Perhaps the most controversial punishment is spanking. Many parents will agree that it is sometimes necessary to punish a child; however, some parents will argue that a child should never be spanked. Some parents think spanking is ineffective; others even think spanking is abusive. In these pages I hope to show that spanking is effective. And spanking is certainly not the same as abuse. Let me be clear about what I mean by spanking. A spanking is a series of smacks with the open hand or paddle on a child's bottom. Hitting a child on the face or any part of the body other than the bottom is not spanking. This site is a defense of spanking and only spanking. A spanking is painful, but it should never leave lasting marks like bruises or welts. A parent that slaps a child in the face or hits her until she is bruised is not spanking. That parent is being abusive and that is not what I am defending here. There is no excuse for parents abusing children, and those who defend spanking are not defending child abuse. However, we should not stop spanking because some parents cross the line into abuse. That is throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water.
Some may feel that while spanking is not abusive, it is cruel. After all, I have admitted that spankings are painful. Yes, spankings are painful; they must be. If spankings are to be effective, they must be painful enough for your child to want to avoid them. Most children cry when spanked; some cry hard. Parents don't like to hurt their children, so why should they spank. As we have seen, it is sometimes necessary to use punishment, and all punishments are painful. Having to pay a ticket for speeding is painful; staying after school is painful, not getting to go to a party because of misbehavior is painful. Punishments have to be painful if they are to work. (Remember punishments are unpleasant consequences that stop an unwanted behavior.) We should not stop spanking because it is painful. On that grounds, we would never use any punishment.
A parent must sometimes do unpleasant things for the child's own good. A parent may have to let a doctor give her child a shot. The shot is painful and makes the child cry, but it is necessary. A spanking is the same way. It is painful, and no parent wants to do it, but it is sometimes necessary. Letting misbehavior go unpunished would be even worse. For example, a parent does a child no favors by ignoring his lying. The child will grow up to be a chronic liar that no one will trust or want to be around. Is that better than giving a couple of spanking for lying early on?
I think that spanking is no more harmful than any other punishment. In many cases, I think it is preferable to other punishments such as time-out or grounding. The advantages of spanking are its intensity and its duration. There is no doubt that spanking is an intense (strong) punishment, stronger than sitting in a chair or staying home. But you need an intense punishment when other forms of punishment aren't getting the job done. You also need intense punishment for misbehavior that is particularly dangerous or flagrantly disregards your authority. I'll come back to topic of when to use spanking later, but for now, my point is that you sometimes need intense punishment, and spanking is about the strongest, most intense punishment there is. The second advantage of spanking is its duration--it's short. Unlike grounding, which can last a day or more, or time-outs, which can last for several minutes, a spanking is over in a few minutes or less. I don't think there is any point in dragging out punishment. It should be delivered swiftly and then the parent and child can move on. I am not suggesting that time-outs and grounding should never be used. I merely point out that spanking has the advantage of being finished when many other punishments are just beginning.
The Bottom Line: The intensity and duration of spanking make it preferable to many other forms of punishment.
This material is copyrighted by Paul J Preston, 2004-2012. All rights reserved.