Is spanking child abuse? | The Tylt

Is spanking child abuse?

It's a long-held form of discipline. Some say any form of physical attack on a child—even a spank—qualifies as child abuse. This camp believes spanking can reinforce negative behaviors and lead to violence later on in life. Others argue their own parents spanked them growing up, and the action instilled a healthy fear for authority. This group says there is a clear line between spanking a child and abusing one. What do you think? 

FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Is spanking child abuse?
#NeverHitKids
A festive crown for the winner
#SpankingWorks
Dataviz
Real-time Voting
Is spanking child abuse?
#NeverHitKids
#SpankingWorks
#NeverHitKids

There is no imaginary line between spanking and abuse. Hitting a child in any context is wrong. No matter what lesson a parent might be trying to teach, the child is defenseless. Depending on the child's age, they might not even be able to process why the spanking occurred.

According to Hand in Hand Parenting:

When a parent feels he has no alternative but to spank, he is acting out of desperation: he doesn’t know what else to do. It wasn’t part of his original plan for relating to his precious child.
For the child, it is an experience of being small and unable to control an overwhelming and unpredictable force. In this state, his mind can learn nothing. His prefrontal cortex, the center of reason and judgment, shuts down. Hence, a child’s behavior during and after a spanking is not thoughtful behavior. It’s reactive.

Many people argue that a soft or hard "bop" is the only way to get a child to understand an adult is serious. But children are not gaining an understanding of their parents' rules; they are being taught to fear their parents. 

#SpankingWorks

Corporal punishment is defined as "punishment that involves hitting someone," and according to NBC, it is still legal in all 50 states (although statues vary from state to state).

Spanking a child does send the message that a parent is serious. The idea is not to spank kids all the time (if you're spanking your child every day that would prove that the tactic is useless and border on abuse), but to use it as punishment in the most severe circumstances.

The Telegraph's Murray Wardrop spoke with Marjorie Gunnoe, a psychology professor at Calvin College, who conducted a study on the topic. Gunnoe says:

'I think of spanking as a dangerous tool, but there are times when there is a job big enough for a dangerous tool. You just don’t use it for all your jobs.'

Gunnoe's study surveyed 179 teenagers, asking them how often they were spanked as children and how old there were when they were last spanked. Participants' answers were then compared with information they provided about their current behavior. Negative behaviors consisted of things like anti-social tendencies, early sexual activity, violence, and depression. Positive behaviors included things like academic success and ambition.

Those who had been smacked up to the age of six performed better in almost all the positive categories and no worse in the negatives than those never punished physically.
Teenagers who had been hit by their parents from age seven to 11 were also found to be more successful at school than those not smacked but fared less well on some negative measures, such as getting involved in more fights.
Gunnoe found little difference in the results between sexes and different racial groups.

The study proves that up to a certain age, spanking can actually have positive effects on children. 

#NeverHitKids

Regardless of whether or not you believe spanking qualifies as abuse, there's no question that hitting a child impacts their behavior later on in life, for better and worse. A study published in the BMJ health journal surveyed the impact of corporal punishment on physical fighting among adolescents across 88 countries. The study found:

Country prohibition of corporal punishment is associated with less youth violence...these results support the hypothesis that societies that prohibit the use of corporal punishment are less violent for youth to grow up in than societies that have not.

CNN's Sandee LaMotte reported on the study and looked to pediatrician Dr. Robert Sege for insight:

Globally, about 1.1 billion caregivers view physical punishment as necessary to properly raise or educate a child, according to UNICEF data.
As the new study indicates, Sege said, 'when parents and schools model violence, it tends to increase the willingness of children to fight, to get physically violent themselves.'

"Assault" is defined as a violent physical attack. The intent of spanking as a disciplinary measure does not separate it from this definition. By spanking children, parents are teaching kids to resort to violence later on in life. 

#SpankingWorks

The consistent abuse of a child will undoubtedly have negative effects on that child later in life. But as TIME's Jared Pingleton puts it:

...there is a giant chasm between a mild spanking properly administered out of love and an out-of-control adult venting their emotions by physically abusing a child.

Spanking, then, can be one effective discipline option among several in a parents’ tool chest as they seek to steer their children away from negative behaviors and guide them toward ultimately becoming responsible, healthy, happy adults.

According to Pingleton, as long as there are guidelines to how often a child is spanked and how a child is spanked, the tactic can be extremely effective. Pingleton also notes that spanking should never be used on infants or once a child has reached adolescence, but with preschoolers, spanking really works.
That’s because reasoning and taking away privileges often simply don’t work with kids in that age range. As children age, spanking should become even less frequent as other types of consequences are utilized. 
FINAL RESULTS
Culture
Is spanking child abuse?
#NeverHitKids
A festive crown for the winner
#SpankingWorks