For some parents, the question isn't, "should you spank your children?" -- it's "how soon can you start spanking?" The answer made my jaw drop. 30 percent of babies are spanked before they can even walk. Seriously, that's not a typo: 30 percent of babies under the age of one are spanked by a parent at least once a month, according to a study of 2,788 families. Spanking babies ... really, parents? How's that working out for you?
It's probably naive of me to be shocked at how many parents spank their babies. And it's clearly ... wait, hold on here. I have to stop in the middle of writing this post to point out how weird it feels to even write the phrase, "spanking babies." SPANKING! BABIES! This is something people are doing?!? That's so messed up, people. So messed up.
I can't imagine that if you're already spanking a child that young, it's not part of a well thought-out disciplinary program. You're just at your wits' end. You don't know what you're doing. And you're probably out of control yourself.
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Why in the hell parents would do that? According to the researchers, some parents just don't seem to know that there are alternatives to hitting their kids. Which ... okay, I'm digging around for compassion right now but all I'm turning up is exasperation. I guess that's why I never became a social worker.
Well thank goodness for those social workers. “Intervention to reduce or eliminate spanking has the potential to contribute to the well-being of families and children who are at-risk of becoming involved with the (social services) system,” says University of Michigan professor Shawna Lee. Some parents need just need more support -- they need to be shown what else they can do besides spank their children.
I think spanking is ineffective for kids of any age, even if you are thoughtful about it. But spanking very small children, especially babies, is simply abusive. And ultimately it just makes me sad that it's going on at all.
Have you ever seen parents or caretakers spanking a baby or toddler?
Image via Ryan McDonough/Flickr