Spanking is bad for children, period, end of story. On CafeMom and other websites like it, there is an ongoing "debate" over corporal punishment. But the studies prove there really is no debate at all. Spanking and other forms of physical discipline are the last resort of parents who have lost control; they are wrong and they hurt children.
In fact, the US is one of the two countries (Somalia is the other) who hasn't ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, an international treaty that recognizes human rights in those younger than 18. In many other countries, including Sweden on which CNN just did a story, spanking is banned.
We all gasp at the video of the judge hitting his child, but some of us think nothing of turning an innocent child over our knee and swatting him. But the fact is, physical punishment is physical punishment, whether it's a paddle or a punch in the gut. And it's wrong.
In the US we all get afraid of coming off as sanctimonious or telling someone else how to parent, but the problem is that corporal punishment has lifelong effects. The same people who say things like, "I was spanked and I turned out fine" are the ones who have so much anger and vitriol built up inside that they go to the Internet and unleash their anger in the comments sections of websites. That's not "fine" at all. That is the mark of a very angry and sad person.
Children who are spanked are much more likely to be physically aggressive because they don't know how else to respond in the world. Gregory Jantz, author of When Your Teenager Becomes the Stranger in Your House, told CNN:
You're degrading their personhood, attacking them as a person, their character, their worth and value. Combine that with the anger and the hitting, that's what we call violence, and that's about power and control: one person, through physical force, exerting power and control over the other.
Spanking is lazy discipline, quite frankly. As a parent, I understand it. I've had the urge to spank my daughter many times when she is out of control. But I refrain. Because I am the grown-up and she is only 5. But I have the benefit of educated friends who are psychologists and doctors. I know the effects and talk about the effects. The only times I feel like spanking are the moments when things are out of control and I am not educated enough to know better.
As a child, I was hit. I wasn't officially "spanked," but when my mom got mad, she would lash out and hit or physically discipline me. The urge is normal, natural, and totally understandable. But the action is abuse, plain and simple. In countries where there is a ban, parents don't go to jail, but they are invited to learn other discipline techniques and become better parents. When you have the urge to strike a child, either in anger or as "punishment," then you need to step back and reassess. Is this really worth risking the stress and anxiety this might cause in my adult child? Is this worth their low self-esteem and feelings of self-worth?
We're so afraid in the US to tell others how to parent that a generation of children is slipping by while some parents think it's OK to swat to physically discipline their kids. If parents who know better don't speak out, then who will?
Do you think spanking should be banned?
Image via AlishaV/Flickr