A Corporal Punishment Fallacy

August 26th, 2010 by Dionna | 72 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Gentle Discipline Ideas, Successes, and Suggestions, Gentle/Positive Discipline, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

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There is a “Likey” going around Facebook that says: “I’d rather go to jail for spanking my kids than for them to go because I didn’t.”

Allow me to present the fallacy of such an assertion:

  • Eighty percent of prisoners in the United States were abused as children or raised in violent homes.1
  • The more children are spanked, the more anger they report as adults, the more likely they are to spank their own children, the more likely they are to approve of hitting a spouse, and the more marital conflict they experience as adults.2
  • Spanking has been associated with higher rates of physical aggression, more substance abuse, and increased risk of crime and violence when used with older children and adolescents.3
  • Children who are spanked frequently at age 3 are more likely to be aggressive when they’re 5, even when you account for possible confounding factors. Signs of aggression included behaviors such as arguing or screaming; cruelty, bullying or meanness to others; destroying things; fighting and frequently threatening others. Even minor forms of corporal punishment increase the risk for child aggressive behavior.4
  • Actions causing pain such as spanking can acquire a positive value rather than the intended adversive value. Children who expect pain may actually seek it through escalating misbehaviors.5
  • Spanking is no more effective as a long-term strategy than other approaches, and reliance on spanking as a discipline approach makes other discipline strategies less effective to use.6

Perhaps the Likey should read “I’d rather teach my children there are ways to deal with anger that don’t involve violence, than for my children to be at higher risk of aggression, substance abuse, and a life of crime because I spanked them.”

Photo credit: shadgross

  1. Child Abuse Statistics. And while not all incidences of “spanking” legally qualify as “abuse,” the use of corporal punishment may make the possibility of later abuse more likely. Studies have shown that parents who spank are at risk of escalating the pattern later. Add to this the fact that children who are spanked may actually start to seek pain, which may result in harsher and harsher punishment as misbehavior increases. Perhaps more telling is the fact that approximately 85% of adults expressed moderate to high anger, remorse, and agitation while punishing their children. Striking a child in anger or in an emotionally-charged state means that the adult is less likely to be in control, increasing the chances that the punishment will cross the line into abuse. American Academy of Pediatrics, Guidance for Effective Discipline (see also studies cited in article)
  2. Guidance for Effective Discipline (see also studies cited in article)
  3. Guidance for Effective Discipline (see also studies cited in article)
  4. Tulane Researchers Find Spanking Can Make Children More Aggressive Later; Mothers’ Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children’s Aggressive Behavior
  5. Guidance for Effective Discipline (see also studies cited in article)
  6. Guidance for Effective Discipline (see also studies cited in article)

72 Responses to:
"A Corporal Punishment Fallacy"

  1. cjm

    Quick reply.
    Dont get it twisted
    No Spanking is not the NEGATIVE data pool… asking people who are already in PRISON is the negative pool.

    You knew what I meant so do not twist its meaning as I explained it (what was the negative) VERY clearly

  2. cjm

    You cited it… You cited it as the opening statement in this blog.
    You did not refute it and in fact you go on to support others that are agreeing with the data you provided.

    Quote:
    “I Didn’t write it. I was simply pointing out the fact that people who think that spanking is a sure-fire way to avoid prison are incorrect, as the majority of prisoners were, in fact, spanked.”
    Again, you cite the same data, which as I stated is INCORRECT, you are surveying the NEGATIVE data points, IE the individuals in prison of course you are going to have a negative result.
    You could get similar results (which would be incorrect) if you posed the statement.
    90% of the people in prison have tattoos, ergo, getting a tattoo causes people to go to prison.; Which is totally wrong.
    The CORRECT question would be.
    How many people who were spanked…. Ended up IN prison? You don’t ask the people that are already IN prison.

    QUOTE:
    “We all deserve to be free from physical assault, in whatever form it takes. Children the world over learn and grow into caring, productive adults without being hit/spanked/abused, it is up to us as parents/adults to recognize when we are on the verge of degrading a child (by yelling or spanking) and stopping ourselves.”

    You trying to be center of the line here but your true feelings are showing, in as you are equating spanking to physical assault. This is patently False, and as I said, it exposes your true agenda in this blog.

    In this on quote you reinforce your opposition to spanking. Period. You don’t say, spanking when needed, or yelling WHEN necessary. You imply not doing it (either) at all. Therefore you have taken on the position of it never to be done. The result is you have responding individuals that are agreeing with your position. This is particularly evident in your support of the conclusions of the tragic individual who has obviously been abused, and is suffering for it.
    You can’t throw a stone and then hide your hands.
    You are saying implying that children should not be spanked under any circumstance.

    Where does you position end???
    Sooner or later persons of your thought are going to assume that even talking harshly to a child will somehow damage his psyche… when will you outlaw, or attempt to outlaw that?

    Talking harshly, and yes even spanking are tools… 2 of MANY tools that are available to a parent when raising a Child. Tools that should be used when the conditions warrant…
    A carpenter does not discard the hammer because someone says it assaults the nail, and he does not use a hammer when a screwdriver is the appropriate tool. Other tools include timeouts- punishments, and revocations of freedoms.

    Parents need tools, yes more tools to raise children, I would suggest parents learn more tools to minimize the instances when spanking, and harsh talking is necessary. However I would not take from the tool chest.
    While you would eliminate the tool altogether

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I think we are misunderstanding each other. Are you reading this statement: “Eighty percent of prisoners in the United States were abused as children or raised in violent homes,” as meaning that eighty percent of children who are spanked will end up in prison? If so, that is not what the statistic is saying. It is simply saying that 80% of prisoners were spanked as children.

