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Spanking: Discipline or Abuse?

In: Social Issues

Submitted By johncllay
Words 1827
Pages 8
John Clay
English 101
Mrs. Cannon
25 April 2012
Spanking: Discipline or Abuse?
Spanking a child, in contemporary times, is often viewed in a negative light. Many people consider it child abuse and unnecessary. In some situations with some children however, it can be an effective form of discipline. For some problematic children, it may be the only effective option. “The problems some kids who are spanked have in later life might have to do more with their personalities--the behaviors that got them spanked in the first place--than with the punishment (Paul). Parents should be able to discipline their children as they see fit as long as they are not abusing them.
Parents are allowed to spank their children in the state of Missouri. Missouri State Law provides the following as to what is abuse: “ (1) "Abuse", any physical injury, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse inflicted on a child other than by accidental means…, except that discipline including spanking, administered in a reasonable manner, shall not be construed to be abuse” (Mo. Gen. Assembly RSMO 210.110). RSMO 160 Section 10, pertaining to corporeal punishment in schools, concurs stating: “Spanking, when administered by certificated personnel … in a reasonable manner..., is not abuse within the meaning of chapter 210” (Mo. Gen. Assembly). These statutes are vague however, in defining how to spank your child in a reasonable manner. In a recent interview, Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson shed some light on the matter. “His office looks for certain signs showing that a report of abuse is valid” (Clark). These certain signs include: * “The purpose of the spanking: was it discipline, or out of anger and simply an assault?”(Clark). * “The age of the child: is the child too young to appreciate a spanking? Is the child too old such that it’s really an assault?”(Clark) * “The location of the spanking: is it on the fleshy part of the bottom where one typically thinks of the spanking, or is it on the backs of the legs or on the back of the child in some other location?”(Clark) * Patterson says, “[That] any marks or signs of injury resulting from a spanking tend to involve abuse, and usually those cases aren’t accidental.” (Clark)
In April 2005, Michael Burns and his wife Patricia adopted his brother’s three children. His brother was a drug addict. The kids had been raised in a chaotic environment without a lot of structure or discipline. The children thrived in their new home. Their grades were good. All three were in their correct grade levels. In March 2007, the oldest boy who was then ten was involved in two fights in a two day span of time at school. Michael felt that there should be severe consequences at home. As Michael tried to whack him on his buttocks with a belt, the boy struggled, putting his arm down to protect his behind. He left bruising on the boys left forearm and triceps. An aide at daycare called the child abuse hotline the next day. Michael was charged with third degree assault with a deadly weapon and offered SIS Probation. As of the date of this articles publication, the matter had not been resolved. Prosecuting Attorney Bob Mcculloch stated, “He thought the injuries, while not severe, warranted the misdemeanor charge” (Mcclellan). It is important to not leave marks or injure your child while spanking them.
Parents use discipline to teach their children the difference between right and wrong. Spanking can promote discipline, allowing for less child rebellion. This type of discipline also teaches the child respect for his or her parents, elders, and society in general. Corporal punishment dates back to biblical times; it was even an accepted practice. King Solomon states in Proverbs “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die” (Proverbs 23:13 KJV). Spanking should not be considered child abuse, unless the parent spanks for a reason other than discipline. If the spanking comes from feelings of hatred, anger, or to humiliate the child, then it should be considered abuse; otherwise, spanking is just a form of discipline. It should be reserved for serious offenses. It’s important that the child knows why you are spanking them; more importantly, they should be assured that you still love them. Discipline, without first establishing a loving relationship with your child leads to rebellion. Kansas senator, Phil Journey, in 2007 endorsed a bill “to provide legal immunity and standards for [the] use [of corporeal punishment]” (Sullinger). Under Journey’s bill, “the student must be told the reason for the punishment; [however], it cannot be the first line of punishment for misbehavior” (Sullinger). The bill eventually failed.
Punishment serves to protect and guide a child. Children are not able to grow into responsible, contributing members of society without guidance. Punishment should be administered in a progressive manner – the greater the offense of the child, the more severe the punishment should be. To not discipline your child is in itself abuse. Children grow up thinking rules don’t apply to them; they think they can do what they want. Jail time, prison sentences, and broken relationships await them. In June 2009, after allegations arose that Kate Gosselin had spanked her daughter, she issued this response to Life & Style: “Whether paparazzi are there or not, I am a mother first. I love my children and when they misbehave, I discipline them as I deem appropriate for the situation” (Poll: To spank or not to spank- like Kate Gosselin).
From my experience, I can tell you that spanking may be the only option in certain situations. Some kids just simply do not listen. They refuse to stand in the corner or comply with punishment requirements. I myself was one of them. A good whipping always made me think twice about repeating a negative behavior. “Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) nor the American Psychological Association (APA) has come out fully against the practice. In 1998 the former issued a statement that said, in part, "Spanking is only effective when used in selective, infrequent situations." An APA statement permits similar wiggle room: "There is difference of opinion within the psychology community about spanking. But there is general concern that if and when spanking might lead to more severe forms of corporal punishment, parents should avoid [it] (Paul).
I have friends whose kids run wild and are out of control. They do not spank them and the need for it is evident. I feel that lack of discipline is one reason for the immorality of society, in general. Negative behavior is not corrected and over time becomes accepted. A lot of the TV programs and music albums of today would’ve been considered lewd and inappropriate fifty years ago. John Rosemond, executive director of the Center for Affirmative Parenting in Gastonia, N.C., and author of several books on discipline, “notes that “[fifty] years ago almost all children were spanked. Yet by all accounts, children are more aggressive and prone to violence today, and at earlier ages, than they were back then. [Rosemond] points out that existing research on spanking is unpersuasive” (Paul).
Fear and avoidance of pain are natural survival instincts, ingrained into each of us through thousands upon thousands of years of evolution. The child at first will probably cease the behavior out of the fear of being spanked. After a while, it will come natural. The child will realize that the behavior is unacceptable, in most cases. Left uncorrected, the child believes what they did was appropriate. They will most likely repeat the action.
Slapping, kicking, or punching your child for any reason is abuse. These actions are unnecessary; the parents should be put in prison. Murray Straus has studied the issue of spanking for decades. “[He] presented data last year [stating] that children who were physically punished have lower IQ’s than their counterparts [and are] more likely to become aggressive. [However], it may be that children with lower IQ’s[ are] more likely to get spanked”(Sultan). There is no harm however in a parent spanking a child in the proper manner (on their bottoms), for a serious offense. Yes, a child shouldn’t be spanked for every offense. When they put their selves or others in danger though, it’s important to convince them not to repeat the behavior. “Severity and frequency matters when… spanking [your child].There is a big difference between the occasional swat on the rear of a toddler who runs into a busy parking lot and a serious beating. [Researchers agree] “that occasional open hand smacks on the bottom are… harmless [and] have some benefit” (Sultan). A child should be spanked for stealing something or any other criminal offenses. If they do this when they’re older they will be put in jail. It’s important to convince them that the behavior is wrong and unacceptable.
In all, I believe spanking is an acceptable form of punishment, when done in the right way, for the right reason. “Elizabeth Owens, psychologist] at the University of California, Berkeley, found that occasional mild spanking does not harm a child's social and emotional development” (Paul). I also think that societies growing disdain for it is a mistake. Our prison populations are at an all-time high; it will continue to grow as more people cease to correct serious offenses with the proper severe punishment. Children are spanked in order to save them from the heartache and misery their actions shall render. Done for this reason, in sincerity, it can never be considered abuse. Table 1. Missouri Prison Population (1980-2009)
# of inmates
# of inmates (

