Last week, The National Post ran the front page story, “A Spanked Child May Be A Better Adult: Study”. The article mentions that the research is from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but downplays the fact that this is a Christian Fundamentalist educational institution. It’s important to know that in their faith, proverbs such as “spare the rod, spoil the child” are interpreted literally, providing justification that the Scriptures instruct them to spank their children.
Well, if we’re being “literal,” I would argue that sheep herders do utilize a staff or rod, but do they ever strike their livestock to inflict pain? NO! The rod is used to tap the back of the sheep; to guide them; to keep them moving in the proper direction. That is why I prefer the word “child guidance” over the word “discipline” because it is less apt to be confused with punishment.
Sadly, it is still legal to spank in this country, although almost every institution dedicated to children and the mental health profession agrees it’s bad. The Repeal 43 Committee is working hard to change section 43 of the criminal code. I hope you take a moment to read their articles and research. I have shared my own thoughts on the”use of appropriate force” too.
Having said all that, I should also share that I read Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s NutureShock (a great book by the way), and they also shares their dismay at finding some weird spanking research that they didn’t want to believe. It seems the spanking research is back in the limelight again. I caution you to read the findings and reporting very carefully.
Alas, I stand firm on my position: it is NEVER okay to spank a child. Period. We have other ways of correcting behavior that are effective with no potential risk, and add an element of learning that can be absent from punitive measures.
Why bother with anything else? Can’t we find a better use for our research dollars? Oy.