Against Spanking a Child : An outline of key points

Repeated spanking of a child will lead him/her to develop social and mental problems as an adult, irrespective of the frequency and intensity of the spanking.  The following points will support this contention.

I. Punishing may make the undesirable behavior look more attractive and thus add value to it. (McCord, 832)

a. It is also logically deducible that using punishment to control children’s behavior will lead to undesirable consequences.

b. In the end, punishment may just teach a child how not to get caught. (McCord, 833)

1. When parents or other adults inflict painful punishment, the children who receive them would learn that administering pain to others is also alright.

2. When children mould their behavior as ways to avoid pain, they are likely to end up as self-centered and selfish adults. (McCord, 832)

a. It is an accepted fact that children learn how to act by seeing how the elders around them act. Punishment acts against this concept and curbs a child’s instinct to follow examples.

b. Punishment makes the forbidden activity more desirable, which is another unintended consequence. (McCord, 834)

II. The relationship between spanking in childhood and later violent behavior is significantly strong, although the scientific studies have been inconclusive. (Straus, 837)

a. Why this point is compelling is because all except a few of the studies have shown that corporal punishment is associated with violence and other criminal activity.

b. Also, the weak aspect of one study is compensated for by another study. The very diversity and numbers of these studies, incorporating a variety of methodologies is bound to ensure that this link is quite valid indeed. (Straus, 837)

1. One study that researched eight non-violent communities found that the children in those societies were not spanked.

2. Another study of a ten European countries found that murder rates were greater than in the countries where corporal punishment is approved.

a. There is further research indicating the link between spanking in childhood to later delinquency, anger, spouse abuse, mental disorders, etc.

b. This relation is very similar to the relationship between smoking and lung cancer, where the link was conclusively established. (Straus, 838)

III. Even non-abusive spanking, which is accepted as justifiable, appears to be ineffective in changing child behavior. (Larzelere, 824)

a. As a matter of fact, grounding the child has proven to be a more effective method of disciplining.

b. Even non-abusive spanking appears to hold any significance to the child only in the context of a healthy child-parent relationship. (Larzelere, 826)

1. For example, of the 35 studies that examined the effects of non-abusive spanking on children by parents, the results have been on the whole against such a practice. 34% percent of the studies found negative effects on children, 40% showed neutral results and only 26% showed any positive effects.

2. Significant reduction or even a complete ban of non-abusive corporal punishment had been advocated by physicians and social scientists, who believe that it would reduce many social problems. (Larzelere, 827)

a. Thirty percent of the prospective longitudinal studies indicate detrimental outcomes, whereas the rest seventy percent indicate neutral outcomes.

b. Fifty three percent of the retrospective studies have found predominantly negative results, where only six percent of these studies have shown beneficial outcomes. (Larzelere, 828)

Works cited:

Larzelere, Robert E. “A review of the outcomes of parental use of nonabusive or customary physical punishment.” Pediatrics (Oct 1996): 824(5).

McCord, Joan. “Unintended consequences of punishment.(The Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Corporal Punishment: Proceedings of a Conference, February 9 and 10, 1996 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois).” Pediatrics (Oct 1996): 832(3).

Straus, Murray A. “Spanking and the making of a violent society.(The Short- and Long-Term Consequences of Corporal Punishment: Proceedings of a Conference, February 9 and 10, 1996 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois).” Pediatrics (Oct 1996): 837(6).