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Spanking: Discipline Or Abuse – Who Decides?

1042 words - 4 pages

“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
-Jesus Christ (Scofield Reference Bible , Matthew 18:6)
A parent’s right to spank their child has been an issue of great debate for a long time. On one side of the debate are people who feel that to strike a child in any way automatically constitutes abuse. The opposing side believes that parents are within their legal and, more importantly, their moral rights to discipline their child as they see fit. As one can imagine, the former are routinely portrayed to be overly humanistic and ultra-liberal, while the latter are almost always smeared as right-wing bible thumpers and uneducated miscreants.
The main issue, as is so often the case with controversial subjects has been lost along the way. Everyone has become caught up in the right vs. left fight and ensuing name calling so few people are truly paying attention to the children themselves. America already has enough laws. What parents need most is education and support, not legislation. Also, those without children need to mind their own business and stick to subjects they have experience with, not just opinions. Having been a child does not give one insight into how to raise a child.
Proponents of spanking bans have a tendency to label spanking as corporal punishment. They then categorize it along with many abusive activities. Psychologist Kerby Alvy explains corporal punishment as, “pinching, pulling ears and hair, shaking, slapping, smacking, spanking, swatting, hitting, kicking, punching, paddling, using switches, hair brushes, belts and ironing cords, and having children kneel on gravel or a grate” (Spanking Should Be Illegal). To hear that definition one would have to be a very calloused and uncaring individual to raise any opposition to outlawing such activities. The catch is, in most cases they already are illegal. What these bans are in effect trying to accomplish is end the parents’ right to put their hand on their child in any way which would be considered physical discipline (Reading).
How exactly does spanking differ from abuse? According to Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff spanking is, “physical force used with the intention of causing pain, but not injury, in order to correct or control a child’s behavior” (Harvard Medical School). The National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect defines physical abuse as, “the infliction of physical injury, intentionally or not, by punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning or shaking” (Harvard Medical School). The difference between the two is obvious but, the line between them is very fine.
A parent who reacts unpredictably or out of anger is much more likely to abuse or cause harm to their child than a parent who is acting as a disciplinarian with the child’s best interest in mind. Research shows that “the quality of family life and the motives of the parent...

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