Rethinking the spank
By Sophie Isbister, Staff Writer
Yeah, kids can be brats. We’ve all been in the grocery lineup behind the screaming cretin who just wants a comic book/Snickers bar/nap, and we’ve all thought, “That mother should give that kid something to really cry about.” It’s a knee-jerk reaction to want to smack something that’s bugging you. But resorting to spanking your child is not the answer to parenting challenges. Spanking is a form of corporal punishment that I think should be taken entirely out of the parenting playbook.
What are we telling kids when we hit them? We’re telling them that the person who is bigger and stronger, the person who can flip you over their knee and hit you, is the person that you should listen to. We reward violence through dominant force—something that children definitely should not learn to emulate. Children are sensitive, and while they may seem dumb (seriously, what kind of idiot is afraid of the dark?) they internalize so much of what happens to them at a young age.
Would you hit a fellow adult for being annoying or not listening to you? No, because in the real world we call that assault and you could go to prison. Many folks in the pro-spanking camp say that spanking can be okay if—instead of a fast and violent reaction—it is thought out beforehand and done in a deliberate fashion. But if you apply that same logic to your dealings with other adult humans, is assault any better if it’s premeditated? No, it’s worse. Just because they’re your children, in your care, and you’re in charge of them, doesn’t make them any less deserving of respect than that random guy walking down the street. In fact, I think it entitles them to a bit more respect.
Ruling with fear doesn’t work. It turns people into bullies. We all want to raise children who will stand up to bullies at school, but if their upbringing teaches them that doing the wrong thing will earn them a smack—and complaining about it will earn them another one—it will affect their self-esteem. It will reduce their ability to stand up to bullies outside the home. And it will perpetuate a destructive cycle of societally-sanctioned child abuse.
Spanking is mostly ineffective: when very young children are spanked, they’re just confused. When kids past the age of six are spanked, all they learn is to lie or avoid getting caught to avoid the punishment. A child isn’t going to take a violent, scary situation and sit back and calmly think, “This happened because I was being difficult before bedtime.” No, they’ll think, “I’m scared. I’m scared. I’m scared.” Their brains shut down and they don’t learn anything. That’s lazy parenting, and it sucks. It’s time for our already enlightened society to move further still away from the Dark Ages and finally give up the punishment impulse.
Just beat it
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
Beat your kids. No, really. This is a non-issue. My colleague’s column will attempt to sway you to the nonsensical nature of the el sensitivo culture we live in, but please be rational about this and hear me out.
Now before I start, a definition is probably in order. I define “spanking” (jokingly referred to as “beating”) as an occasional event in which a parent slaps their child’s bottom with a hand when the child has done something wrong.
I was spanked as a kid. Chances are you were too. Practically everyone I know experienced some sort of physical reinforcement by their parents. And this isn’t a bad thing. There are a growing number of busybodies out there who are up in arms anytime any sort of “abuse” is brought up, but keep in mind that these are the same people who strive to make children’s playgrounds safe by removing the fun bits. A train without a roof is safer since kids can’t climb on it. Slides aren’t as high so that the risk of injury is reduced should a child fall off. Sheesh. Go bubble wrap your kid and then leave the rest of us alone. Not that I’m majorly resentful or anything. The movement to eliminate any sort of “violence” by parents is from the classic overreacting crowd. I don’t want to label that segment of the population as insane, but they honestly are.
Spanking a child isn’t a serious offence. No actual harm comes to the “victim.” I’ve never heard of a kid breaking a bone or requiring stitches as a result of a brutal posterior tanning by a malevolent parent. Yes, the child will cry or feel some pain, but that’s the point. Spanking is a punishment, not a reward. It’s not supposed to feel good. It’s generally done to help the child understand that what they’ve done is wrong. Humans are a good deal like animals. If a dog touches something hot then they’ll back off. Why? Because it hurt. Likewise, if a kid misbehaves and receives pain in return, they won’t be as likely to repeat the action. Spanking is simply a means of educating your child.
As with anything, there are always a few bad apples who ruin it for the rest of us. Much like the idiotic teenagers who manage to horribly injure themselves with fireworks and, in doing so, kill everyone else’s fun (or at least make it an extreme hassle), abusive parents give a bad name to spanking. What one has to remember here is that the vast majority of parents don’t spank their child with the intention of doing them harm—they do it to help.
I’m not saying spank your kid every time they drop a fork, but remember that judicious spanking is a viable tool in your parenting arsenal.