      This post was written as a response to a meme going around Facebook that implied children who are not spanked tend to end up in trouble with the law. I was illustrating why that the assumption is incorrect – because children who are spanked also end up in prison.

      Do you see where I am coming from?

      As far as this part of your comment: “You trying to be center of the line here but your true feelings are showing, in as you are equating spanking to physical assault. This is patently False, and as I said, it exposes your true agenda in this blog.
      In this on quote you reinforce your opposition to spanking. Period. You don’t say, spanking when needed, or yelling WHEN necessary. You imply not doing it (either) at all. Therefore you have taken on the position of it never to be done.”

      You’re right – my position is that spanking is assault. Hitting is hitting is hitting. I don’t apologize for the fact that I’d love to see corporal punishment outlawed. As one of the images at Natural Parents Network says, “children in more than twenty countries are growing up without being hit. Studies indicate youth did not become more unruly, under socialized, or self-destructive following the ban.” You can see the studies at http://www.stophitting.com (Durrant, Joan E. (2000). “Trends in Youth Crime and Well-Being Since the Abolition of Corporal Punishment in Sweden”, Youth and Society. Youth and Society, Volume 31, 437-455.)

      Let’s put it another way – are you aware that in the U.S., husbands used to be legally allowed to hit their wives as “punishment”? What was “appropriate” depended on the arresting officer, the judge who heard the case, the jury involved in deciding guilt, etc. So where did the “appropriate” punishment end – was it a slap on the bottom for a burnt dinner? A good hard shove into a door frame for losing the week’s grocery money? A black eye for a perceived wandering eye?

      The answer is that none of them were appropriate. It’s not appropriate – ever – to hit your spouse in the name of “correction.”

      You can say the same things about “spanking” and kids. Is striking a child with a wooden spoon appropriate? With a switch from a tree? On the bare bottom with your hand?

      All of these things occur, because it is impossible to legislate what types of assault are “appropriate.” The easier answer – and the one that teaches children the most useful knowledge about life – is to not hit kids. There are other ways to convey information to a child that do not involve hitting.

      There are many, many resources you can look into on why spanking is harmful to children, why there are other more effective parenting methods, and research to back up both.

      It sounds like this is a topic that hits home pretty hard for you. I hope that you can find some peace with whatever decision you choose for your own parenting journey.

      Please be aware that I encourage respectful debate and comments, and I do not have time or energy to argue just for argument’s sake. If you do not agree with the majority of what you can read on this site, you are free to go elsewhere to find views that are more in line with your own. Otherwise, I welcome you to stay, to converse, and to learn about other viewpoints. And I’ll be very blunt – I don’t care to learn about any pro-spanking arguments. I’ve heard them, and I’m comfortable with my position that there are healthier ways to parent than by hitting.

  3. cjm

    Statement from your lead in data:
    ” the use of corporal punishment may make the possibility of later abuse more likely”
    A statement based on MAY, and likely, is not a statement based on facts, and should not be relied on as a statement to base action upon.

  4. cjm

    Eighty percent of prisoners in the United States were abused as children or raised in violent homes

    I understand very well what it is saying
    It’s Your implied conclusions with which i take exception. (that being if you spank yo child then your child will end up in prison)

    “I don’t care to learn about any pro-spanking arguments. I’ve heard them, and I’m comfortable with my position that there are healthier ways to parent than by hitting.”

    Agreed, However, like it or not, as a publisher of a Blog, you have put your opinion out there for scrunity, and opposing thought. that is the cost of putting your opinion out there.
    Secondly, You can feel quite comfortable, however with YOUR comfort, come the “comfort” (your words) of those who choose a different paths for the same goal. Do not attmpt to legislate to me, or other that disagree with that YOUR particular method is the be all and end all.
    You did mention “legislation in one of your posts)

    “I’m not sure why anyone would choose to argue with treating others with respect and kindness. That is what flies in the face of logic. Using force and violence against children? That is a sign of weakness.”

    First of all I am not weak, and I, and I believe others would resent your implication that I am somehow deficient. Your problem is that you automatically equate spanking with force and violence. when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

    No one wants to abuse a child.
    Spanking is NOT abuse, and the minute that those of your thought cross the line in to that thinking (that all spanking is abuse), the implied accusation is that they are weak, (your words) or abusive (my words).

    On the other hand, “I” can see some of your points,and have actually utilize some of the methods you promote. however I did spank when necessary, and your labeling me as (actually)weak, or abusive(implied). Pretty much ends the conversation because it puts me in the position of actually trying to defend the indefensible.

    Child Abuse

    I will end this conversation with this….
    I spank… But I am not a child abuser.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      “It’s Your implied conclusions with which i take exception. (that being if you spank yo child then your child will end up in prison)”
      That is not at all a conclusion I tried to imply, and I’ve attempted to clarify that with you already.

      ” Do not attmpt to legislate to me, or other that disagree with that YOUR particular method is the be all and end all.”
      I’m not sure how my writing is an attempt to “legislate” anyone. You have chosen to read my opposing viewpoint. You’ve spoken your piece. We can agree to part ways peacefully.

      “Your problem is that you automatically equate spanking with force and violence. when that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
      Hitting a defenseless child is not at all associated with force or violence? We can agree to disagree on this point.

  5. cjm

    Please forgive the spelling errors, as I was in a slight rush and wanted to get my response in before I left for the day.
    You may have the last and final word, as it seems as though you have a very low opinion of my line of thought, reasoning.

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