Child abuse is a serious issue that the most people agree upon as a taboo. It is considered unethical and disgusting to ever harm a child. However, what qualifies as child abuse is not as easy to dictate. There has been discussion as to what qualifies as child abuse and if it is still unclear as to whether slapping or shoving a child is considered “child abuse” even if the actions do not cause physical injury (Child Abuse). The intentions of the parent as an abuser have also been out to question, is it still “Child Abuse” if the parent or guardian is doing it in the best interest for the child? This is where disciplinary spanking comes in. Before the 1900’s, spanking was the prefered punishment/disciplinary action for children. It was quick and helped the child learn their wrongs. It was not considered abuse because what happened in the home was considered a personal matter and was not the business of anyone but the family (Child Abuse). But does that still hold true today? Times have changed dramatically since then, and numerous new studies have shown that spanking children as punishment does not, in fact, help them learn but it often leads to abuse and severe mental consequences.
Meghan Leahy, a certified parent coach and parenting expert for the Washington Post, wrote in one of her articles that “Spanking can easily slip right into beatings. Being hit with objects, being hit in the face - these acts are another issue altogether. This is abuse” (Leahy). This is because like everyone else, parents are only human. Sometimes they lose control too, and that is the dangerous part. However, this not only fosters concern for the child’s mental health, but the adult’s as well. The mental strain it may cause the abusive party is just as great and could just as easily lead to depression and anxiety. In other words, spanking is not worth the risk of the mental health of both sides.
However, it does not end there. New research has discovered that later on in life, previously spanked children will associate violence with solving issues. An article by Ronald Pies stated that “The child who is often spanked learns that physical force is an acceptable method of problem solving”(Pies). This is extremely worrying because when these children grow up, they will automatically associate physical force with solving issues. This could lead to many difficult situations in their life once they enter into adulthood. Since they are no longer safe guarded by some sort of guardian they will be more aggressive and forceful because that’s how they think they must act for things to get done. This could cause them to end up in jail and will hinder them from living an enjoyable life. Not only that, but it will translate to their later generations. Children are very impressionable, not to mention they idolize their parents. If they think that physical force is the way things are done, they will follow.
But what about the act of spanking itself? Allies of spanking will argue that the act of spanking is really only a healthy swat to the bottom to remind children to behave. This is the case with Okey Chigbo, an editor for CA magazine. In an article he wrote, Chigbo said, “Causing children minor pain to correct a larger ill is neither immoral nor illogical” (Chigbo). However, many still disagree. The “minor pain,” as Chigbo describes it, may only be that; minor. Even so, the subsequent pain it can cause far outweighs that “minor pain”. Research has shown that “Spankings and physical punishments have been shown to cause anxiety and depression…it serves to hinder emotional growth and strength” (Leahy). So while the act of spanking may be “minor pain”, the pain it can cause afterwards is not worth risking for a child who could be disciplined by a much softer method.
In conclusion, spanking is not worth the risk. While it was an effective method before, the times are different and new research has revealed the dangers of disciplinary spanking. Parents should be advised to diverge from spanking and assume safer forms of discipline that will accomplish the same goal as spanking, without the danger it causes.
Chigbo, Okey. “Disciplinary Spanking is not Child Abuse”. Child Abuse, edited by Louise I. Gerdes, green Greenhaven Press, 2004. Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 23
Jan. 2017 Originally published as “Antispanking Activists should take a time out,” Next City, Summer green 1998
“Child Abuse”. Opposing Viewpoints Online, Gale, 2016. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed
24 Jan. 2017.
Leahy, Megan. “The Overwhelming evidence against spanking”. Washington Post, 5 Nov. 2015. averyOpposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 17 JAn. 2017.
Piew, Ronald W. “Spanking is Ineffective in the long term”. Opposing Viewpoints online Collection, averyGale, 2016. Opposing VIewpoints in Context, Accessed 31 JAn. 2017.