Volume 93, Issue 23

Thursday, October 7, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Spank 'em if you got 'em?

Spank 'em if you got 'em?

Yet another study has been done examining spanking as a form of discipline. Work from a researcher at McMaster University points to a correlation between drug and alcohol abuse and parents spanking their children on a regular basis.

The real story lies not in these results, but in the publicity this issue has been given over the past few years. The real research should be focused on what effects these studies have on the collective psyches of North American parents.

Spanking as a form of discipline has become taboo in today's society. Parents who feel the need to spank their children are seen as barbaric, abusive tyrants who are leading their children down a path of violence and pain.

In our politically correct times, spanking has become one of the things blacklisted by "experts" and questioned by the media. Although open debate on the topic should be encouraged, a sweeping generalization of spanking as a bad thing could cause more harm than the odd butt smacking.

All of the negative publicity spanking has received has produced a trend of leniency when disciplining children. Even in cases where children display disciplinary problems and may require a spanking, parents may be fearful of being seen as a monster who doesn't love their child. These worries stem directly from the debatable results of such studies.

When all the rhetoric is pushed aside, it must be acknowledged that in some cases, spanking may be required to discipline a child and teach them the difference between right and wrong. While some children only require a verbal reprimand, some may be in need of a stricter response every once in awhile.

Many children will learn to respect authority and act properly, after going through the horrors and embarrassment of a time-out, but for some children this simply does not work. As a result, parents must fight the urge to take research results as doctrine and avoid becoming too lenient with their children.

A child who is not disciplined at a young age will not respond to a parent's attempt at guidance at a later date. When this child is older, more opportunities to commit dangerous acts become available. A parent should have the freedom to decide whether their child is learning how to act appropriately and if they choose to, use spanking as a means to point their child in the right direction.

This is not to say parents should abuse their position of physical power – concern should always be kept for potential psychological damage. However, in the end, spanking, when used appropriately and without excessive force, is far less dangerous than an undisciplined youth who acts without fear of consequence. The majority of parents should be trusted to decide what is best for their family, without the fear of being spanked by society.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999