There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
She had so many children she didn't know what to do
She gave them some broth,
Without any bread
Whipped them all soundly, and sent them to bed (Mother Goose).
All across American households, adults whip, spank, paddle, and swat children as a form of acceptable punishment and as deterrent to unwanted behaviors. These actions are considered corporal punishment, and can be defined numerous ways. The American Public Health Association defines corporal punishment as "the infliction of bodily pain as a penalty for behavior disapproved by the punisher"(American Public Health Association). Similarly, the American Medical Association describes it as "the use of force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, for the purpose of correction or control of the child's behavior"(American Medical Association). No matter how it is defined, spanking is a practice that is so widely accepted in American culture that it is even celebrated in this popular Mother Goose children's rhyme. Although many argue that this type of punishment has been effective ever since the "good old days" where kids learned forcefully how to behave, there is a plethora of evidence that shows emphatically that corporal punishment never was, is, or will be an effective means of discipline. In fact, various credible studies and researchers have concluded that corporal punishment causes many undesirable and negative effects on children. Consequently, numerous cases prove that reducing this type of punishment has measurable benefits.
Most research concludes that spanking does result in immediate compliance, but according to Jordan Riak, author and founder of the nonprofit organization, Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education, "today one finds no support for spanking in the research and writing of acknowledged leaders in the behavioral sciences "(Riak 2). On the contrary, studies prove the cumulative negative affects corporal punishment has on children. These negative consequences include (but are not limited to) harm to cognitive ability and development, antisocial and violent behavior, potential for future abusive behavior during adulthood, bodily harm and injury, sexual development problems, emotional distress, and can even be a gateway to more abusive means of discipline. Admittedly, it is astonishing that all of these negative consequences result from a legal administration of discipline that 90% of all Americans say they have used (Muller).
In 1986, Murray Straus and Mallie Paschall began one of the most credible longitudinal studies conducted in the field of corporal punishment. According to Straus, the research was prompted by studies showing that talking to children (including pre-speech children) is associated with an increase in neural connections in the brain and in cognitive performance. She stated that, "Those findings led us to theorize...