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Spanking: Sometimes or Never?

Many of us grew up in a time when spanking wasn't questioned or criticized. Even when I was in highschool, our principal would discipline students with a wooden paddle, if he had a "paddle permit" from the student's parents. And most parents did sign the permit.

However, most psychologists and pediatricians now believe that parents should never strike a child. Even assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) is proposing a bill that would make it illegal to hit children younger than 4.

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In this recent Los Angeles Times article, the consequences of spanking are detailed by several professionals. Everyone is in agreement that spanking doesn't change a child's behavior, and many studies show that children who are spanked have an increased incidence of behavioral and emotional problems later in life.

Frequent and impulsive spanking is clearly detrimental, researchers agree. Other kinds of physical punishment, including hitting children with objects, are harmful as well. "Corporal punishment has really serious side effects," says Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology at Yale University and president-elect of the American Psychological Assn. "Children who are hit become more aggressive."

There's even evidence to suggest children are developmentally impacted by spanking:

Spanking also appears to have a detrimental effect on the brain. In 1999, Straus found after a two-year study that 2- to 9-year-olds who were spanked developed less rapidly, judging from cognitive tests, than other children.

After you read the article, I'd love to know what you think.

Were you spanked as a child? Were your parents angry or impulsive about it, or measured and calm? How do you discipline your child now or how do you plan to when you become a parent?

