Today’s discussion will focus on the spanking debate found here. I am choosing to engage in this debate because I firmly believe that spanking is wrong. Because I know what side I am on in this debate, I am interested in learning why some people are in support of it. I hope you find my discussion engaging and thought provoking. Let’s get started!
I found both sides of the argument on Debate.org convincing. However, I found that RyddianDynia (Con) provided more convincing evidence to support his side. For example, he brought up the controversial situation involving NFL player, Adrian Peterson. I was not sure what had happened so I looked it up on Google. According to Gregg Doyal of Indystar.com, Peterson did not discipline his child. Instead, he:
…beat the hell out of him, not with his hands but – maybe this is worse? – with a stick. He beat him on his ankles and legs and then kept going north, all the way to the kid’s back, with a stop in the mid-region where the stick left marks on the child’s genitals.
That’s not discipline. That’s disgusting.
I could not agree more. Now, I understand that we are discussing and debating spanking, not abuse. What Peterson did to his son is on a whole other level. However, we should ask ourselves: When do we cross a line? When does spanking become child abuse? If you hit your son and/or daughter repeatedly on the butt with a belt, is that not considered abuse? Should that kind of behavior be excused because a child was misbehaving? In my opinion, it should not. It still seems like abuse.
Some states are taking spanking more seriously and are not in support of it. For example, a Texas court sentenced five-years probation to Rosalina Gonzales after she plead guilty to the charge of Injury of a Child for spanking her then, nearly 2 year old daughter. In Calgary, Canada, Mark Anthony Harris was convicted of assault after he spanked his 9 year old daughter with a belt. He was sentenced to 9 months in jail.
I am now going to share my personal beliefs on this issue. I remember being spanked by my father when I was a child but then he never did it again. I am not sure what made him stop but he did. I grew up to be very well-behaved and unaggressive, and I did not rebel or disrespect my parents, probably 90% of the time. That 10% is missing because let’s be honest, we all went against our parent’s wishes or misbehaved every once in a while. No one is perfect. Anyways, my argument is that I did not need to be spanked in order to turn out “good.” Furthermore, there could be a link between aggression and spanking: “These studies found that while more aggressive children were spanked more frequently, spanking increased their aggression levels…” Perhaps this could explain why I am not an aggressive person.
Because I was not spanked as a child or saw my parents spank my siblings, I do not know why spanking is necessary. Also, I will not spank my own child(ren) if I decide to have them one day. In my eyes, hitting a child is not acceptable and I would much rather explain to my son or daughter why their behavior was wrong, or why they are being put on time-out. Eliza Cook and Kimberly Kopko from Cornell University College of Human Ecology (Department of Policy Analysis and Management) says that researchers have found that time-outs yield same short-term compliance as spanking:
One study analyzed the difference between spanking and time-outs, when asking children to comply with 30 various commands from their mothers (Roberts & Powers, 1990). The researchers found that when baseline differences were taken into account, spanking was not more effective than time-outs (Gershoff & Grogan-Kaylor, 2013).
It is evident then, that there are other effective ways to punish or raise children without using violence. It is also evident that Conspiracyrisk (Pro) did not do much research because he or she says that spanking is “an effective way of punishing children, that when kept within limits, is perfectly acceptable.”
Conspiracyrisk also says that “Spanking can be used as a helpful way to teach even more so if you show your love for you child after the punishment…” He or she respond to critics saying that spanking has a negative effect on children with, “If you follow this pattern, your child will be less likely to be negatively affected by the punishment.” However, one research study found that children report feelings of fear, anger, and sadness after being spanked (Dobbs, Smith, & Taylor, 2006). Furthermore, even if parents take time to explain why a child should behave, it is difficult to internalize a parent’s explanation because of the feelings children experience after being spanked (Grusec & Goodnow, 1994). In other words, it can be frightening and confusing for a child to be hit by a parent who they love and depend on (Cook and Kopko).
I am also against spanking because studies show that it can alter and harm the brain. Therefore, children can get external AND internal scars. According to a Canadian study conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, “…spanking may reduce the brain’s grey matter, the connective tissue between brain cells” (Molly Castelloe, Ph.D). Sarah Kovak from CNN.com also shares the same information: “Researchers found children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders.” What is grey matter, you ask? Grey matter “is the key to the brain’s ability to learn self-control” (Kovac).
Conspiracyrisk believes that spanking is effective because the effects are immediate. Castelloe says that “spanking gets quick results, but it doesn’t reduce the undesired behavior.” Although the effects may be immediate and a child will stop misbehaving, that does not mean they will not misbehave again. Furthermore, even if a child stops misbehaving, it does not necessarily mean they know why they are being hit or what they should be doing instead, “which is the real motive behind discipline” (Kovac).
To wrap things up, I would like to conclude my argument by saying that violence is not the answer. I also believe that we should not put our hands on anyone, even if it is out of love. If we spank our children, we are teaching them that hitting someone is acceptable because they did something wrong (in our eyes). I would never want my future son or daughter to think like that. I feel it is an obligation to raise our children to be non-violent, compassionate human beings. When my father stopped spanking me after that one instance, he stopped a harmful cycle of violence. And because of that, I will never start one.
By Sarah Jaihe Lee