don’t hit your fucking kids.

hey. you shouldn’t hit your kids. i’m literally uploading an entire seven page essay with sources about why you shouldn’t hit your fucking kids.

Imagine a disciplinary tactic that leaves a child in need of bandages. With this phrasing, most people would insist that the tactic is child abuse and is not a tactic that should be employed. The tactic that left Sandy Haase in need of bandages, however, was spanking. Sandy Haase grew up in the 1960s. Her spankings were “angry, severe, and scary.” She decided she would spank her son “only as a last resort.” Looking back, her twenty-two year old son Colin says he “doesn’t see it as a negative thing.” But in reality, spanking children is a form of abuse that has been masqueraded as discipline and normalized, and parents have a responsibility to use healthy, productive parenting techniques to raise their children.

Spanking harms children psychologically, and it discredits their ability to apply logic from young ages. Furthermore, it correlates to criminal activity later in life.

Spanking is normalized and accepted in America, but there are better alternatives with which to raise children. It has been scientifically proven that spanking produces the opposite of the desired effect in both the short and long term. According to a study conducted by Southern Methodist University in 2013, thirty of the forty-one children involved misbehaved again within ten minutes of being spanked. The recurring misbehavior seen in the study is due to the fact that spanking stops the learning process instead of engaging it (“Sparing the rod” 1).

Spanking is not related to immediate compliance, and instead leads to behavioral problems. A child spanked at five years old was “far more likely to have behavioral problems at age 6, and more serious ones again at age 8 (Pinker 2).” Spanking leads to more aggression during the following school year (Hanes 6). children who are spanked are more likely to spank their own kids, thus continuing the cycle of abuse (Perry 2). They are also more likely to hit and defy their parents (Ogilvie 2). Spanking is an unmotivating punishment because it allows for no understanding of wrongdoing, nor does it provide a reward for being good.

Humans can understand and apply logic even from a young age. Adults learn through verbal communication, whereas children learn primarily through the five senses (Vijaindren 3). Although it may seem that a child understands, this is not always the case. However, because children can apply logic, they have a right to express their view on matters affecting them (Vijaindren 3). Children expressing their views does not necessitate their word being law. Discipline leads to responsible, honest, kind, and sharing adults who think about others and consequences (Staples 2, Vijaindren 3). Punishment, however, does not.

Spanking correlates to criminal activity and mental illnesses later in life. Spanked children are more likely to commit juvenile crimes, assault other children, and experience and/or partake in dating and marital abuse (Ogilvie 2). These children are also at risk of falling behind in social indicators (Hanes 4). Spanking puts children at risk for developing eating disorders, low self esteem, being victims of sexual assault and abuse, using drugs, and joining gangs (Vijaindren 2). Spanking leads to antisociality and cognitive disabilities as well (Perry 1). “Old school methods which involve caning, public shaming and piling on homework where there’s no room to go out and enjoy extra-curricular activities is not only bad for today’s generation, it was bad for yesterday’s generation as well,” says Integrated Psychology Network psychologist Valerie Jacques. Parents have a responsibility to reinforce behaviors and attitudes they want to see in a positive way. When surveyed, children have described being spanked as a source of fear, not learning. Additionally, children who suffer spanking are more likely to score higher on PTSD tests (Ogilvie 2).

Spanking has become so normalized that children do not recognize they are being abused. Specifics differ, but in the U.S., 65 to 85 percent of parents employ corporate punishment (Vijaindren 3). In the late 2000s, Professor Elizabeth Gershoff of the University of Texas at Austin determined that “eighty five percent of kids in America have been physically punished by the time they reach high school (Hanes 3).” The lowest numbers reporting spanking of children are found in a 2013 Harris poll, which stated that 67% of parents hit their kids, and that eighty one percent of Americans thought spanking was acceptable. Ninety percent of toddlers in the poll, however, were still hit (Hanes 3). A 2013 study from Columbia University found that 57 percent of moms and 40 percent of dads spank their children at three years old, and 52 percent of moms and 33 percent of dads spank their children at five years old. Another 2013 study from the Southern Methodist University found that in thirty of forty one incidents, spanked children misbehaved within ten minutes. Fifteen of thirty-three families spanked for minor misbehaviors, not as a last resort but a second. On average, they spanked after thirty seconds (Hanes 8). In both a 2012 and a 2016 study, seventy percent of Americans agreed that “a good, hard spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child (Perry 1, Pinker 1).Though the percent of Americans that condone spanking has dropped significantly since the turn of the century, it is still happening and its effects are imminent. In an ongoing study conducted by Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, Kenneth Dodge found that seventy to eighty percent of hundreds of children in their journey from pre-kindergarten to adulthood have been corporally punished. Forty seven percent of university students reported being “hit with a paddle, brush, belt, or other object at age 10.” Fifteen percent of parents hit their babies. Mack Cauthen, deacon of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Englewood, says he finds it acceptable to spank teens and preteens. Donna Tonrey, director of La Salle University’s marriage and family therapy program in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also believes that “instructive spanking is effective,” regardless of evidence pointing otherwise. Every state in the U.S. allows spanking kids, but similar hitting between adults is generally considered assault (Hanes 3). Fox News host Sean Hannity was beat with a belt and punched in the face by his father, but maintains that at the time, “I deserved it, and it would be ridiculous for my dad to be punished or accused of abuse.” Lyndsay Jones remembers getting in trouble in high school science class for talking. She was sent to the principal’s, and later, her science teacher asked her why she was so upset. When she said he didn’t understand how much trouble she’d be in, he responded, “You’ve just got to understand, it’s because your parents love you and they love God (Hanes 7).” Her memory relates back to the idea that professionals state that if parents feel a need to spank, there is a right way to do it, but most parents do not adhere to those ideas and instead to their own (Hanes 7).

