Culture

Spanking Children

I believe spanking should be a last resort in disciplining a child, but not out of the question. I agree with Dr. John Rosemond, To Spank or Not to Spank: A Parents’ Handbook, that are more effective means of disciplining a child, but that when done properly spanking is a viable option that can benefit an errant child. Dr. Larzelere (Combining Love and Limits in Authoritative Parenting: A Conditional Sequence Model of Disciplinary Responses; 1998) contended that “optimal disciplinary responses begin with less severe tactics, such as reasoning, but proceed to firmer disciplinary tactics when the initial tactic achieves neither compliance nor an acceptable compromise.”

Argument

“Spanking demonstrates the use of violence as a solution to a problem.”

Response

Violence, according to Princeton’s Cognitive Science definition, (www.cogsci.princeton.edu/cgi-bin/webwn) is a “turbulent state resulting in injuries and destruction” whereas discipline is defined as “train by instruction and practice; especially to teach self-control”. Spanking should not be practiced as a violent behavior, but rather as a controlled response to persistent disobedience. Rosemond retorts that those against spanking fail to draw the line between spanking and beating. Or, in other words between discipline and violence. Benatar (1998) demonstrates that the reasoning that corporal punishment teaches a child violence as an effective solution to a problem is illogical. If this were the case the child would reach the same conclusion regarding other means of discipline. He also argues that a child is able to differentiate between “a responsible adult authority legitimately punishing wrongdoing” and their arbitrarily beating up on just anyone who vexes them.

Argument

“Spanking is not an expression of love.”

Response

This is a vague statement to respond to. I feel however that spanking as a form of restrained discipline is a form of love. The desired outcome is for the betterment of the child. Larzelere (Combining Love and Limits in Authoritative Parenting: A Conditional Sequence Model of Disciplinary Responses; 1998) presents non-abusive corporal punishment as the third means of disciplinary response, in logical progress, in a method of combining love with limits.

Argument

“Spanking is likely to make aggressive people more aggressive.”

Response

Lyons and Larzelere’s report on Corporal Punishment and Aggression (Where is Evidence That Non-Abusive Corporal Punishment Increases Aggression? 1996) shows serious flaws in the studies that report correlation or causation. Only 1 journal article of 132 on the subject from between 1984 and 1993 actually tried to exclude child abuse (or violence vs. spanking) from the measure of corporal punishment. Their findings concluded that is no sound evidence that spanking is ineffective, nor that it should be associated with increased risk of child aggression. It was found however, that parents were more likely to use corporal punishment if it had been used on them. In light of my argument, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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