Spanking: Child Abuse with a Lobby
My objections to this practice stem from a variety of places in my ethical hierarchy. Political, psychological, spiritual, and just plain instinctual, to name a few. I would like to see it become completely illegal to hit children, as it is for adults. As it is illegal to hit your wife, and beat prisoners and soldiers. To quickly illustrate the wrongness of spanking, seriously think of using a low voltage stun gun on a child. Because many of the defenses used for spanking can be used for stun gun as well. Some basic defenses which I will attack for spanking are... • • • "It’s not like I'm beating them, it’s just an *insert watering down here*" "The bible says I should"
"It’s my right as a parent / It's my child" • "YOUR kid may be well behaved enough to reason with but MY kid is a little monster and there's no other way." "I was spanked and I turned out fine."
“You have to teach them right from wrong.” • • "I'm not saying use spanking ALL the time" Fashion. These can each be easily refuted. Lets take each one of these in turn. "You have to teach kids right from wrong"- Yes, I of course agree that ethics are an important part of child rearing but since when does being hit alter anyone's morality? There are numerous historical examples of humans enduring extremely hideous tortures rather than even lie about what they feel is right, much less actually change their morality. Beyond morality, I understand that you must show a child what is and is not accepted from a member of society, but do you really think that hitting them is the best possible way to do this? Could God come up with a better way?
Society states that assault is illegal, society states that you cannot harm others, no matter how much you disagree with them. The message sent by spanking your child is that it’s ok to hurt others if...
• • •
They piss you off enough. They don't submit to you. You can get away with it.
There are numerous studies which indicate that the presence of spanking in a child's past has only one significant impact; to statistically increase the prevalence of violence in that persons actions during adulthood in the form of violent crime. You simply shouldn't demonstrate consequences with violence because a child is smart enough to know that you are not a force of nature. I choose that wording because the most common justification given for beating your offspring relates to some dangerous situation caused by the environment. IE "Well little Billy needs to know not to jump off the roof, so I spanked him when he got close to the edge." The idiocy of this argument is nearly without peer. You are not gravity, you are not the ground, your child knows this. Your child even after you hit it, still doesn't know why the edge is dangerous, the only way it can know is if you explain it to him or her. Your hitting it doesn't serve as an emphasis for your words, it’s serves as a distraction from them. Your child is frightened and in pain because of being randomly assaulted by you, do you think this is any time to explain a new concept? How do you respond to terrorism? Are you more willing to listen to their cause having just been hurt by them? Would you remember better just because you were being punched and kicked, or would you be scared, angry, and adversarial? I say randomly above because the child, previous to being assaulted, had no idea there was danger in doing whatever it was that earned your wrath, because self interest dictates that if it knew it was about to be hurt it wouldn't do it. That is the whole assumption behind spanking them in the first place isn't it? The only reasonable conclusion is that spanking is not required, and is in fact counterproductive. "It’s not like I'm beating them, it’s just a *insert watering down here*"This is at best a semantics argument. If you walked up to a coworker and dragged her across your lap and swatted her bottom would it matter how hard you hit her when she dragged you to court for battery? How hard you hit doesn't matter, the
fact that you hit is the entire point. What's funny is again there is a paradox here. If the blow was so slight physically then how is it to be so effective emotionally? If you grant that a very slight physical blow can achieve a great emotional impact then couldn't something else slight achieve a similar effect? like a strong word? It's amusing watching the pro-beating crowd struggle on this point because deep down they know it’s wrong to hit, anything else is a matter of degree. It's like rape with a gun versus rape with drugs. Is one really ok just because it’s less of an impact physically? To really illustrate the absurdity of this point, ask yourself why they think hitting lightly is ok. It's ok because it hurts but doesn't cause permanent damage. As before, a low voltage stun gun does that as well. Would that be an acceptable as a form of physical discipline? Why not? Most arguments for spanking can be applied to the stun gun … "The bible says I should"- Wow, ok, how about you read it. You'll find that the only mention of physical discipline towards children occurs in proverbs. Written by a fanatically abusive man, who to the best of my knowledge was later murdered by his children. (correct me if I’m wrong, please) Christ on the other hand seems to have felt differently. If being crucified wasn't worthy of resistance don't you think he'd be a little slow to spank a child for curfew violations? And besides, just because it's in the bible doesn't mean it’s socially acceptable now, or the most intelligent thing to do. Honor, is not synonymous with submission. When your senile father tells you to pass him the Drano because he's thirsty, it is not a dishonor to disobey. This facet is WELL covered elsewhere. "It’s my right as a parent / It's my child" - Your rights have well defined limits when they begin to encroach on another's. Those same protections would apply to children if we lived in a sane forthright society, given the supposed status of children as our most precious resource. Or if children had the same kind of lobbyists the drug companies have. There is a tremendous body of law and ethical work that makes it quite clear you are guardian of your children not owner of them. Your right to commit assault on an adult is not mitigated by the presence of passionate anger, so why is assault on children allowed? Simple, children have no political power. (see Children’s suffrage now.) And humans, being the base tribal predators that they are, will always attack the powerless. It's very simple to me, children are people, and you don't assault people unless your safety is at stake. As a general rule of courtesy I think people should treat their children better than they treat employees, and you don't hit your employees, no matter how much you want to. Spanking children will go away, just like sending them to factories went away, and flogging of prisoners went away. It's just a matter of time, as we civilize we become gentler, and more in tune to the plight of the powerless.
