October 28, 2016

Spanking Is Abuse

I have always felt that spanking is abusive and recently a study came out revealing that physical punishment is not an effective form of discipline, and can cause more behavior problems in the long run:
"The odds of a child being more aggressive at age 5 increased by 50% if he had been spanked more than twice in the month before the study began," says Taylor. (source)
"Of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5." (source
In the study they even found that spanking can cause the same problems as physical abuse:
"Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor also compared the negative effects of spanking with those of "physical abuse" against children. Both were associated with the same harmful outcomes, according to the news release." (source
So why isn't spanking considered a form of child abuse by society? It is most likely because it is ingrained in our culture. Our grandparents spanked our parents, so our parents spank us, and then we spank our kids. It is an endless cycle:
"The reason for this may be that spanking sets up a loop of bad behavior. Corporal punishment instills fear rather than understanding. Even if children stop tantrums when spanked, that doesn't mean they get why they shouldn't have been acting up in the first place. What's more, spanking sets a bad example, teaching children that aggressive behavior is a solution to their parents' problems." (source)
Rather than solving a problem, spanking creates a chain of more issues. Spanking shows that physical punishment solves problems, and children learn from that, continuing the cycle of abuse. However, I believe we know enough now that we can stop this vicious and violent cycle.

I was spanked as a child and I do not ever intend to hit my child. I will not let anyone hit my child. I personally fear, because of how I was raised, that I might slip up and break this oath on a bad day. It is the one thing I am most worried about becoming a parent because I do not want my child to ever fear me like I feared my mother growing up. I want a closer and better relationship with my child than I had with my mother.
"It undermines trust. Children trust their parents just a little less. They are more likely to step back from the relationship and build a self-protective shield around themselves in terms of relationships generally."  (source)
Even now that I have grown up and of course, no longer get spanked, I find it hard to forget about certain events growing up. I have forgiven my mother. I know she only did what she thought was right and just at the time. It was what she was taught and so it was the method she used. Not much about spanking was known back then, but in this modern world, I believe there is no reason to do as our parents taught us, but to instead strive for better. There are more resources out there and better ways to discipline children, like timeouts:
"Instead of spanking, the AAP recommends time-outs, which typically involve denying the child any interaction, positive or negative, for a specified period of time. These quiet moments force children to calm down and think about their emotions rather than acting on them reflexively. After all, the goal of punishment is to get children to understand not just that they did something wrong but also what motivated them to do it." (source)
Yes, many parents will say spanking works, but it is only a temporary solution with long-term side effects:
"Physical punishment can work momentarily to stop problematic behavior because children are afraid of being hit, but it doesn’t work in the long term and can make children more aggressive, Graham-Bermann says." (source)
This is because you show hitting to be an okay way to stop a behavior, so for example: if your sister was doing something you didn't like, you would hit her because that is what your parents showed you as an okay method to stop her behavior. Children follow and learn from their parents, so if you do not want your child to ever think it is okay to hit someone, then you have to show them that by never hitting them or anyone else around them.

After all, if you hit your spouse, you could end up behind bars, but if you hit your kid, it's considered "good parenting." Does that make sense to you? It does not make any sense to me.

Spanking is "lazy parenting" as it is quicker to hit your child for their bad behavior than it is to try doing a time out and communicating with them about what they did wrong. In my opinion, it is a cop out, because guess what? Time outs have been proven to be a more effective and better method of discipline:
"In one set of analyses with young children in the laboratory, time outs worked just as well as spanking for (immediate) subsequent compliance on 30 tasks assigned by the mother. Long-term compliance is decreased after spanking (Gershoff, 2002; Gershoff & Grogan-Kaylor, 2013)." (source
So there is no need to result to spanking because a timeout has the same response with no long term side effects, and the child is more likely to understand what they did wrong, so they will less likely do it again.

Another thing I would like to suggest is that once your child has calmed down, to ask them if they knew what they did wrong and if not, to explain it to them. This is how a child learns. If you hit them, they aren't going to learn anything, they are just going to fear you.

I honestly don't remember what I did wrong, all I remember is being afraid and the pain of being spanked. After all these years, those memories are still there, but I can never recall what I did to deserve a spanking, only the violent act, so I honestly did not learn what I did wrong, but instead learned to fear my mother.
"Spanking does not convey positive guidance on how to behave in a particular situation, only how not to behave if a threat of punishment is at hand." (source)
52 countries have even banned physical discipline:
"A new law in France bans spanking of children, making it the 52nd country to prohibit the practice." (source)
It is sad to think that that the United States is not one of these countries despite how advanced we are as a country. It seems we still lag behind in crucial areas.
"On the international front, physical discipline is increasingly being viewed as a violation of children’s human rights. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a directive in 2006 calling physical punishment “legalized violence against children” that should be eliminated in all settings through “legislative, administrative, social and educational measures.” The treaty that established the committee has been supported by 192 countries, with only the United States and Somalia failing to ratify it." (source)
Even The American Academy of Pediatrics is against spanking:
"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not endorse spanking under any circumstance. It's a form of punishment that becomes less effective with repeated use, according to the AAP; it also makes discipline more difficult as the child outgrows it." (source
I think the problem with banning physical punishment in the United States is because it is a freedom issue. Parents want the freedom to raise their kids as they see fit and do not want the government involved in their parenting. It is also an issue because many kids were spanked when younger:
"As many as 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report." (source
Thus that is the only method they know when it comes to raising their kids. The only way to end the cycle is for you to decide not to spank, and to instead look for better ways to discipline your children. A great resource for this is stopspanking.org.

In the end, as a parent, you get to decide whether or not you want to continue the chain of spanking or if you want to stop it and use different and better techniques. No matter what anyone says though, you can never convince me that spanking is not abusive.


APA - The case against spanking
Times - The Long-Term Effects of Spanking
Psychology Today - Research on Spanking: It’s Bad For ALL Kids
MIC - Here's What Getting Spanked as a Kid Did to Your Personality, According to Science
UT News - Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research
Live Science - 52 Countries Now Ban Spanking
KMBC - Science shows spanking can negatively affect children's behavior
How to Discipline a Child Without Hitting and Yelling

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*Post updated on 8/3/17


  1. A well-researched article on a topic that I think a lot of people are struggling with now. Thank you.