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First and foremost, I will define three key words to this write-up before I begin. Spank; to slap or smack (someone) on the bottom. Spanking; a series of slaps on the bottom with the open hand, to punish a child etc. And then we will define Abuse; misuse, ill-treatment, an instance of injustice or corruption. Is spanking really child abuse? That is the question I will mainly address in this write-up.

Spanking is a form of discipline, and sometimes necessary to get your point across to a child. The bible even addresses this matter in Proverbs 23:13,14(New World Translation) which reads; 13. Do not hold back discipline from the mere boy. In case you beat him with the rod, he will not die. 14. With the very rod you yourself should beat him, that you may deliver his very soul from Sheol itself. The rod in these scriptures is used to symbolize parental authority over children. Now I am not a bible thumper, and am not a fan of organized religion. I do however respect the bible as being inspired by God, and useful for handling everyday problems.

Picture this, you are in a public place and your child starts acting up, or has decided to throw a tantrum. What do you do? Do you stand there and watch your child be completely unreasonable and disgraceful? Or do you discipline him/her? When I say discipline I do not mean simply physical discipline, you can also give verbal discipline. But what happen when your child disregards your verbal rebukes? That is where the spanking enters the picture. But you as parents need to make it clear why your child is recieving the spanking. And always tell them you love them afterwards, and never make them feel unloved or abused. There are people out there, who feel that swatting your child on the rear is absolutely evil and abusive. Is this view reasonable?

I believe in the long run, spanking gets your much needed discipline instilled in you child’s mind, and teaches them to be mannerly and polite, knowing right and wrong. Or at least knowing what you teach them to be right and wrong. Spanking is not always appropriate, and I know that my parents seldom disciplined me in public, with the exception of extreme cases when I was really being a stubborn ass.

What about over doing it? Is that possible with spanking? In one word, yes. There has to be a balance for discipline to work correctly. In one extreme you can over-discipline, on the other hand, there could be a seriouse lack of discipline. It is up to the parent to decide what is necessary discipline for their child. I do believe a lot of parents, due to frustration or lack of love mainly, over use spanking as a method of discipline. Is that abuse? Well if you'll recall the definition of abuse, you’ll remember the word misuse. That is where spanking becomes abusive. When they misuse this method of discipline. This may lead your children to think you have a lack of respect for their emotional needs, as well as disrespect for life in general. And can sever the link between parent and child very abruptly. The bottom line is this, it is solely up to the parent to decide where the line between simple, and deserved discipline lies, and that of abuse. Do not conform to anybody elses way of thinking, because they don't know whats best for your child, you do. It is YOUR child, and YOUR responsibility. You should raise them in the manner YOU see fit, but you have to watch out, because the line between physical discipline and abuse isn’t far off. Just be reasonable when disciplining, sometimes giving your child a good swat on the butt isn’t the answer. Sometimes, however, it is. And always make sure they understand what they did was wrong, and always tell them "I love you".

I've been a parent of two sons for nineteen years so allow me to weigh in on this issue. Spanking or any other kind of corporal punishment is inappropriate for any reason. While physical punishment may halt the behavior at the moment it fails to teach the child what was wrong with their behavior, some children will even view this as attention and deliberately misbehave. This can lead to increasingly frequent and harsher spanking which can exceed the "reasonable force" threshold and become abuse.

According to the Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse, "85% of all cases of physical abuse result from some form of over-discipline through the use of corporal punishment". Each year about 44 Canadian children are known to have been killed by family members; 35 of them by parents. The figures for the United States are probably about 10 times higher. It may teach a child that might makes right and that it's okay to use force against a weaker person--violence as a way of behaving is a learned response. A study at the University of New Hampshire, released in 1998, found that spanking children slows down their intellectual development. The message to some children is that a parent or other loved and trusted adult is prepared to induce pain and even do physical harm to force unquestioning obedience. Although corporal punishment is still legal there is little remaining support for it among specialists.

It took me a long time to to reach my parenting style and philosophy. My husband spanked, but very rarely and his parenting philosophy is different from mine as I'm sure everyone's is. For personal reasons I was committed to finding a way to discipline my children without using corporal punishment and you may find some of these ideas useful. I read as much as I could about child psychology; Alfred Adler comes to mind. I took eight years of parenting classes at my church (Methodist) from Dr. Sol Grossman who believe it or not is Jewish. Just about anything by Dr. Kevin Leman fits my parenting style perfectly. I like his ideas about logical and natural consequences. Natural consequences are those things that happen as an outcome of an action. For example a child sticks his hand in hot water and gets scalded. James Dobson's Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours and Dr. Benjamin Spock's book Baby and Child Care are useful sources too.

Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Pastor says about the Bible and spanking:

"The much-touted religious argument to support corporal punishment is built upon a few isolated quotes from the Book of Proverbs. Using the same kind of selective reading, one could just as easily cite the Bible as an authority for the practice of slavery, the rigid suppression of women, polygamy, incest and infanticide. It seems to me that the brutal and vindictive practice of corporal punishment cannot be reconciled with the major themes of the New Testament which teach love and forgiveness and a respect for the beauty and dignity of children, and which overwhelmingly reject violence and retribution as a means of solving human conflicts."

Discipline is the most important job a parent can do in their child's life. Children that misbehave are kids who are searching for boundaries. If the boundaries aren't there it can be very frightening as they reach farther and farther for that limit to be set by the parent or adult in charge. If discipline isn't there then that is where society has to step in. By creating a sense of well being and security a parent goes a long way towards raising a child who is self confident and prepared for adult life.

Let's take a look at a typical scenario. I'm in a public place and my child has decided to act up. He is throwing a wall eyed fit because I won't buy him the latest box of Froo Froo cereal with the free toy inside that TV has convinced him he has to have!!! Now the key word here is decided...and that means he has made a choice and what do I do? I explain to him that screaming is an outside noise and if he would like to scream we can go outside until he's done.

Ohhh he's still screaming in the store ....then he's decided he wants to go outside. Next choice he has is whether or not he would like to walk or be carried outside...guess what? he has decided to be carried.

Embarrassing for me to pick up a screaming child tuck him under my arm and carry him out of the store? You bet! But I'm laying a foundation here that will both teach him that life is a series of natural and logical consequences, that here is a boundary and that I respect him and trust him enough to let him make his own choices.

I have put my sons outside for fighting at five in the morning and when the neighbor called I opened the door and handed them the phone. It's for them not me because it's a result of their choices and behavior. And be prepared to do it a few times, because kids will go back and test those boundaries to make sure they're still there. They want that security. Sounds simple? Yes. Time consuming? You bet! Does it take time to plan? Lots of it!

If I found a particular behavior was really getting to me I sat down and thought it through, planned logical consequences to the behavior then discussed it with the child. When it happened again I made sure to follow through on a consistent basis. Time outs are overused, they have a place in discipline, but logical consequences are more effective and can be used to reward as well. Ideas like,
You behaved so well at the store this time and you know what ?? Because you were so patient and helpful I had a terrific time shopping with you, let's go out and celebrate with a Dairy Queen!

This is what parenting is.....it's hard work and the willingness to take the time and spend it with them.

Sources:

The Case Against Corporal Punishment:
ptfw.homestead.com/files/resources/spanking02.pdf

Plain Talk About Spanking:
www.howtobeyourowntherapist.com/ PLAIN%20TALK%20ABOUT%20SPANKING.pdf

Life itself.

Excuse me while I chime in and perhaps end up ranting.

Spanking, when used alone, is a piss-poor method of discipline that can be called child abuse. However, the smart parent will not simply hit the child until they stop misbehaving, the parent will explain why the behaviour is wrong and why child is being punished. I am not simply speaking in theory. My father, raised in the traditional "old school" style of parenting from the 50s, employed coporal punishment on me and my siblings. However, he also would explain to us why our behaviour was unacceptable and, when we were old enough, take us mentally through the steps to a logical conclusion of what would have happened, had he not stopped our misbehaving.

It is true, I hated him at the time for it, resented him and rubbed my sore bottom as I cried. But it taught me two very important things: One was that there are consequences for one's actions beyond the immediate cause and effect. This is essential to understand in a society with laws. Break the law, go to jail. If you murder somebody, you do not just have to deal with the natural consequences of that murder, you also have to deal with the fact that you are breaking a law and that you will be rightfully punished.

The other essential lesson was simply this:

Pain hurts.


I learned from a very early age that pain is something that I wanted to avoid at all costs. I applied this same thinking to other living beings, and quickly developed sympathy, empathy, and understanding for others' plight and pain. In a world where so many seemed blind to the pain they caused others, I understood, and did my best to avoid causing others any sort of pain.

These are still the basic principles I live by today, and one would think this would be very simple and easy to discover in anyone, but even today at age 18, I look around and see so many individuals who cannot see, or simply do not care, about the pain they cause others. My father instilled a very sound basis for my ethical and moral beliefs, a simple tenet("Pain is bad, and unnecessary pain should be avoided if at all possible."). I have yet to find a single person who disagrees with this.

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