Imagine a child doing anything he wants as he grows up and parents only mildly warning him against the ill consequences of certain acts or situations. We all know that a child is launched into this world, not knowing what acts are safe or unsafe and naturally needing not just guidance and protection but also his parents' intervention. Every child wants to explore and is instinctively stubborn and disobedient. In this state of natural ignorance and curiosity, a parent's prohibitions are also naturally in place. Spanking becomes that tool of prohibition. But all too often, this tool is more often taken to extremes and improperly imposed and thus brings about adverse consequences on the child. In response to popular outcry against the negative effects of spanking, child maltreatment has been banned in 23 countries (Taylor, 2009). These effects include aggression and other anti-social behaviors, depression, and poor mental health in childhood and adulthood (Taylor). This paper will try to prove that, despite this popular objection, spanking remains the appropriate tool in a child's discipline when correctly used.
Claim - Spanking remains the appropriate tool in a child's discipline as nature intended. The Holy Scriptures set it as the rule. The wisdom of the ages determined that to "spare the rod" is "to spoil the child." Parenthood is designed to provide not just physical sustenance but also directions as to what acts or situations are right or wrong. Parents are expected to possess that wisdom and to pass their knowledge on to their child. Because a child has a will of his own, a parent's will must curb or direct it. The child must be made to recognize his parent's superiority and desire to protect by yielding his will to his parent's. In other cases, the child has to be spanked to connect the pain with the wrong or undesirable act performed. Without the association, he is likely to repeat the act. A young child cannot be talked out of a wrong act because of his immaturity. Spanking alone can drive the point home to his limited awareness and discourage a repeat of the act. Current laws prohibiting corporal punishment have induced violence rather than contain it. Spanking should be re-instated as the basic tool of discipline for children but in an enlightened manner.
Argument 1 - Opponents of corporal punishment or spanking ground their stand from the finding of more and more researches on the consequences of spanking on children. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth-Mother and Child data revealed that spanking produced more depressive symptoms among children, regardless of race (Christie-Mizzell et al., 2008). Respondents to the study consisted of both African-American and European-American mothers and children. The study also found that depressive symptoms decreased when emotional support was increased. Emotional support is thus necessary to balance or decrease the negative impact of spanking on children's mental health (Grogan-Kaylor, 2007). Spanking develops depression in children who feel helpless when they are spanked. In addition to depression, spanking also produces aggression in the child (Taylor et al., 2009). The experience of pain leads him to internalize the aggression that comes with the pain through spanking. Aggression can easily develop into violence in childhood or adulthood (Taylor et al., Grogan-Kaylor, Christie Mizzell et al.).
Pediatricians and other caregivers of children agree that corporal punishment is not a necessary form of child discipline (Taylor et al., 2009). They believe that there are other and non-physical forms of discipline that are as effective as spanking or better. Teaching non-physical strategies to parents has yet to be successful. Furthermore, strong social marketing campaigns and similar efforts are needed to alter current beliefs about corporal punishment. These campaigns should emphasize the existence and advantage of other forms of discipline without the risks incurred in corporal punishment or spanking (Taylor et al.). Other opponents of corporal punishment also contend that the child who is spanked improperly suffers from a loss of self-esteem and emotional support, loss of parental respect and humiliation.
Another study found that spanking results in lower IQ. An analysis of intelligence scores of 1,500 children who participated in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth showed that those who were often spanked had lower IQs (Boyles, 2009). Their region or residence had no significant connection. Another study revealed that national average IQ scores were lower in countries where spanking was a common practice. University of New Hampshire sociologist Murray A. Straus led the research. He was a vocal opponent of corporal punishment. He and his colleague analyzed IQ data derived from 806 children aged 2-4 at enrollment and 704 of them when they turned 5-9. Whatever their parental education and socioeconomic levels, spanking had negative influence on intelligence. He also analyzed IQ scores of more than 17,000 university students in 32 countries. When compared with national average IQ scores, IQ scores were lower among children where spanking was common. Most of the children were spanked from children up to teen age. This result was bolstered by that of Duke University researchers, led by Dr. Liza Berlin. Their worked found a connection between spanking in early childhood and lesser intelligence. They surveyed 2,500 racially diverse and low-income mothers on their use of spanking in disciplining their toddlers. Those who were spanked at age 1 became more aggressive by age 2 than those who were not spanked. These children also scored lower in mental development tests at age 3. Another analysis conducted in 2002 on spanking studies through six decades connected the practice to 10 negative behaviors. These behaviors included aggression, anti-social behavior and mental health problems. Developmental psychologist Elizabeth Gershoff commented that the findings of more than 90% of studies revealed the negative consequences of spanking (Boyles).
Rebuttal -- Spanking remains the appropriate tool in a child's discipline when correctly used. The correct use begins with the proper motivation of parents for spanking. The validity of the findings of these studies should not be considered reliable because they were made by strong opponents of spanking (Boyles, 2009). These studies also lacked definiteness. One of the opponents even admitted that they could not tell some parents to spank their children and other parents not to. Gershoff disclosed that no single study could provide a clear-cut evidence or conclusion on the harm of spanking. The constant finding on the harm of spanking on a child may well be biased for these reasons. But looking at all the evidence made available, the Surgeon General could not do anything but agree to ban corporal punishment in schools (Boyles).
Toddlers who misbehave or perform an unsafe or undesirable act are too young to be subjected to reasoning. It also takes too much time to explain anything in their cognitive level. Mere admonition will not create the needed impact. Mild spanking alone can articulate the message about the danger of the act or unpleasantness of the behavior. The pain must be proportionate to the act and the spanking parent must directly connect them verbally. Simply calling attention and verbal warning will not make an impression. Controlled pain sends home a straight and meaningful message. And because it is controlled and later on explained in the child's level of understanding, it need not lead to child abuse or violence in either the parent or the child in later life.
Everyone gets spanked a few or more times by parents with almost no exception. But many people who grow up and succeed do not necessarily develop aggression, loss of self-esteem, violence or humiliation just because they were spanked when they were children. Among these are the most behaved persons who eventually even become leaders or heroes who even thank their parents for the way they were raised as children. That parenting method has to include frequent or infrequent corporal punishment, without which they would not have effectively differentiated between what is right and what is wrong. If their parents did not impose strained corporal punishment, it would have been quite difficult for these children to learn it more effectively.
Argument 2 -- Opponents also say that spanking has limited effectiveness. The child perceives only the pain that goes with it and later on avoids the undesirable act in order to avoid the pain that may come after the act. Hence, the child becomes indoctrinated only in the avoidance of pain rather than the avoidance of what is wrong or internalizing of what is right. Spanking only creates a fear of pain rather than an inclination to choose what is good or right. It does not teach moral values to a child as it is supposed to. Furthermore, it restrains a child's misbehavior only on short-term. It gradually loses its effectiveness. The parent must intensify the infliction of pain in order to induce obedience and this leads to child abuse and violence.
Rebuttal - spanking remains the appropriate tool in a child's discipline when correctly used. It is a parent's duty to correct an erring or misbehaving child in a…