Ban spanking?

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Faith in Humanity Restored

I'm glad to see that the readers of Universal Hub are not hysterics who know absolutely nothing about how hard it is to train small children not to 1. kill themselves 2. kill other children 3. hit their adult caregivers in the face with hard objects.

That makes no sense

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So - you teach kids not to hit by hitting them? Do you also teach them to cross the street safely by pushing them into the middle of the intersection? That'll learn 'em!

I agree that a law banning spanking is a stupid idea, but if the only way you can think to teach a child not to kill or hit is by smacking them, you shouldn't be a parent.

If you slap a kid's hand

so that he won't touch the surface of a hot oven, would that be a banned form of spanking? I'm not a parent, but I think the slap might be a better alternative than letting the kid discover for himself what a second-degree burn feels like.

Exactly!

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"Natural Consequences" are sometimes "fatal consequences", with nothing in between. Seraphic is also right, even if her description isn't exactly correct. Very young and highly mobile children LACK SENSE!

My eldest was sprinting around at 10 MONTHS old. He was - and is - mechanically gifted. By the time he was nearly two, I couldn't keep up with him as I was 9 months pregnant. He let himself out of his seat belt and ran out into a busy parking lot. When I retrieved him, I spanked him.

There is no way to "reason" with such a child. No "natural consequence" that isn't invariably fatal or predictable. Sorry, not much else to do!

He didn't do it again.

Eye Roll Please

How much time have anti-spanking advocates spent around small children?

It makes no sense to teach a teenager or an older child not to hit by spanking them (not "hitting" or "slapping [in the face]", hello). But between the ages of 2 and 5--guess what? Small children are not very intelligent. (Oh, I hear the shrieks of horror now!) They cannot read. They cannot add. They can barely figure out cause and effect. But they do understand the "carrot and the stick"; THAT is the moral level they are at, okay? A 3 year old won't remember that if he runs into the street he is liable to be killed, but he might remember that the last time he did that, he got a sore bottom and stay on the sidewalk. A 5 year old may not understand why he should not push his 2 year old sister down the stairs (or drown her in the bathtub) but if he remembers that this kind of behaviour means a spanking for him, he won't do it.

Children are people, but they are not adults. The only way I could get my three year old nephew to eat his broccoli tonight was by baking cookies and bribing him with them. I didn't give him a lecture on nutrition, okay?

Spanking small children is not violence. Jabbing your heels into a horse to tell him to go faster is not violence. Whacking your dog in the nose to keep him from nosing around in whatever is not violence. It's training. And sometimes its the only damn way to get the message across.

And Furthermore

Here's wikipedia on Kolberg's scale of moral development: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_developement.

Meanwhile, little kids aren't going to go into their rooms and ponder whether or not theirs parents giving them a spanking is morally equivalent to their hitting a child in the face with a toy truck. Also, they are not going to confront their parents with the words, "I bit Sally Sue because you spanked me because I hit Joey with a truck."

Little kids don't "learn" violence. They ARE violent. (And occasionally cruel, as we should all remember from the schoolyard.) They never get beyond violence if they see that as an ordinary adult reaction in all circumstances. Half the power of the spanking is that it is UNUSUAL. It is undignified. It happens (or should happen) only to children who have done something cruel or dangerous. Children are taught that hitting is okay and normal only when they are allowed to go on doing it unpunished, or when they see their adult parents and relations hitting each other.

Well ...

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I'm not in favor of banning spanking, but having spent the last nine+ years as a father, I can say it is possible to raise a kid without spanking her even if neither of you are candidates for sainthood (OK, I will admit to spanking her once, but that was more out of stupid frustration on my part as well as fear that if she didn't stop slamming that French door RIGHT NOW, there'd be glass all over the place). I saw enough violence as a kid myself (in the family, not against me personally) to not want to employ it except as an absolute last resort (and yes, I realize there's a difference between a swat on the tush and a Natalie Merchant song, but the idea still bothers me).

Spare the Rhetoric...

To the Wikipedia link, there's a lot more useful background on the main spanking article.

Also, I'm more in Adam's vein. I have three sons -- an adult and two teens -- all of whom were raised without being hit. My choice is not to use corporal punishment and I know it is possible, but harder.

In the past couple of days, after reading a lot of responses ridiculing or reviling H3922, I've ended up much less in favor of spanking. (My rants are over at Marry in Massachusetts.) While that proposed law to make it a civil (not criminal) offense to spank kids will never pass, the discussion may lead some parents to wonder whether corporal punishment is really necessary for their offspring.

Different Children, Different Parents

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I think it might be helpful to consider that there are different children out there as well as different parents. I believe there could be good parents who sometimes spank children, as part of good parenting, as well as bad parents who spank children as part of bad parenting. I also believe there could be children who will respond to parents without spanking, as well as children who won't respond to parents without spanking. Trying to generalize our personal experience to fit everybody else's situation is an iffy proposition. I agree that it's not a good idea to teach children that power comes from physical domination and ability to use violence, and there are much better lessons we could teach them, but I doubt this is the message children get from an occasional spanking.

Personally, I'm not opposed to spanking. I believe it might be necessary for some children sometimes as part of good parenting, or at least be the best known option for some good parents at some times. Passing a law against spanking would probably not help any children. People who really beat their children are already breaking the law and getting away with it, and will not be affected. People who have to deal with particularly defiant children will have a tool removed from their hands and placed in their children's hands. We could expect a boom in 911 calls from tearful ten-year-olds, and a positive feeding frenzy at the DSS.

The main reason I have never spanked my child is that I've never felt I've needed to. I think I'm unlikely to feel it necessary any day soon. I also think that has more to do with him than with me. I'm an aggressive lout, but he's a little angel. However, I reserve my right to spank him if I ever find it necessary.

The whole idea of banning spanking is utterly ridiculous!

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It's ludicrous, I might add. Although I'm not a parent, I can see slapping or spanking a child as a last resort, when s/he is doing something extremely destructive and/or dangerous. However, if and when spanking is done for every little infraction or bad behaviour, then it not only loses its afffectiveness as a means of conveying a message that a child isn't supposed to do something because it's too dangerous/destructive, but excessive spanking is a form of abuse.

If a child runs out into the middle of a busy street, when there are lots of cars coming, then one or two firmly-administered smacks on the bottom is sufficient to convey the message to the child not to do that deed again.

Spankings are also a last resort when different forms of disciplining (i.e. times-out, etc.,) fail to work.