Women, minorities, solders, prisoners, employees, and children all are, or were, at one time or another, on the list of classes that it was ok to hit when they pissed you off. In each case, the class in question gained enough political power to stand up for their basic human rights. In time, those who stand for children will gain sufficient power to enact legislation protecting them as well from assault. What I find ironic, is that prisoners beat out children on this front. Do we really value our prisoners more than our children? “YOUR kid may be well behaved enough to reason with but MY kid is a little monster and there's no other way." – If it comes to a point to where you are wholly unable to reason with -or trick- your own progeny, if physical violence is the only recourse available then either the child is mentally ill and needs professional observation, or you have totally botched your job as a parent via neglect, or other forms of abuse. So many idiots who have bred view successful parenting as a series of barriers to throw up and harms to inflict, like being a good parent is about controlling sugar intake and enforcing a bedtime as if it really matters in the grand scheme of things, as if nature itself doesn’t have consequences. No this, no that, and then of course the beatings for daring to resist or think independently or question the reasons behind a given order. A good rule of thumb (irony intended) here is that if you can’t reasonably explain your wishes to a child, or anyone for that matter, and convince them to agree, then perhaps your wishes are unreasonable in the first place. In our country of rampant mythology, that has the populace convinced that the earth is only 4000-6000 years old, it’s very ironic to me that these same delusional individuals can’t convince their own children that it’s a good idea to behave the way they would like them to with a lie. But credit where credit is due, deception takes a bit of intelligence after all, and if you are ok with hitting a child, you’re probably a little low on that anyway, and compassion. "I was spanked and I turned out fine." – Good for you, every independent study shows that you are the exception, not the rule. Most likely you turned out fine in spite of, not because of, your treatment as a child. Every bit of observational and statistical evidence has shown time and again that physical discipline increases the likelihood of criminal activity and/or emotional problems. A disproportionately large number of African Americans for example employ physical discipline with their children. There is a corresponding disproportional increase in criminal activity. Now I’m well aware that correlation does not denote causation, but it’s still worth considering. Perhaps we should blame something other than rap and race.
"I'm not saying use spanking ALL the time" - Irrelevant, it's wrong even if you did it once. Without resorting to extreme improbability I can’t think of a single situation where spanking a child is the moral or ethical thing to do. Like say, a crazed gunman puts a shotgun in your son's mouth and says spank your daughter or they both die. Which is insanely improbable, and hardly within the scope of daily life. I challenge anyone to present a scenario that is remotely likely where spanking is the most ethical action. (I really do, and will publish your challenge and my response in the next edition.) Fashion - Many people hit their children because it’s what is expected of their social niche. See Ted Nugent, Martin Lawrence, Bernie Mac, etc. They adopt a certain personal identity, and let that make decisions for them. What would a cowboy do, what would a tough as nails marine do, what would a gangsta do. etc. As if the "common man" cannot possibly choose to be compassionate and respectful of human rights. Well speaking as a common Kentucky man, that’s horseshit. There is no reasonable defense for spanking as a disciplinary tool. It's a worthless social institution we subject children to for reasons of personal inadequacy and social inertia not to mention that fact that the edicts it enforces are unjust and the practice itself is grossly ineffective for the following simple reason. A quick glance at the human world and its history will show that no chancy external deterrent is effective. Largely because transgressors never plan to be caught in the first place. If deterrents worked, there would be no murder, …or atheists for that matter, the inquisition wouldn't have lasted 200 years, and war would be an unknown concept. It is wise to consider the cause of events. If you have a problem with your child lying to you, ask yourself what power they are trying to seize from you through their deception, odds are it can be traced back to a lie you may have unwittingly told them. For example, you've forbidden them to take their new expensive toy outside and play with it by creek. This is perfectly reasonable, as they may drop it in, ruining it. You know they would not want that and neither would you as it cost you quite a bit. If they take it outside anyway and try to sneak it back in and you catch them, punishment is not the answer. If you give a child an object and tell them that it is theirs you must grant them certain rights with it. Consider this; an object is only "ours" because of our rights to it. For example the difference between my car and your car is largely that I can burn, sell, and smash, my car, while you cannot. To tell a child that they own something and then simultaneously tell them what risks they
