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Spank Out Day

Apparently April 30 is Spank Out Day USA.  It was initiated in 1998 to give widespread attention to the need to end corporal punishment of children and to promote non-violent ways of teaching children appropriate behavior. As my contribution, I offer up these two posts:

  • Best anti-spanking resources:  A summary of and link to some of the best anti-spanking arguments and research on the Web.

  • My discipline spectrum: A description of the type of discipline I think is most effective and that I try to practice as much as possible.

Take some time today to talk to people about the issues surrounding corporal punishment.
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Reader Comments (13)

I have many of my own opinions about this, but I think the whole post about how all felons were spanked, and all "good" people were not is pure fiction. That's just too simple of an explanation. Where is the science behind that? I've known a lot of really good people who feared the belt, and a lot of awful people who never feared the hand of their parents. But since that is purely anecdotal, I don't think it flies as "reasoning."

To me, it's really common sense. Hitting is not a good way to teach a kid not to hit, and I always hate the idea of spanking. I was severely beaten growing up (I, btw, am not a felon, a child molestor, or dumb.) However, there have definitely been circumstances (though very rare) in which my child has gotten a spanking. I'm not particularly proud of those times, and I wish they didn't have to occur. It definitely hurt me a LOT more than it hurt him, but when time-outs, and reasoning, and counting, etc. all failed, and the boy still walked over and hurt his brother out of spite, it was time to snap him out of the behavior with a swift swat on the behind. Was it a knee-jerk reaction? Certainly. Was it an adult temper tantrum? Probably. But, he cut it out.

Of course, I could always spiral into a different guilt trip about how he probably hits his brother because he's seeking attention from me that he's not getting because I work all day and sit in class all night, and boy, what a bad mom I am, trying my hardest to take care of my kids, etc. etc. But instead, I just think of all the kids I know who got a swat when their parents ran out of other options with them, and how they're not felons or rapists now.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheFeministBreeder

I just posted on my blog today about spanking in a biblical context and I didn't even know today was Spank Out Day! Must have been on my mind for a reason. If you want to see how the bible DOES NOT promote spanking, check out my blog post.

I love your continuum of discipline.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPaige


With regards to your comment that "the whole post about how all felons were spanked, and all “good” people were not is pure fiction": I don't think that is what they are trying to say. They are saying that there is there is a statistically higher rate of spanking among criminals and statistically lower rate of spanking among non-criminals (same as a c-section birth is riskier than a vaginal birth, but it doesn't mean everyone that has a c-section ends up with blood clots, a hysterectomy or death).

There is also a difference, of course, between parents who spank occasionally and regret it (and possibly did it as a knee-jerk reaction because they too were spanked) and those who habitually use spanking as the routine way of disciplining their children.

With regards to the "science", the http://nospank.net/pt2009.htm" rel="nofollow">article does quote one study with regards to criminal behaviour:

In 1940, researchers Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck began their landmark study of delinquent and nondelinquent boys. They discovered how certain early childhood influences cause children to develop antisocial, violent behaviors. They showed that the first signs of delinquency often appear in children as young as three—long before children come into contact with influences outside the home. The Gluecks showed that parents who fail to manage their children calmly, gently and patiently, but instead rely on physical punishment, tend to produce aggressive, assaultive children. The more severe and the earlier the mistreatment, the worse the outcome. The Gluecks also found that the lowest incidence of antisocial behavior is associated with children who are reared from infancy in attentive, supportive, nonviolent families.

Again, it is about a habit of spanking. Not about occasionally running out of other options. Personally, I hope that I will never spank my kids. But I don't think that if I did spank them once or twice that it would turn them into felons or rapists. I do think it would break some trust and respect in our relationship though that I would have to work to repair. That happens too when I lose my patience and end up screaming instead of being calm.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

I think the part that makes it seem bogus to me is (I'm totally paraphrasing cause I don't have time to go back through the links to find the quote) it said tha "90% of parents spank their toddlers." And it says that anyone who doesn't end up a felon "just got lucky."

So, it's pure "luck" that not 90% of people are rapists and felons? That math is ludicrous. That whole statement is hilariously bias. That particular study doesn't call out the difference between an occasional swat because a parent is at he end of their rope, or ongoing physical abuse. I think there is a massive difference between the two.

