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The Controversies of Spanking: Effect of Regular Spanking Research Paper

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Updated: Nov 18th, 2021


Introduction – spanking and its controversies, effect of regular spanking- Psychological problems of spanking – depression and suicidal thoughts etc.

Attitude of spanked adults- Role of adults in spanking.

Role of religion in spanking -Treatment of youngsters by adults and teachers, Conclusion- excessive spanking will result a negative impact among the children.

The Controversies of Spanking

All will agree with the fact that children are the wealth of existing as well as the future society. But when the discussion is focused on the method of child treatment and their molding for the future, it becomes a little bit controversy, especially when talking about spanking as one among the methods intended to guide children into goodness and morality. It has been agreed upon that one should never wish to lead his child into the ways of falsehood or as the follower of all the wickedness. Spanking is the method of punishing by striking on the buttocks, slapping a child’s hand or pinching the child on extremities. Many studies prove that spanking has both advantages and disadvantages and the researchers are parted with regard to spanking. Some of them have opined that spanking or physical punishment is unwanted and there should be attempts to improve the mental health of children. The paper aims to find out whether spanking is effective in the character formation of the children or will it turn them against their caregivers and ruin them when they reach in adolescence. Whether it may cause mental depression, psychological problems, or lead them to be addicts of alcohol and drugs, when they reach adolescence, also have been discussed. There are many factors that support and reject spanking, including religion and the society. As it involves various controversies, one has to approach the topic carefully. When one looks deep into this problem, what one feels is that spanking is not at all a good process, not only with the physical punishment involved in it , but also as an action that affects the student’s mental health.

To guide their children, some of the parents have the habit of punishing their children for silly reasons, without being aware that continuous spanking will take the children away from the caregiver and will cause for keeping some kind of grudge in their mind. This grudge may later lead them to be the possessor of a vicious character, who either spoils themselves by excessive drinking, taking drugs etc., or ruin the life of someone sticking on with them. There is possibility for them to be led to crimes, or self torture as the side-effect of the over imposition. It is because of these reasons most of the countries either ban or restrict spanking or smacking. “British legislation is against such forms of child punishment and although mild smacking is allowed under a “reasonable chastisement” defense against common assault, many people are seeking a complete ban.” (Slade and Tapping)One cannot assert that mild spanking or smacking will cause any kind of psychological problems, but it should be allowed for a reasonable reason and the surveys conducted among doctors and parents support this view point. They are of the opinion that if the child is not punished for his mistakes, it will lead him to repeat the same mistakes. Some parents spank their children only when it is necessary to do it, but from the part of the child he will remember only the spanking than hundred hugs of his parent, especially if they are given in anger or unjustly. Children feel that parents solve their problem by beating them. Above all, when a person is punished physically, naturally he will have the tendency to react against it, even if it is a child. But the reaction of the child will be different from the elders, who may keep it in his mind and misinterpret that it is because of the dislike of his parents they beat him. So it is seen that if a child is spanked, there is the moral liability for the parent or the teacher to make him understand the reason for spanking and the child should sense his mistakes. If it is not so, the child may take it negatively and cause him to engage later in crimes as a protestation against the caregivers. Regarding the teachers, as they are one of the most influential factors of a student, they have the moral obligation to make their children aware against spanking. If it is to be taught, teachers should be capable of controlling their excessive spanking and smacking. If there is such kind of atmosphere, there will be a close attachment between teachers and students.

Excessive spanking may cause some psychological problems in children, especially, if it is in anger. “Existing research does indicate that children who routinely experience harsh physical punishment (including spanking) are at greater risk for depression as well as a host of other psychological adjustment problems.” (Turner and Muller)But one cannot say that spanking will lead a child to life-long problems or depression, as it is recommended that a mild spanking is good for the child to imbibe that ability to survive and react positively to his surroundings. Various studies conducted show the regional difference in spanking or treating children. “It is clear that African American parents are more likely than European Americans to spank their children.” (Mizell, Pryor and Elizabeth, 1) This spanking very often causes some behavioral changes in the African American children and they become problematic. When considering the racial comparisons, the European American children who are spanked exhibit more behavioral problems than the African American. Nowadays, one of the most important problems faced by the American children is depression and different studies point out that the depression rate among the American children is going up. Some of the reasons identified for depression are frequent sadness, feelings of hopelessness, decreased interest in activities, persistent boredom, social isolation, low self-esteem, poor concentration, major changes in eating and sleeping habits, and suicidal ideation. If a child is continuously spanked, it causes for sadness and the feeling of hopelessness in him and is tended to keep himself away from his friends and others, showing the symptoms of depression.

Though there are various implications with regard to spanking, one can infer that spanking depends on the environment in which a child lives on. The environment may exert its influence in molding the child’s character and behavior, to an extent disregarding all the other facts. When analyzing the psychological perspective of spanking, it is understood that higher level of spanking affects the children in their mental health and may lead to depression. Different studies have been conducted to evaluate the influence of spanking on one’s life, specifically to analyze the behavior of adults who spank their children and to find out the fact that whether they were spanked when they were children. Surveys and researches on this topic show that there is the tendency of spanking found in such parents who regard it as a good method to guide their children. In the case of spanking, both men and women are equal. Even the pediatricians spank their children so as to confirm their good moral behavior. One of the studies conducted in U.S. shows, “In the United States, 74% of parents of children 17 years of age or younger use spanking as a discipline technique.” (Kazdin and Benjet). “94% of parents of 3 and 4 year-olds use corporal punishment.” (Kazdin and Benjet). It clearly shows the anxiety of parents in making their children the better citizens.

