Discipline Essay

1393 words - 6 pages

Spanking a child is not against the law in most places. However, parents who use it in their homes are being accused of child abuse. The Chicago Tribune published an article that urged readers to report child abuse when they become aware of it. In the article “Child abuse in plain View” the author describes spanking as a type of abuse that happens behind closed doors (“Child abuse in plain View”). Like most critics of corporal punishment, the author is trying to link spanking to abuse. The author`s concern about abuse is a valid one. Abuse should be reported immediately. However, any attempt to define spanking as abuse is wrong. Spanking a child is not abuse. It is an effective way of discipline that helps guide the child into becoming a respectful and responsible person.
Critics have the tendency to lump child abuse and spanking together. The Chicago Tribune author is no different, writing, “This is not the kind of abuse that usually makes the headlines. But it is a common kind of abuse….” (“Child Abuse in Plain View”). Critics of spanking need to understand that spanking and abuse are not the same. Spanking is a quick squat on the buttock that causes temporary pain. Child abuse is physical injury such as beating, kicking, or punching a child with cruel intent. Psychiatrist William Glasser makes a distinction between the two. Glasser explains, “Discipline is directed at the objectionable behavior, and the child will accept its consequences without resentment.” By contrast, he defined punishment as, “A response that is directed at the individual” (qtd. in Dobson 96). Spanking allows room for forgiveness and reconciliation. Abuse comes from a place of hostility. It is harsh and leaves little room for forgiveness or reconciliation. Yes, spanking may cause brief discomfort, but it is not the same as beating, punching, or kicking a child.
The Chicago Tribune author wrote, “Make no mistake: hitting a child hurts, not just physically, but psychologically” (“Child Abuse in Plain View”). The author is partially correct. Hitting a child does hurt, however; there is no solid evidence that hitting a child causes psychological issues. It is important to note that pain from a squat on the buttocks is temporary. Dr. Robert E. Larzelere conducted a spanking study in 1996, where he studied data from 166 spanking studies. After carefully studying the research, he was unable to find any convincing evidence that non-abusive spanking caused any damage to children (Larzelere). Likewise, Diana Baumrind and Elizabeth Owen, from the University of California at Berkeley came to the same conclusion. Baumrind and Owens studied data from 100 families over a twelve year period. The children of the families were interviewed and observed by two teams of psychologists at the ages of 4, 9, and 14. After the study, Baumrind and Owens concluded, "Many people out there advocate that any spanking at all is detrimental, that is not what we found." They went on to say, "We're not...

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