Works Cited
Baumer, Lorilee. “Corporal Punishment Not Abuse in Missouri.” St. Louis Public Schools Examiner. 28 July 2009: n.pag. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.
Clark, Rebecca, narr. “Where Does Missouri Law Place the Line between Spanking and Abuse?” KSMU. Ozarks Public Radio, 8 Nov. 2011. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.
Holy Bible. The Gideons International. Nashville, TN.: National Publishing Company CR. 1978.
Print. KJV.
Mcclellan, Bill. “Dad in Trouble for Raising Kids with Discipline.” St. Louis Post Dispatch 7 Oct. 2007: n.pag. Newsbank. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.
Missouri General Assembly. RSMO Chapter 160. “Schools—General Provisions.” State of Missouri. 28 Aug 2011. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.
Missouri General Assembly. RSMO 210 “Child Protection and Reformation.” State of Missouri. 28 Aug 2011. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.
Paul, Pamela. “Is Spanking Ok.” Time Magazine 8 May 2006: n.pag. Time Magazine Archives. 9 April 2012. “To Spank or Not to Spank—Like Kate Gosselin.” Kansas City Star. 17 Jun. 2009: n.pag. Newsbank. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.
Sullinger, Jim. “Lawmakers Consider Law on Spanking.” Kansas City Star. 20 Feb. 2007: n.pag. Newsbank. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.
Sultan, Aisha. “Spanking: Is it Ever Ok?—Dirty Laundry—Finding Long Term Effects is Tricky.” St. Louis Post Dispatch 6 Mar 2010: n.pag. Newsbank. Web. 9 Apr. 2012.

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