“All in all, punishment hardens and renders people more insensible;
it concentrates; it increases the feeling of estrangement;
it strengthens the power of resistance.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Isn’t spanking a thing of the past? Outdated by the latest technology like an 8 track tape. A cassette tape. Or a VCR? Apparently not. People still believe that corporeal punishment as a corrective measure for children’s behavior, is effective.  Not the effective they are aiming for, though.

Does physical punishment affect the bond between the parent and the child?  Absolutely.  It builds resentment.  Erodes trust.  Undermines children’s ability to work through conflict by talking things out.  Studies have shown consistently that spanking kids does not teach them to internalize a sense of right and wrong, but how not to get caught when they do something wrong.

Spanking is more related to how frustrated the parent is feeling rather than the type of behavior the child is exhibiting.  One study of 6,000 people found that of the ones who were spanked as children, half could think of a situation where it was okay for a husband to slap his wife in the face! Also the ones who had been spanked as children were less likely to use problem-solving to resolve conflict in their marriage.

Murray Straus, co-director of Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, talks about how toddlers are most at risk for spanking. “Regular spanking produces chronic stress that has been shown to slow brain development. “It can make a child less motivated to do things a parent is keen for him to do, like succeed at school.”  That can lead to a diminished academic career, including not finishing high school or college.

Alvin Poussaint, MD., Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School says that children who are spanked show higher rates of aggression and delinquency, and are more prone to depression, feelings of alienation, use of violence toward a spouse, and lower economic and professional achievement.

People justify that it is okay by looking at themselves or their kids as examples.  “You didn’t go to jail, so it must have worked.”  Using one or two people to prove a point, does not constitute something scientific that can be generalized to others.  Physical punishment in childhood tends to put people in jail as adolescents and adults, not keep them out. They are more likely to have problems with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, impulsiveness and substance abuse as well.  There is lots and lots of research out there to support this.

With each generation hopefully comes growth. Holding onto a “discipline” that was used by their parents and the parents before them is going backwards in my opinion, and apparently in the opinion of people who have dedicated their lives to researching this particular area.

If you want your kids to be successful, loving, secure people talk them through conflict.  Teach them how to problem-solve, compromise, negotiate.  Redirect challenging toddler behavior rather than resorting to a spanking. Praise effort. Let kids learn through natural consequences.   Intervene in situations before they escalate. Try something creative. Hitting is definitely not creative.

Let’s try to move forward as a society and encourage nonviolent solutions that generalize to peaceful co-existing. Peaceful people. Peaceful world.