Join The Conversation
gabby-abby gabby-abby 9 years
yes i was but i was very diserving. i still spank my children and it seems to work but im careing nice and not abusive to them and i also use taps on their hinies to get their attention.
reeveske reeveske 10 years
I dont think ppl should spank their children, except in emergency sort of situations like with Marci, so that they know to never run across the street without looking. Cause in situations like that, you almost dont have time to discipline with words or privilage removal or whatever.
Hope5 Hope5 10 years
Spare the rod and spoil the child. I do believe in spanking not beating my children.
flutterpie flutterpie 10 years
my dad "spanked" (i use this term rather loosely because i was pretty much hit, kicked or choked, if the belt was just not available) mostly out of anger. we feared him and we never threw tantrums as little children or did anything bad, out of fear. but as we got older we learned the fine art of hiding things from him and we became desensitized to it. it was a long road to learning that my dad did it to us because it was done to him and so and so forth. i never plan on beating my children, but i am very aware that sometimes a simple swat on the butt is necessary. this is something that would not be done out of anger and i will make sure my child knows that. as far as that representative from mountain view goes, she would be better off fixing a broken system that contains real life abused children vs trying to govern how parents discipline their children im just an orange county girl, living in an extraordinary world
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 10 years
Trixie - I totally thought this was going to be a bedroom thing too! Great minds think alike ;) Now to the real topic... I think I got a spanking or two growing up and I turned out just fine. I think that child abuse should be legislated, but spanking? It's too invasive for the federal government to try to legislate a couple waps on the butt, in my opinion. I think there is a line between discipline and abuse, and I think that line should never be crossed. But your average hand to the tush spank, I'm thinking it's not something to go to court over.
grl-in-the-world grl-in-the-world 10 years
I was spanked as a kid and I do think it is wrong. I will never spank my children. I used to work as a nanny in a house where the children were spanked by their parents and I also had permission to spank them. The children ran wild when they were with their parents, but I never once spanked them or threatened them with a spanking, and their behaviour was wonderful under my care. I set out firm ground rules for expected behaviour and if they weren't followed to a T then they would get a time-out or a toy or privilege removed. Kids are very smart, even at a young age they can adhere to rules and expectations if they are taught with consistency. They also respond amazingly to positive reinforcement, children love to be praised for good behaviour and will strive to please you. For them it's about testing boundaries and getting attention, so if you make the boundaries clear and give them lots of attention for positive behaviours things run a lot more smoothly.
SoftRockStar SoftRockStar 10 years
Even though we were pretty good kids, my brothers and I were spanked by our parents. But not until we were old enough to understand why we were being punished. I have some memorable spankings, and even though they hurt, in hindsight I appreciate the time my parents took to discipline me.
rkdub rkdub 10 years
Well, when I was a child my parents always managed to put the fear of God in both my sister and I and I was only spanked one time (and I REALLY had it coming.... I was pretending to be cat woman and swinging on the towel rack in the bathroom.... needless to say there was a hole in the wall the size of my head when the rack came flying off the wall and sent me sprawling....). I think that discipline is very important... my sister and I had our barbies taken away, tv time taken away, etc. and somehow through spending so much time talking about proper behavior, we managed to get it right....
Bonne Bonne 10 years
Spanking when there is a diaper - "cushion" works well, just a swat. Even that little they know the rules etc. For example, I used to chase my little sister around the house and pat her butt when I got her - she laughed. The same pat as a punishment, she cries. However, I was spanked out of anger a lot with BOB (board on butt) which was a wooded spatula or a meter stick. I turned out okay, despite that.
cgmaetc cgmaetc 10 years
My sis and I were both spanked as children. It worked for me, but not for her. Every child is different. I guess if she had her positive behaviors reinforced rather than the negative ones, she might have behaved better as a child. Me, all I needed was for my mom to toss me a "look" and I usually fell in line. The mere threat of a butt whuppin' was enough. There is no blanket rule for every child. What I cannot tolerate are these permissive parents to want to 'befriend' their children and who never enact any type of discipline or control. that's is the opposite end of the specturm. -the ceeg
Marci Marci 10 years
honeysugar28, any mother who laughs and doesn't have their child say they are sorry for throwing a book at someone isn't taking control of their child. Her mother laughing just reinforces bad behavior. So many parents are afraid their kids might not like them if they discipline them, but they're not doing them any favorors because they are just putting a person on the face of the earth who is going to have a lot of social issues and no one's going to like.
honeysugar28 honeysugar28 10 years
I was never spanked or if I was it was very few times when I was very little. My mom would ground me and that would work for me. But some children are out of control. Yesterday this 2 year old little girl came and just threw a book at me! And her mom just laughed! Some kids don't understand words but after a certain age I would say no spanking.
Miggs0708 Miggs0708 10 years
I was spanked as a child (or at least threatened with it - that was really all we needed, just the threat of my dad LOL), and I have spanked my daugher. Of course, not now, other things work better, but I don't see such an issue with it. It wasn't an issue for years and I have to say I wonder why so many "experts" feel the need to delve into the situation now. I am just so tired of these so called experts telling me how I should raise my child and how I shouldn't. I swear they only come up with some new information just so they can make money on books and I think there are many other issues out there that are more important that should be studied. It just seems like kids now a days are more violent now during the "time-out years" then in decades past when spanking was accepted and practiced and I think that has a lot more to do with other things in our society then it does with whether a parent spanks or not.
Marci Marci 10 years
I got a swat on the butt exactly once in my life when I ran out into the middle of the street. I never did *that* again. But I'm against spanking. It isn't necessary to discipline. My parents raised 6 kids by being in charge and us knowing that. No hitting was needed to keep us in line.
starvingidol starvingidol 10 years
I have a 6 year old son. And people are ALWAYS complimenting me on his behavior. He's well mannered, thoughtful, patient and calm. I've never had to spank him. I've never had to punish him. When he does something good, I praise it. I praise him for sitting still and being patient. I praise him for helping me around the house, and cleaning his room. I'm constantly hugging him and kissing him and telling him how good he is. As as result he doesn't act out to get attention. And because he's so good I don't feel bad when I want to spoil him. He's 6 so even though he's an angel, he can still throw an occational fit about something. But when he does that, I send him to his room to calm down. I DON'T respond to threats. Once he realizes he doesn't get his way, and won't get any attention he calms down really fast and flies right. I think most kids misbehave because their parents are either inconsistent between what they say and do, or don't give enough attention. Also, I can kill you with my brain.
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
well please trixie6; let the question take you where it will, lol!
Trixie6 Trixie6 10 years
This is so bad, but I was expecting this to be about spanking in the bedroom, not in relation to children. I was rarely spanked as a child. Just the threat was enough to scare me. I don't spank my kids for just the reason that Kendalheart stated - Spanking teaches children that violence is OK. We use time out and we take away priveleges like TV & computer time. I was in the grocery store & saw this little boy hit his sister. His mom tells him not to hit and then whacks him on the butt. I so wanted to say something to her, but hubby warned me off.
lickety-split lickety-split 10 years
spanking, no. but a swat on the butt (it's the idea rather than then the hit, there's almost no force) once in awhile happens at out house. i can count on my one hand the number of times for each child. it's always followed by a time out and then a discussion of what happened and why that wasn't acceptable. my now 6 year old stole something from target when she was almost 5. she asked for it, was told no and then put it in her pocket anyway. so she KNEW what she was doing was wrong and did it anyway. she also was martched back tot he store and made to hand it over the the security guard at the door. after that day we didn't discuss it anymore unless she brought it up ('mommy do all these people know i stole something last time i was here'). i think mine are to big now for this. taking away a privlidge has a bigger impact (my middle one did not attend a b day party for one of her class mates last weekend because of poor behavior at the last event she went to.) i try not to judge other parents though, we all know our kids better than anyone else and what is going to get the desired response.
kendalheart kendalheart 10 years
I agree very much with this. I was spanked as a child and up until 2 years ago I also thought I would spank my own children however, I began taking child development classes to become a teacher and realized that it was harmful to children. Although I "respected" my mother because she basically made me through spanking, I know now that there are other ways of going about this. This is not to say I believe in letting children walk all over you but there more emotionally stable ways of handling a situation. Besides, what does this teach to children?? It teaches that when you are angry, upset, confused or mad you hit someone! I have had to overcome this in adulthood, not hitting (even in joking around) and it is hard all because I was taught it was okay. I think people need to educate themselves on this subject and stop using that same old, "spare the rod spoil the child" its outdated and children are not animals and can know right from wrong without being hit!
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