remember living in a time--a better time--when we didn't have metal detectors and police officers stationed in public schools, when children didn't question an adult's authority or talk back, when children were afraid to challenge authority...PERIOD, and when we didn't have households where children controlled the parents, not the other way around. It's a funny thing...those of us of received spankings swear by them as a means of keeping a child on the straight-n-narrow, while those who didn't receive spankings are the ones against the practice.


A M Lehrer profile image

A M Lehrer 5 years ago from Southern United States

I actually was spanked growing up and am against the practice! That why my mom & I can't agree on this. I just can't do it. I tried but I felt horrible hurting my little girl. There are other ways of gaining respect rather than forcing and demanding it. I do agree however that some more punishment and discipline is needed with younger generations, where yes, years ago we were afraid of what our parents would do to us if we got caught so we didn't do it or some did the alternative and hid it from the parents! I do not want my daughter controlling me by any means, I want her to feel comfortable coming to me for anything, when she has a problem or doubt and am working building that relationship now, without spanking. I don't want her to behave out of fear. I want her to know why she should live a good life respecting other people, herself and laws/rules.


slaffery profile image

slaffery 5 years ago from Kansas, USA

I am firm believer that spanking should be used as a last resort. There are better ways to teach a child then spanking. When I think of spanking I think of punishment. There is a difference between discipline and punishment. Discipline is teaching. I would much rather teach my child to make good decisions because it's the right thing to do versus making a decision based on the fear of being spanked.

Don't get me wrong, I am not against spanking I just think there are just as many other ways to get through to your child that work just as effectively.

Each child is different and responds to discipline and punishment in different ways. It is our jobs as parents to be in tune with our children and learn what gets through to them best. Discipline take longer to teach and you have to have learn some patience with your child as well as you have to be consistent. Also important to remember is that behavior is a learned skill. It takes time and repetition to get it right.

If you start out spanking and say that doesn't work, then what? Start out trying to teach your child to stop and think before making bad choices then if that still isn't getting through maybe a good spank might do the trick.

The point is we want to teach our children to be able make good choices and there are many tools out there we can use. As parents we need to think about how we will teach our children and when is discipline needed or when is punishment needed.

One last thing, Just because it worked 40 years ago does not mean it is necessarily the right thing for this day and age. Life was different back then. Famlies stay together, there was less teen pregnancy. The TV & Music industries were actually censored. The economy was in a different place where the dollar bill had more value. Drug & Alcohol addictions were there but not as prevalant as in today's society.

Not spanking a child didn't cause all of these issues. I am glad you wrote about this. This shouldn't be a taboo subject as it seems to be. I wrote a hub called Discipline or Punishment, What's the difference as it is my hope that people realize there is a difference and when you know what your objective is for your child then you can achieve the types of behaviors that you desire of your child.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 5 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

You are right on many levels.


Julie Worley 3 years ago

In 2008 Human Rights Watch and ACLU released Study "A Violent Education", laregely ignored, regarding the fact the schoolchildren Kindergarten through 12th Grade are legally beaten with wooden boards in US Public Schools in predominantly southern states, still legal and protected today, with No Safety standards! See shocking brutally violent injuries to children from school corporal punishment at YouTube Video trailer for Documentary Movie "The Board of Education" by Jared Abrams at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vt4v7KsFi8. The ACLU recommended that Federal Bill H.R. 3027 "The Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act" be enacted at the Senate hearing to end the school-to-prison pipeline held 12/12/12. Federal lawmakers enacted a law to Prohibit Corporal Punishment for use against convicted Felons in ALL U.S. Prisons, Cost to Abolish School Corporal Punishment/Paddling to Inflict Pain Punishment on schoolchildren, already Illegal in Schools in 31 U.S. States, $0! See dont hit students dot com


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 3 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Although I respect your opinion, I actually remember a time when corporal punishment was used both in the home and in school regularly...and we didn't have anything CLOSE to the level of disrespect in either place. We also didn't have school shootings, and children running/controlling the house.


angel 3 years ago

I respect your opinion. But you Have no right to tell me how to raise my children.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 3 years ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com) Author

Hey, if you want a house where your children are bossing YOU around, disrespecting adults, committing crimes, in and out of jail, experimenting with drugs, and don't know their place...that's your choice. But I've lived and seen how effective direct parenting (along with the option of a whack to the backside) is. If you're one of those parents who uses "time out" as the only option, your child is probably in the corner planning how NOT to get caught next time doing wrong rather than thinking about what they did. Just open your mind.


dick 3 years ago

I am fom europe.I am a boy from 16.Still spanked occaionly.Lsat week caugth with pot.I am not proud or something like that.My parents said that they will give me a spanking again,16 or not.caugth with that things. Dad or sometmes mom still put me over the knee.That is embrassig!!!My parents say that's part of the punishment.I feel asamed, ans embrassed that i Occasionly lay over dad's or mom's knee.

In case of that smokig pot, it was an awful spanking. 16 yr .

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