Anyone who is a parent is familiar with the ongoing debate about the merits of spanking children and the damage it can cause, and most people who are not parents know all about this too. The debate is especially relevant where we live because a new law is about to be passed to prevent parents from spanking their children. of course, the traditional family crowd is up in arms about it. Here are my views about spanking children.
I do not particularly support the new law that would ban spanking, because I don’t think our country of residence is in any place to enforce it and I think that focusing on establishing civil liberties rather than taking away one of the few that exists – even if I don’t agree with it – is much more important. Besides, education will help a great deal more than a law to prevent parents from spanking. Having said that, an email being circulated by the pro-spanking lobby is making me sick. The points being made in the email are relevant for all parents, not just those in a country where spanking is about to be banned.
The pro-spanking crowd set out to debunk 10 “myths” about spanking, and to show why spanking is acceptable. I will now debunk the debunking :).
1. “Every spanking, even the most gentle one, leaves long-term negative consequences in children. That is why every physical punishment is abuse.”
No. Not every spanking leaves long-term consequences, as the pro-spankers set out to prove in their rant. But hey, pro-spankers, just because not every spanking leaves marks on a child’s body, that doesn’t mean there are no consequences. Spanking doesn’t have to be traumatic but it can be, and when is not traumatic that doesn’t make it ideal. This “myth” about spanking, like most of the others still to come, is an extreme view expressed by some. The fact that some hold extreme anti-spanking views doesn’t make the other extreme the correct view.
2. “Violence creates violence. Children who are spanked become violent people.”
No, people who were spanked as children may not turn into people who go about the street killing people with an axe. They are, however, more likely to also spank their own kids.
3. “Rationally induced physical punishment is a stepping stone to out of control physical violence towards a child.”
I don’t think that is true, but that doesn’t make spanking the right choice.
4. “Physical punishments harm a child’s right to bodily integrity.”
WTF? The pro-spanking lobby writes that this is not so: “In difference to physical abuse, physical punishment does not injure a child and does not harm their bodily integrity. Parents punish a child so that they won’t repeat dangerous or aggressive behaviors in the future, so it is for the child’s good. The assumption is that that parents are adults who are informed and able to make decisions, so they know better what is in the child’s best interest than the child does.”
OK, claim the right to want to spank your child because you know better than them. But let’s not kid ourselves, spanking is one of the very definitions of robbing a child of bodily integrity. Do you want to spank? If you are that informed, responsible adult, go on and take full responsibility for it instead of making up excuses.
5. “All civilized countries have laws that ban spanking.”
Indeed, that statement is false. So what? Does that give you the right to spank?
6. “It is always possible to discipline children in ways other than spanking.”
They say that this is not true. Perhaps they are right. Disciplining in other ways than spanking may not be possible if the parent has lost control (to my shame, I admit that this has happened to me before). It may not be possible if a parent learned nothing but spanking as a disciplinary method in childhood as well. However, I dispute the notion that some behaviors must be handled through spanking. Discipling children depends not on the child’s behavior, but the tools in a parents tool box. Regardless of the behavior.
7. “There is a need for equality between parents and children.”
Here, the pro-spankers pull out the “parents are more experienced in life” card. This is true, but more experience does not mean more rights. Equal rights do not equal letting your child make all the decisions. This is where I differ from most people in this country – I do see my children as equals. Yes, I do have more experience in life and more information and knowledge. I do not have more feelings, needs, and wants. I do not have a bigger right to be treated as a human than they do. More experience means that, unlike my two year-old, who is prone to resolving conflicts with his sister by hitting her, I have other tools.
Children are completely dependent on us, their parents, especially during the early years. Raising children is a privilege, and one that will not last long. Let’s not abuse that privilege by pretending they are lower down the hierarchical ladder than we are, and that we are therefore allowed to do anything we choose to them.
8. “Parents who spank show their powerlessness.”
As in, they come from a place of not knowing what else to do. I agree. The spankers, on the other hand, say: “Absolutely incorrect. Endless explanations show a lack of power, while spanking shows power. For a child to be polite and socialized, parents need to show their power.”
Come on, now! All parents make their children do stuff they don’t like sometimes. Like, washing hair and going to bed at a reasonable hour, for instance. There are so many other ways to deal with that than spanking. Spanking shows powerlessness, as well as a total lack of creativity.
9. “Parents who spank are sadists taking it out on those who are physically weaker.”
No, says the spanker, when logical arguments don’t work, the parent must show who is boss by spanking. Let me give you a tip, spanker: besides spanking, you can physically remove your child from a situation, use logical consequences, or even use that time-out that most attachment parents disagree with. All are better than spanking.
Perhaps the majority of parents who spank are not sadists at all, but some sure are. And yes, spanking children means taking it out on the physically weaker.
10. “They won’t less us in the European Union unless we pass the anti-spanking law.”
Not true. One point for the spankers. Does that mean spanking is totally acceptable? I didn’t think so, either!