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Laws banning the spanking of children


Date Posted: 11/2/2012 4:54:03 AM

Posted By: Robinoxd  Membership Level: Bronze  Total Points: 45

Laws Banning Spanking of Children

The debate on whether or not to outlaw spanking of children as a form of disciplinary measure has been raging from the early nineties up to date. Some States in the United States has expressly denied parents the privilege of using this method to instill discipline in their young ones. Corporal punishment has also been outlawed in a number of European countries such as Finland, Croatia, Germany, Netherlands etc. In fact, only France and the Czech Republic permit corporal punishment of children. Personally I think that spanking is an effective method of instilling discipline in children so long as limits are established between discipline and physical abuse.

Supporters of the ban against spanking have come up with a variety of reasons and justifications against the use of spanking such as child abuse and perceived negative effects on the child as they grow up. Proponents cite the fact that many cases of a mere, harmless spanking turn nasty and some parents end up assaulting the children. This is a violation of human rights and should result in assault charges. For instance, since the ban of capital punishment in Germany in 1992, cases of beating to the point of bruises have diminished from thirty percent to a mere three percent. However, opponents of the ban cite this argument as phony on the basis that the ban does little to reduce child abuse. In fact, it compromises the child rearing efforts of a huge proportion of well-intentioned parents. Case in point, in 2003, eighty five percent of the 170000 cases of child abuse reports filed in Germany turned out to lack any substantive basis.

Miller, in his justification of spanking cites a common place observation of animal behavior. According to his observations, animals frequently use physical force as a way

of disciplining their young. Furthermore, Miller thinks that today’s children are more undisciplined than children brought up in older generations. To add weight to this proposition, Miller adds that in his wide travels across the globe, he has discovered that children in countries where corporal punishment is permitted are more polite and disciplined than their American counterparts.

Supporters if the spanking ban claims that the act of spanking is harmful to the child on many levels. Other than the excruciating physical pain felt by the victim, they also undergo a number of other psychological traumatic experiences. Children who have been spanked exhibited significantly lower confidence levels, it created a disposition for violence in later life and weakened the emotional bond between the child and parent. Some supporters of the ban even allege that smacking of children is associated with alcoholism, depression and suicidal tendencies.

In a review for a study carried out to establish the effect of spanking in later life, Larzerele concluded that “evidence suggests that ‘non-abusive’ and ‘customary’ use of spanking for children 2 to 6 years has neutral effects on child emotional well-being and may have beneficial effects on child behavior, because it may increase child compliance and it may reduce the need for future punishments by deterring children’s misbehavior.”(Slade 2004).

Larzele, a Professor of human development and family science, Oklahoma State University, asserts that throughout his twenty five years of research into alternative forms of disciplining children, he has not found a method that achieves the desired results like spanking. However, the professor is quick to mention that the disciplinary course of action adopted by a parent must show compassion while at the same time being firm. Moderate spanking for 2-6 year olds is an acceptable form of punishment, but it bears little fruit when used on children above the age of ten. From the ages of ten, parents are encouraged to use more diplomatic methods of punishment.
McCord, a staunch proponent of the ban on spanking sometimes claim that this form of disciplinary action is a gross violation of the trust between a child and his/her parents. It is hypocritical in the sense that parents teach their children to refrain from violence but still end up beating the children. Furthermore, corporal punishment is not very effective since it does not teach the child anything of value. In effect, the child is conditioned to respect the parents or authority out of fear. Thus, children become clever in disguising their misdeeds.

Baumrind, argues that spanking a child does not destroy a child’s life, failure to raise them in a morally accepted and open way does. According to him, an occasional spanking, when served in right measures is reasonable and prevents deterioration of morals in society. Lack of spanking during childhood causes children to grow up without internal boundaries of self-control, worsens the inability to follow instructions or bow to authority and creates a false sense of entitlement.

The debate on the perceived merits or demerits of spanking as a method of instilling discipline may not be resolved soon. However, in my opinion, spanking a child once in a while in moderation is beneficial to them. In order to make this method of punishment effective, the parent must explain to the child the reason for punishing him/her and show them that it was done in compassion, love and care.

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