Corporal Punishment - Yay or nay?

Inspired by these two threads:

Do Citizens in Poor Countries Beat Their Kids?

Children of Abusive Parents: Any Attempts to Hold Your Parents Accountable?

In the “Do Citizens in Poor Countries Beat Their Kids?” thread I was surprised to see the passion with which so many denounced corporal punishment. In particular this post:

I knew it is not viewed favorably in today’s society, but are parents who hit their kids viewed as actually picking on their kids? Just how out of line do you consider corporal punishment? Do you believe a zero-tolerance approach is best or is it acceptable if it is done within reason? If you do feel it is acceptable within reason, what constituents within reason? Is just a hand acceptable? A belt, clothes hanger, or stick? Is a smack across the face right out while a whack on the bum is appropriate? Why do you feel that way? I am also wondering if there is a correlation between people against corporal punishment and those who feel violence is never necessary (war, capital punishment, fights, etc.).

I thought that these questions were different enough from the other two threads to warrant their own, if I am wrong feel free to close it.

Moving thread from IMHO to Great Debates.

Gentle light physical discipline proximate to the offense administered by a parent of even temperament for the purpose of correcting inappropriate behaviour in young children is effective correction with no lasting psychologic harm.

A drunkard beating his child in a fit of rage under the guise of “correction” is harmful.

The continuum between the two needs to be defined to answer the question.

Too hard to answer without laying out some definitions.

A smack in the face = always wrong
A light swat across the bum = I wouldn’t do it but I’m not gonna cry murder if someone does it to a young kid
Spanking out of anger = unacceptable at all times
Spanking + yelling = ditto
etc, etc, etc.

IMO it’s wrong in almost all cases and never really “right.” Pro-spankers seem to live in a fantasy world where the swats are light, delivered level-headedly, purely punitive with no anger or emotion involved, and hurt the parents more than they hurt the child. My parents would probably tell you this. Several of my friends’ parents would tell you this. It’s never been true in my experience and the experience of people I’ve had deep conversations about the topic with. Being spanked was an awful experience for me and taught me nothing. I would never do that to a child.

I’m generally pro-military (anti Iraq war, though), generally anti capital punishment, and would aggressively defend myself in a fight.

Bolding mine

There are times when it’s not possible to reason with a 2,3,4, etc. year old. That said, it’s rare indeed that any person strikes another out of logical thought.

I oppose it 100%. It is never right.

It’s none of my business, and it’s certainly none of yours.

Now, if you see someone beating the ever living hell out of a child, by all means do something about it. But a swat and a stern talking to? Stay out of it.

I agree with you philosophy. I was slapped on the hand once or twice as a kid, and that was certainly enough to make me understand where my Dad was coming from. I’m one of those intolerant people who get bummed out by out of control kids.

Having been severely abused as a child…

Corporal punishment is not only OK, it’s desirable.

No, not beating your child. I’m not talking about any of the shit I went through.

But there are times and situations where nothing less than a physical blow is going to make the point. You can’t reason your way out of every situation, or with every kid. You can’t politely discuss why you think they should do what you tell them to do. And if you think you can simply throw up your hands in despair and surrender your position of authority over a willful child because you can never lay your hands on them, then you should never have become a parent in the first place.

Years ago there was some study on spanking in our local paper which charted behavior and frequency of spankings and so forth. The top of their numbers was something like “five or more times a week”. Well duh! If you have to spank your kid that many times, you and the kid both have serious problems. Frankly, if you have to spank the kid more than that many times PER YEAR, then you’re doing it wrong. But in no way should spanking your kid a couple of times per year be seen as this gawd-awful “how can you be so inhuman?” level of abuse that some people want to make it out as.

A spanking should always be presented as a big deal, a “now that I have your attention, this behavior is going to stop right now” moment.

I say nay. I won’t lift too much of an eyebrow if someone is using a hand-slap or a swat on the rear with their kids, particularly in dangerous situations like running out into the street, but I don’t do it and I think most people probably shouldn’t. For one thing, I think it’s difficult to refrain from ever using corporal punishment in anger, although I will concede that for some people it’s possible. For another, I don’t think beating actually teaches kids anything, outside the aforementioned “running into the street” situations. Well, it teaches them to be afraid of getting caught doing something bad, I guess. This is not really the disciplinary goal I’m going for in this household, though.

But like I said, if other parents choose to use this technique sparingly and in a non-abusive way, I can’t object too much. As has been pointed out, there’s a big difference between “swat on the rear” and “slap the kid in the head repeatedly while screaming abuse at him.”

I have never encountered a situation like this, and I don’t think I have particularly tractable kids or anything. But we’ve never run into anything that our standard methods of discipline wouldn’t work for.

Nay. I can understand a light but firm smack on the butt if, say, you’ve got a kid a few months old who does something dangerous and it’s not possible to explain it because of his age, but you need to express urgently “never do that again.” Other than that kind of rare thing, absolutely not, it’s child abuse.

I got belted a couple of times in my youth. I vote **NO **on corporal punishment.


A bit more wordy than I would have it but I agree.

For me a swat on the butt usually suffices to get the point across.

Lord knows I was a difficult child but my parents never raised a hand against me (well, not “never”, my mom slapped once pretty hard when I was in 5th grade…I had it coming believe me and I guarantee I never said what I said then again). And my first dad whomped my brother pretty severely…he was gone before I was old enough to have the pleasure (<— sarcasm).

As a huge dog lover and spending lots and lots of time around them I have found there is zero excuse or need to ever physically punish the dog. The very best results are achieved by other, non-violent means. For a dog a swat on the butt suffices at the outside (which I do not define as “violent”…more the gesture and implication which comes across loud and clear that works, there is no actual physical pain experienced by the dog).

Yeah, humans are not dogs but for children the psychology is not so far different. Opting for a violent response to correct behavior is the refuge of those incapable of being better parents. It is a shortcut with worse results.

The parent needs to try harder to engage with their kids and find another solution. I am not suggesting the kid needs to be coddled…often they need a sharp rebuke but there are options beyond hitting. More effective and less damaging.

I have no problem with it. Nature has taught us many-a-lesson with pain; I don’t see why parents shouldn’t be able to do the same.

Nature teaches us the hard way not to stick our hands in the fire. Mom and dad do not need to say a thing when their kid learns this lesson. Nature taught it better than they ever could. Nuff said.

Nature has nothing to say about coloring on the walls. Methinks infliction of physical pain in this instance from mom or dad is unnecessary.

Bit of a difference in my view.

Having parents is natural. YMMV, I guess.


Water is natural. Necessary to life and can also kill you.

Your point?

A smack on the ass is not abuse and is perfectly acceptable for certain offenses: a kid putting themselves or others in danger, hurting another, repeatedly disobeying the same rule within a given time frame, etc…

While I’d like to respect others right not to do this to their kids, my own observations have revealed to me that many parents that don’t use corporal punishment also don’t do anything else that’s effective in stopping, punishing, and preventing the wrongful behavior. Trying to “reas:rolleyes:n” with a child is like trying to reason with a stray dog. Sometimes a person (child or adult) needs to feel “powerlessness, shock, and despair”, at least temporarily, as a consequence for their behavior.

And now a bunch of you will post to me how wonderful your kids that you never spanked are. I don’t believe you, and I don’t care.:o