Corporal punishment of children helps the academics, researchers and health care professionals for serious debates and discussions. According to the researchers, religion plays a significant role in this controversy. Conservative and Protestantism reveal their supportive nature towards corporal punishment. Protestants strongly argue in favor of corporal punishments on the basis of the religious doctrine Bible. Bible gives a clear and authoritative guidance for human affaires and behavioral patterns, and including a structure of family relationships. One can find that a lot of reasons constitute their belief. Protestant people use the Biblical doctrines as an index of their child treatment. They believe these treatments are more secular, moral and credible for others. The following statement rightly comments about the Protestant belief towards corporal punishment. It says:” this leads conservative Protestants to consult scripture for practical input on child rearing and to treat biblical insight as the yardstick by which the credibility of other, more secular, information can be evaluated.” (Religious Beliefs, Sociopolitical Ideology, and Attitudes Toward Corporal Punishment, 5). According to Protestants physical discipline may be useful or less harmful for children. More than this the Bible itself includes a lot of references that expose the virtue of child discipline especially in Old Testament. According to the Bible, human nature is basically sinful. Therefore, man has a natural tendency to show selfishness and they try to decline the authority through rebellion. So the evangelical says that it is the religious duty of a parent to prevent these destructive tendencies among their young ones.

The advocates of spanking argue some traditional views. According to them spanking is the reasonable action of responsible parents towards their disobedient or unruly children. It is an effective preparation for the children for facing trials and tribulations of life. Some of them described spanking as appositive sign of child caring. Even it has enough religious and traditional justifications spanking affects the children negatively. When the spankers are non purposive or aimless and depicts spanking as only an act of emotional outburst it will have some drawbacks. In his comments Joel Best explains the real purpose of spanking. It says:”Defining spanking as a tool or methods suggests that spankers are purposive rather than aimless and depicts spanking as a logical activity rather than an emotional outburst.” (Joel, 139). Corporal punishments including spanking has been accepted method of childcare among fundamentalist groups, but a large number of Christians are raising objections, they argue that spanking is an unruly practice that should be prohibited. A large number of modern researchers and academics recommended that substitute methods be used and that spanking be avoided.

When reaching the conclusion, one can infer that spanking is quite common in most of the countries and the excessive spanking affects the child in various ways. Parents spank their children of and on. It may or may not be of serious reasons. But most of the parents spank their children to guide them to morality or for being naughty. Whether spanking is intended for goodness or not, one can see that the children very often take in the negative sense and may cause for sprouting grudge, though not in a greater quantity. Majority of the studies conducted on spanking reveal that higher levels of spanking take children away from their caregivers and there is possibility for them to turn against these caregivers. It very often leads them to be the possessors of bad habits like alcohol consumption, drug abuse, etc. as a protestation to the spanking from the parents. Some of the studies point to the reality that children who are treated in a very strict family background often misuse the freedom they enjoy when they grown up. Spanking is seen in the educated as well as the illiterate who are motivated or intended for the well being of their children. Both the educated and illiterate is of the misconception that spanking will provide a good foundation for the student in his studies as well as his behavior. Higher level of spanking causes psychological depression among the students, who lose their interest in everything, feels sadness and sometimes show suicidal tendency. There is possibility for them to show aversion to everything throughout their life. The adults who have been spanked have the tendency of spanking their children and they regard it as a necessary method of corporal punishment. Not only the parents but teachers also adopt spanking as a tool for guiding their students. Religion also supports spanking or corporal punishment. Protestant people have used the Bible for teaching their children of morality and the ways of the God. Religion suggests strict rules for how to teach children. Most of the religions share the same view and monasteries follow very strict rules in teaching religion or morality. To conclude, one can see that though there are different qualities involved in spanking, as it is involved with the moral teachings to guide the children, the excessive spanking will result a negative impact among the children and it will not provide the desired effect, instead it may turn the child to protestation and depression or to criminal deeds which may ruin his own and others’ life and career.

Works Cited

  1. Joel. Troubling Children: Studies of Children and Social Problems. Aldine Transaction. 1994.
  2. Kazdin, Alan E., and Benjet, Corina. Spanking Children: Evidence and Issues. Current Directions in Psychological Science.
  3. Mizell, C Andre Christie., Pryor, Erin M., and Elizabeth R. Crossman Child Depressive Symptoms, Spanking, and Emotional Support: Differences Between African American and European American Youth. Family Relations. 2008.
  4. Religious Beliefs, Sociopolitical Ideology, and Attitudes Toward Corporal Punishment. Journal of Family Issues. 2009.
  5. Slade, A M., and Tapping, C, R. Paediatricians’ Views on Smacking Children as a Form of Discipline.
  6. Turner and Muller. Straus. 1994.
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