can and can’t take with it (outside of safety issues) is to contradict yourself. If you’re going to be that way, then tell them they are borrowing it from you with conditions. Ironically what caused their lie, is your lie. The lie that they owned the toy, or anything for that matter. Just like the bed you want them to make for some bizarre reason. I suggest being honest with them, and with yourself. Tell them that they effectively own nothing, and that you own it all as you are responsible for them and the things they use. This isn't mean, or cold. And if you feel it is, speak out, try to change it. It’s the way things are. If they know where they stand they are far more likely to behave in line with their standing. Tell them the truth, the toys are yours, and they are just borrowing them. The vast majority of parenting problems arise from contradictions and double standards laid out by parents. Not inadequate punishment mechanisms. As before a great example is "go clean your room". Lets revisit this phrase. First it’s an order, you are telling them to do something, this is fair because you are their guardian, that puts them in a subordinate position, they are expected to follow your instructions because it is assumed that you know more about what is in their best interests then they do, -this may not always be the case- and therefore that instructions you give are conducive to those interests. But what about the "your"? This can mean either "the room you sleep in" or "the room you own". Given the nature of the English language this is a bit vague even for adults, much less children who are still learning the language. Now I'm not saying you have to have a masters in English, and speak to your children like robots, this language and phrase is fine if the understanding had been made before that you couldn't possibly have meant the room they own, since they own nothing. Because if they owned it, you wouldn't have the right to tell them to clean it, any more than they can tell you to clean the garage. My basic point here is children are people, and people don't respond well when given conflicting instructions. Children only know what you tell them. Also, people don't like having their rights taken away, and when you give them a gift and say it’s theirs, and then make decisions for it as if it is yours, you are effectively stealing it from them. Don't fault them for reacting how you might to theft and incomprehensible instructions. I speak like this to some people and here’s what I get. "You don't know what you're talking about, if you were understand, and agree with me." a parent you'd
How many times has this been uttered to avoid having to explain actions that are patently hypocritical, illogical, or just plain unethical? Why is it that otherwise rational people can drop this gem of ludicrousness in our laps whenever it suits them? If the assertion that simply the experience of being a parent puts one into harmonious alignment with all other parents on the subjects pertaining to child rearing, then I suggest we repeal child abuse laws, disband child protective services, dismantle social services, cancel all parenting classes and reassign Doctors Phil and Spock. Now you may see how absurd the argument is. Clearly parenting taps into a very deep well of emotion. One that many of us never experience and therefore don't know how to deal with, until we have children of our own. That's part of the reason these rational people are clouded into adopting such an illogical position. But time and again history and rational observation has shown that deep emotional involvement can be a very bad thing with regard to decision making. Consider the following two examples. There are most likely many more. Doctors are told to take a detached view of their patients, and are discouraged from treating critically ill family members, it’s almost a cliché in the medical community that doctors and nurses make the worst patients. This must be true of many other professions. Often people are told to give themselves distance and time to cool off before making "hasty" decisions. "Don't say something you'll regret later." Is heard time and again. It is well known that emotion is quite separate from logic. Just consider the hypothetical of a family escaping from a quarantine zone. It’s very dangerous for everyone else, but emotion takes over. Even in the pro spanking circles they advice each other to never punish out of anger, I submit that one can only punish out of anger and stupidity, but I’ve already covered that. The point being that emotion with regard to the veracity or wisdom of a decision usually only has a deleterious effect. You can’t be expected to know everything, honesty is the best policy in most situations, and compassion doesn’t hurt anyone. If the same problems come up again and again and the same solutions are used and yet the problems remain, is it not reasonable to assume the solutions need revision?