Nowadays, the contemporary society debates about the best ways and methods of child-rearing with account of various psychological and sociological researches. There is plenty of advice and programs in different books for future and young parents on how they should raise their children in order not to cause some psychological traumas and to establish such relationships when parents and children can understand each other, which will help the offspring become later decent members of the community. The most controversial issue in this respect is the one of spanking, in particular, there is a wide-spread idea that children should not be spanked in order to discipline them for a negative behavior. Spanking has become the divisive factor among psychologists, sociologists, and common parents representing different generations and cultures who cannot decide unanimously whether spanking is the utmost evil as described by the most eloquent opponents or whether it is acceptable to some extent under some peculiar circumstances. This issue has two opposites. The first one includes opponents who are completely against spanking even in extreme circumstances and in the mildest form. The second one consists of vehement proponents who consider spanking to be the only effective method of punishing children even for minor misbehavior. There are also people who stay in between these two extreme views. Spanking should be considered as a consistent method of upbringing children that presupposes corporeal punishments that are constant and not accidental physical abuse practiced by parents with a malicious intent. Thus, having analyzed the issue from different perspectives on the basis of available literature and empirical studies, it becomes evident that spanking is not an efficient and advisable way of raising children and punishing them for various misdeeds and misbehavior since it has more disadvantages than advantages and may result in adverse consequences in the future for people who have been subject to such treatment in childhood.
Spanking is used by parents to teach children discipline, but the connection between spanking and children’s good behavior has not been proved. Hence, “discipline is a way of teaching children the restraint and values necessary to become competent and independent adults”, which is impossible to achieve through spanking as it instills in children the sense of being guilty and not good enough (McCoy). In addition, children may develop the feeling of suppressed anger that is manifested in their adulthood through the violent behavior towards their own children. Moreover, “according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an effective discipline system contains three vital elements: a learning environment characterized by positive, supportive parent-child relationships; a strategy for teaching and reinforcing positive behaviors; a strategy for decreasing and eliminating undesired behaviors” (McCoy). Spanking and physical violence can hardly be deemed as positive behaviors that should be transferred to and adopted by children. Furthermore, it is hypocritical when parents punish their children through spanking, for instance, for hitting someone or engaging in a fight with other children. This way, children only replicate behavioral patterns they observe at home. Besides, such children may assume that physical violence is the only way of resolving conflicts and punishing other for their misdeeds, which may lead to serious problems in their adult life. As a method of instilling discipline, spanking cannot foster supportive and trusting parent-child relationships as a child who is often spanked is likely to be afraid of sharing its problems and secrets with parents, which may give rise to distrust and fear. The worst part is that many children raised in the authoritative environment adopt this way of upbringing in their own families as they do not know other ways of living and building a family. They suppose that if they have survived such treatment, then their children will be fine as well.
Spanking should be abolished as it breeds violence and emotional problems, while definitely not improving children’s behavior. The overwhelming majority of proponents believe that “if we don’t spank children, they’ll grow up rotten” and even sometimes refer to the Bible’s lines “Spare the rod and spoil the child” (Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center). Both these ideas have been proven wrong by numerous researches conducted in countries that abandoned and banned spanking long ago. For instance, spanking has been acknowledged as an illegal action similarly to physical abuse in such countries as Sweden, Norway, Austria, Denmark, and some others with some states in the USA following their example. Although the critics of such legislation thought that children would grow up unruly and violent due to the lack of discipline that should have been taught through spanking, all empirical studies have proved this idea wrong and inaccurate (Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center). On the contrary, Swedish young generation enjoys lower levels of violence and has better comprehension of the notion of discipline as “Children are receiving more discipline since the law in Sweden passed. Parents think twice and tend to rely more on verbal conflict resolution to manage their children” (Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center). Conflicts and problems are more efficiently resolved through talking and negotiating than trough hitting children as they can understand their misbehavior and learn a vital lesson once they are explained why it is wrong. If they are simply beaten for their misdeed, they will only learn to hide and lie to their parents about future misdeeds, as well as covering their actions in order not to be punished. In terms of references to the Bible’s endorsement of spanking, representatives of various churches now voice their criticism of and disagreement with this idea as they suppose that everything depends on the interpretation of the sacred book. According to them, it is explicitly stated nowhere in the Bible that parents should spank children for disobedience.
In addition to severe emotional and psychological effects of spanking, physical outcomes and health problems should be considered as a reason to ban spanking in the USA in particular and all over the world in general. Parents may merely underestimate their force and hit a child too strongly, so that serious traumas may emerge.
Proponents of spanking fail to acknowledge existence and effectiveness of alternatives to corporal punishment, which have been proved to be perhaps more time-consuming, but certainly less damaging and more efficient in the long run. Talking is one of such alternatives. Children are sentient beings and can understand that they have committed something wrong if parents explain this to them. Besides, once they realize why their actions are wrong, they are less likely to resort to such behavior in the future.