Studies have indicated that over ninety percent of parents in America spank their children. This implies that almost every child in America is spanked by his/her parents at some point. Spanking has been defined as the utilization of physical force with the aim of making a child experience pain, but not injury (Henslin, 2007). Spanking is done with the aim of controlling or correcting the behavior of a child.
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In the 1960s and 1970s, there were several legislations passed in the U.S in order to prevent child abuse (Straus, 2009). These laws were adopted in good faith, but experts have argued that they institutionalized the primary cause of child abuse, which is spanking.
This is because most of these legislations protected the right of parents to spank their children. Moreover, the laws prohibiting child abuse are not applicable in schools in most cases (Straus, 2009).
Parents have justified the act of spanking their children by arguing that it is essential in maintaining discipline and making children obey their orders. However, sociological studies have indicated that spanking is a deviant way of children’s upbringing (Straus, 2009).
The opponents of such way of upbringing claim that spanking teaches children that violence is a norm, especially when used by strong people against those who are weaker than they are. In addition, children learn that hitting is the best way of solving problems. Spanking causes resentment in children that can interfere with their emotional development and capacity to learn (Straus, 2009).
Spanking children repeatedly also makes them rebel against their parents and sometimes behave in inappropriate manner even at school. Research has also shown that corporal punishment can cause deep-rooted psychological problems in a child, which occur when they become adults as they remember how they were punished by their parents (Straus, 2009).
Experts have argued that the difference between spanking a child and abuse is seen in the psychological damage caused. If a parent regularly spanks a child, the last one begins showing psychological problems like sever aggression, low self-esteem, withdrawal, or anxiety as a result of having been abused (Marshall, 2002).
Whether used in an abusive or non-abuse way, studies have shown that spanking children can be linked to societal problems like criminal violence, poor performance at work, and depression. In addition, hitting children contradicts the human values (Marshall, 2002).
Making corporal punishment illegal is a crucial step towards solving psychological, social and emotional problems caused by this practice. For example, several decades ago, people saw nothing wrong with hitting prisoners, servants, wives, and soldiers. However, after realizing that this practice undermines the values of humanity, it was condemned and forbidden (Marshall, 2002). Then, should America make spanking illegal?
Until spanking is made illegal, it can be compared to playing with fire. The American society is always at the frontline in imposing sanctions on things that are likely to be misused like arms, drugs and nuclear materials (Marshall, 2002). Allowing parents to continue spanking their children is like providing them with weapons that they can constantly use to attack their children (Marshall, 2002).
Statistics indicate that approximately two thousand children in America are killed by their parents every year while exercising corporal punishment. Furthermore, some researchers have found that sixty percent of cases of child abuse start as spanking (Marshall, 2002).
Spanking also causes serious injuries to about 142,000 children in America every year (Marshall, 2002). The extent of psychological damage this practice causes to children cannot be quantified, thus this practice should be prohibited by the law.
Henslin, J. M. (2007). Down to Earth Sociology: Introductory Readings. New York, NY: Free Press.
Marshall, M. J. (2002). Why Spanking Doesn’t Work: Stopping This Bad Habit and Getting the Upper Hand on Effective Discipline. Washington, DC: Bonneville Book.
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Straus, M. A. (2009). Beating the Devil Out of Them: Corporal Punishment in American Families and its Effects on Children. Brunswick, N J: Transaction Publishers.