It's like those people who tout breastfeeding as the cure-all and say it will make your kid smarter. Come on. I'm a lactivist and even I know that's not true. If we're real about it, then people will be more likely to listen.

This is great topic... and I'm glad you brought it up. It's helpful to hear about other parent's styles of discipline. I don't think any of us have it 100% figured out.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheFeministBreeder

I agree, TheFeministBreeder.

@ phdinparenting: There is a VAST difference between kids being spanked and kids getting the sh** kicked out of them. If statistics show that more criminals were "spanked," it is far more likely that they were beaten as children and not merely disciplined with a swat on the behind when no other option worked.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBunny

Also, glad you posted this topic; I'm looking forward to hearing what other people have to say. I thoroughly enjoy your blog.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBunny

@Bunny True, but it becomes a slippery slope too. After a while, the light swat on the behind doesn't work, so you step it up to a harder swat on the behind, then maybe something more...If the spanker has a history of being abused, then there is an even greater chance of that happening too. Same as how many people with histories of alcoholism in their family cannot drink at all because it just leads them down a slippery slope (others can though and are fine). Personally, there are many reasons that I choose not to spank my kids. The potential of them turning into criminals isn't the first or most important one.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

If I can offer my perspective, as a person who grew up in an incredibly abusive household - there was no escalation. The people who beat me did not start as loving parents who swatted their children. They were violent individuals who displayed physical aggression toward anyone and everyone. My mother stabbed my step-father with a pear knife while she was holding me when I was 3. I remember it like it was yesterday. I mostly lived with my grandparents, and my grandfather was a vicious man who would beat me any time he felt like it. Again, it wasn't about discipline. It was my punishment for walking in front of the TV, or for bringing him a glass of water that wasn't cold enough, or for simply being in the same room when he had a bad day. This wasn't a loving-parent situation.

But still... look at me. I'm not a tyrant. I love my kids more than anything in the world and I treat them with an incredible amount of respect. I do believe in free will, and I chose to break that cycle. I believe everyone has that choice.

I just think that people who beat their kids are a whole different breed of person than someone who has once-upon-a-time resorted to swatting. And if someone is looking for an excuse to start beating their kids, none of this will matter to them. Of course, this was only MY experience with it.

April 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTheFeministBreeder

Spanking is a very silly thing indeed, and *should* be against the law. After all, it's totally illogical that it is legal to smack a child, whatever the excuse, but it's against the law to hit another adult. If it's acceptable for a parent to spank, swat, or whatever terminology they use to make spanking acceptable in their mind, then I'm of the opinion that I should be able to smack every moronic adult I run into on a daily basis, of which there are plenty.

Mothers who spank their children should also not mind being slapped by their husbands either when their husband feels they've done something wrong, or when he feels angry at them about something.

Hitting children is wrong and there is no justification for it whatsoever. Parents should use logic to bring up their children and not emotions and hitting. End of story.

May 2, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfrostatmidnight

I think your argument about the slippery slope is a good one. While the research showing a link between spanking and bad outcomes for kids (e.g., delinquency, mental health, etc) is not real strong, there is some pretty strong evidence that spanking just doesn't work. It may work for immediate compliance, but in the long run it doesn't help a child learn WHY the behavior is bad and so they don't internalize the value you're trying to teach them. I think this is where the slippery slope argument comes into play. Because spanking is usually not a good long-term form of discipline, the parent has to keep ramping it up.

May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

Child buttock-battering for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

I think the reason why television shows like "Supernanny" and "Dr. Phil" are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

Plain Talk About Spanking
by Jordan Riak,

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
by Tom Johnson,

by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research with the recommended reads-visit www.nospank.net

Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics,
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
Center For Effective Discipline,
PsycHealth Ltd Behavioral Health Professionals,
Churches' Network For Non-Violence,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Parenting In Jesus' Footsteps,
Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

October 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPDeverit

[...] There have been a couple different posts that have prompted this (PhD in Parenting’s Spank Out Day, Womanist Musings’ post about some asshole who slapped a 2-year-old in the face at Walmart) [...]

I have raised two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, a passive and an active one, and never, not once raised my hand to them. They both respect me and adore me. They both are very active in their community and both gainfully employed. I give them the gift of a non-violence home. I am very proud of the chose I made to break the chain of violence.

October 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterritorres

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