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The Spanking Debate Continues….

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The Continuing Debate About Spanking

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.

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

More about Alyson

4 Responses to “The Spanking Debate Continues….”

  1. Christy den Haan-Veltman

    Dear Alyson,
    You are my parenting guru. I love what your work represents as it is exactly what I was NOT raised with. I attend your presentations when I can and am working on going to one of your bootcamps with my husband this year.
    I also attended Calvin College, which is a Christian College and Evangelical but it is not Fundamentalist. I was encouraged to think for myself and I was not kicked out if I disagreed with anyone or asked the wrong question as I would have in a school with a fundamentalist background.
    As a History major, my ‘job’ was to carefully read findings and reports, and always question the quality of my sources and my prejudices. Something else we agree on! 🙂
    In fact, it was at Calvin College that I found the freedom and support to challenge my up-bringing and find a new way to parent myself and now my son.
    Some Calvin Graduates go on to teach at prestigious schools around the world, such as Harvard, Oxford, even U of T! Rest assured that many Calvin professors and Alumni have questioned or dismissed this spanking ‘research’, but of course this is not in the news either.
    I was shocked and dismayed that this research was done by a prof from my Alma Mater but I staunchly defend my education as non-fundamentalist. Like all universities (Calvin grants 4 year degrees), there were extreme fundamentalists there as well as liberals (even one who said that evolution is fully compatible with creation!).
    I agree with your position on this issue but I hope you can understand why I needed to clarify your statements regarding the exact nature of the institution where this research was done. (By the way, I am relieved to tell you that the research was not published in a peer-reviewed journal–also not in the press.)
    Many happy returns of the day, Christy den Haan-Veltman

  2. Tara Bucci

    Hi Alyson,
    I agree with you and think there are other ways do discipline a child and make it work. We do a lot of time outs in our house. My husband and I argue of whether to put her in a corner (a place in my house where I can see her) or on the step(where I cannot see her). He thinks looking into the corner is awful(weird, I know)but my view is if she hates that corner so much maybe she will think again about hitting, throwing or even acting out. :p It’s so crazy when I look back and think in my elementary school there was a paddle, with holes!
    On another note, so glad to join you on the PTPA panel and I now going to go get your books for a good read 🙂 They both look great!

  3. Jennifer A. Temple

    Hitting a child in any way teaches only one thing. Might makes right. I do not believe it does but there are an awful lot of aggressive adults out there who learned that lesson well. DO NOT DO TO A CHILD OF 7 WHAT YOU DO NOT WANT THEM TO DO TO YOU AT 70~!

  4. Alyson Schafer

    Well put!


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