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Should Parents Spank Their Children
Spanking Children is a Reality in the US
1978 ~ I was an eight-year-old playing over at a classmate’s house, when I witnessed something I have never been able to erase from my mind. We were playing tag in the front yard with some other kids, when we heard the screams from two streets over. My friend explained that Sam Jacobs was getting whipped by his father, again.
The entire upper middle-class neighborhood remained silent as the mechanical-like lashes sounded in the spaces between this young boy’s cries. Sam was only a year older, and I recall feeling shock at first, then horror, and finally hatred toward the unseen father. His form of discipline was to inflict pain on his son with a leather strap and to publicly humiliate him by carrying out the deed in broad daylight near the driveway of their home.
In the US, spanking is a very controversial issue. Some believe that the decision to spank is a private family decision, while others believe spanking is a thing of the past, even barbaric by today’s standards. The fact is, spanking is not illegal in our country, so where do we draw the line? When does corporal punishment become child abuse? What age child can you spank? How do you spank? Where do you spank? Who can you spank? There are no formal guidelines, and those who do spank say it is their decision and parental right. So, I ask again, where do you draw the line?
Spanking: a slap, especially on the buttocks, with the open hand.
-The Oxford Dictionary
Some people think of spanking as a little pop on the diaper-padded bottom of a toddler. Just a little something to get their attention. Others use a little more skin-to-skin contact and slap the bare leg or hand. For older children, you may hear about a wooden paddle, a leather belt, or a switch from the yard applied in lashes as the child leans across a chair or a bed. Sometimes, they are chased around the house. These lashes usually leave red welts or even cuts. Some parents opt for the slap in the face, a strike often given in anger. So, what is appropriate and what is not? How do you make that judgment call?
How Young is Too Young, How Old is Too Old to Spank?
If you ever hear of someone hitting an infant, it is usually in the context of a child abuse charge. Toddlers, however, seem to make the cut. I have seen plenty of parents popping the bottoms, legs, and hands of toddlers. So, what is the age requirement? Under age two, don’t spank? Two and up, fair game? Those who spank say a toddler has more of an ability to know right from wrong. Maybe we could administer a standardized test just to make sure.
And so, how old is too old? That is a tough one. There are children who are subjected to corporal punishment up to the age of 18. Once the child becomes an adult, try to spank him and you will be looking at an assault charge. You also may get punched in response, and your child is innocent by way of self-defense.
Some families stop spanking around the teen years, as they can use more effective punishments, such as limiting cell phone use, or withholding the holy car keys. Occasionally, the game changes when the pre-teen or teen has the maturity to stand up for himself and question your actions. Some may even fight back. Most of them probably just cower in fear, because that is how they have been trained.
Corporal punishment: punishment inflicted on the body, especially by beating.
-The Oxford Dictionary
Ending Corporal Punishment in Schools Act of 2011
There is a current federal proposal calling for corporal punishment in public schools to be banned completely in all 50 states. Until the Act is passed, parents may opt their children out of the paddling policy.
Who Is Allowed to Spank the Child?
2005 ~ I was touring a private school to see if it was a good fit for my daughter who would be starting Kindergarten in the Fall. It was a very impressive school, but I became quite confused when the kind school official began to explain the paddling process and necessary paperwork that accompanied the policy. Paddling?
I have never been so at a loss for words in my life. As my mind raced to process the concept, the administrator must have seen the disbelief in my eyes. He began to rattle off some Biblical teachings about sparing the rod. I stood up while he was mid-sentence and left the school. Of course, I had heard of paddling before, but in the 21st century?
What about spanking in other environments? Is grandma allowed to spank? What about the nanny or babysitter? Do specific contractual arrangements need to be made for that? What about your neighbor or a visiting relative? I've seen an older teenager spanking the younger sister. Is that okay if mom is busy?
It is perplexing to know that if a complete stranger spanks your child, he would be arrested for assault, but if you spank your own child, it is acceptable. We hear about these bizarre altercations in the news, such as the man who slapped the crying child in WalMart or the woman who spanked the child in the thrift store. These stories make headlines because the actions were so very wrong, and, in fact, criminal. But if it is your own child………
Texas Judge Beats Daughter with Belt
Last October, a 23-year-old woman released an extremely disturbing YouTube video of her father spanking her with a belt when she was 16 years old. The father, who is a Texas judge, not only beat his disabled daughter over and over again with a thick belt, but he verbally and emotionally abused her with threats and foul language. Ironically, this judge decides hundreds of family law cases every year, including ones about child abuse. Details here.
Are Any Children Exempt From Spanking?
2007 ~ My son was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder at age five. That means he is hyper-sensitive in the areas of all five senses. He is disturbed by loud noises, bright lights, strong smells, wet or sticky food, and is very sensitive to touch. Can you imagine the effect of spanking a child with this disorder?
Do you spank the autistic child who does not like to be touched? Do you spank a Down’s Syndrome child? Do you spank the child with anxiety disorders and phobias? Do you spank the developmentally delayed child?
Do you spank the foster child who was physically abused by his birth mother? Do you spank the child who is recovering from post-traumatic stress? Do you spank an emotionally disturbed child?
Do you spank the anorexic teen, the wheelchair-bound, the blind, the deaf? Do you spank a child with a bleeding disorder? Do you spank a child with a broken leg? Maybe he gets a break from spanking until the leg heals.
I think in most of these circumstances, a parent is not going to spank the child. Consider this, though. Any other form of discipline - loss of privilege, time-out, restrictions, extra chore assignment - would still be used. Why is the spanking form of discipline different? It is different, because it may cause the child additional physical and/or emotional damage. Think about that one.
Do you think spanking is an acceptable form of discipline for children?
Where Do We Go From Here?
Do we need to create a book or manual to keep up with all the dos and don'ts of spanking? It seems to be a complicated issue. Some may say that each child is different, and the parent has to make the decision. Many spankers say they don't want the government prying into their private lives and telling them how to raise their children. But, it isn't Big Brother looking over your shoulder these days. It's your neighbor, your co-worker, the lady in Walmart, your friend, your child's pediatrician, your sister, your child's teacher, maybe even your spouse. And one day, it may be your own child looking back.
Common Defenses for Spanking Children
My daddy spanked all four of us, and we all turned out okay.
That's like saying, my daddy smoked and never had any health problems, so I will smoke. -Smoking is harmful.
Spanking works, so I do it.
Spanking is the easiest and quickest form of discipline, but doesn't your child deserve your time and effort to provide the very best care?
Spanking is right, because it says so in the Bible.
The Bible does not mention spanking in the Ten Commandments or anywhere else. Proverbs 13:24 says "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." The rod is wisdom and guidance, not some kind of ancient switch! We are to lead and discipline our children, carefully.