Parents can easily replace spanking with healthy alternatives. One recommended system includes two that are very well: deep breaths and removing oneself from the situation, for example. However, these tactics should not be undersold. They should be paired with clearly identifying what the child should accomplish to all parties, giving small rewards in the direction of the desired behaviors, praising effort instead of outcomes, and giving larger rewards for desired behavior (Staples 5-6). Another system, recommended by psychologist Nadine Block and Doctor Laura Markham, is somewhat similar. First, the pair recommends focusing on learning. Secondly, set limits and avoid double jeopardy. Additionally, rely on natural causes. Finally, undo damage and find ways to say yes. The first step is fairly simple. Parents should always teach their kids how to make good decisions, because knowing how to with aid them their entire lives. The second step is self explanatory. Set limits and stick to them. If a child knows the rules won’t be enforced, there’s no reason not to break them. This step, Block and Marham say, should include a healthy dose of compassion because children haven’t learned self-discipline yet. The next step is recommended because “taking away traditional privileges won’t teach a kid how the world works, it will teach him how his mom works (“Sparing the rod” 2). On the other hand, a kid will learn not to push others on the playground because if he does, they won’t want to play with him. The final step is twofold. First, a parent must allow a child to undo any damage the child has done, whether it be physical or otherwise. Block and Markham suggest including the child in a discussion about consequences. Such a discussion includes providing the child a safe space in which to be upset. Then, a parent should also find ways to say yes. For example, Block says, “ If it’s time to clean up the living room, you could say, “Yes, it’s time to clean up … and, yes, I will help you … and, yes, you can leave your Lego tower up … and, yes, if we hurry, we can read an extra story.” She adds, “Find a yes even in a no, even when you’re setting a limit. But ‘Yes, I love you’ is a part of it, no matter what.”

Though America as a whole normalizes and accepts spanking children, doing so has a number of harmful results. These outcomes include increased risk for juvenile criminal activity and developing mental illnesses. Spanking children discredits children’s ability to apply and understand logic from a young age. There are, realistically speaking, no benefits to spanking kids. Healthy, effective alternatives can easily be sought out and implemented, and parents have an obligation to find and implement healthy alternatives, not harmful ones.

Works Cited

Hanes, Stephanie. “To Spank Or Not to Spank: Corporal Punishment in the US.” Christian Source Monitor, 19 Oct, 2014. SIRS Issues Researcher, http://sks.sirs.com

Ogilvie, Jessica P. “How Kids Feel The Swats of Spanking.” Los Angeles Times, 26 Dec, 2011, pp. E.1. Sirs Issues Researcher, http://sks.sirs.com

Perry, Susan. “Spanking Worsens Children’s Behavior and is Linked To Long-Term…” MinnPost.com, 02 May, 2016. SIRS Issues Researcher, http://sks.sirs.com

Pinker, Susan. “Spanking for Misbehavior? It Causes More.” Wall Street Journal. 14 Dec, 2017. SIRS Issues Researcher. http://sks.sirs.com

“Sparing the rod: finding alternatives to spanking.” Scouting. Sept.-Oct. 2014, p.20+. Research In Context. Accessed 25 Apr. 2018

Staples, Gracie B. “Family Life: To Spank Or Not?” Atlanta Journal Constitution, 23 Sep, 2014, pp. D.1. SIRS Issues Researcher, http://sks.sirs.com

Vijaindren, Audrey. “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child?” New Straits Times, 20 Nov, 2016, pp. 12. SIRS Issues Researcher, http://sks.sirs.com

Yorio, Kara. “Many Parents Feel Spanking has its Place but Doctors Worry…” The Record, 21 Sep, 2014, pp. A.1. SIRS Issues Researcher, http://sks.sirs.com


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