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The Controversy of Spanking: Is it the Right Thing to do?

Spanking has been used as a disciplinary action for children for decades. While some may completely disagree with this type of consequence, there are others who are firm believers in spanking. There have been multiple articles, blogs, videos, etc. that have gone viral focusing on the controversy of spanking and if it is the “right” way to discipline children. Many are based off of scientific research and even use celebrities to promote one opinion or another.

Spanking Controversy

Here are just a few reasons why some believe that spanking may be beneficial/harmful: 

Pros: 

  • Teaching respect. Buzzparent.com put it perfectly when they claimed, “Spanking creates respect in the child towards the parent, it is almost a dominating primal instinct, like the wolf in a pack, it knows it’s place in the hierarchy and falling out of line will cause serious problems, even death.”
  • Little harm is done in the long run. While many “anti-spanking experts” believe that spanking can create negative side effects for children in the future, there is very little proof indicating that it leads to ill behaviors which can be linked directly to spanking. Parenting.com explains it best when they point out that aggression, lack of self-control, etc. are not linked directly to spanking. 
  • Each child is unique. While one form of discipline may work incredibly well for some children, not all kids respond effectively to other consequences. Spanking shouldn’t always be the first go-to for most circumstances, but sometimes spanking is the best way to send a lasting message for some kids… because each child is different. 

Cons: 

  • Fear instead of respect. Actress Mayim Bialik shared her beliefs on spanking and explained what several other experts believe when she said, “Spanking teaches avoidance, not obedience.” 
  • Possible risk of increased emotional and behavioral problems. Because spanking is a more aggressive form of punishment, children may not always understand if hitting is truly “wrong.” Scientificamerican.com says, “Spanking was associated with 13 out of a total of 17 negative outcomes they assessed, including increased aggression and behavioral and mental health problems as well as reduced cognitive ability and self-esteem,” from a study they conducted.
  • Potentially promotes that violence is acceptable. Though this definitely may not always be the case, there are some children who could potentially believe that violence in relationships may be acceptable. While this isn’t true for all abusive relationships, it could still have a negative effect on children that may influence them in adulthood. 

Spanking is a form of discipline that has been used for ages. Like most morals, however, what makes it the right or wrong thing to do? Parenting itself is a controversial mess with multiple opinions and theories on what is “best” for kids. In the end, it comes down to what the parents decide is the best form of discipline for their own child, in their own home. It isn’t our job to judge other parents on their decisions about how they care for their children, but it’s always helpful to be informed ourselves. What are your thoughts on spanking? Comment below with your opinions on this controversial topic! 

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