Think, a seven year old boy returns home from school, throws his backpack on the floor, and immediately rushes to his room to play his favorite videogame. He seems to forget his parent’s rule about finishing all homework before playing. But then the boy’s father walks by and snaps his belt. The boy knows what this means, because he has been getting spanked since he was only 2 years old. He drops his video game, and sits down to do his homework. The problem is solved, right? It may seem this way on the surface, but what physiological damage is brewing in this child that could haunt him for the rest of his life?
Corporal punishment has remained an extremely controversial topic for many years. To spank or not to spank? This is the moral conflict that many parents and even school administrators are faced with. People’s opinions greatly vary. Some believe that it is perfectly fine to use as a disciplinary method, others believe that is alright to threaten to use it but rarely actually follow through with it, and others believe that it is absolutely wrong to use corporal punishment for any reason at any time.
“The term corporal punishment has serious connotations, implying a disciplinary tool or drastic measure reserved for special circumstances”. Corporal Punishment includes a wide range of physical actions to inflict pain and discomfort. This can come in the form of pinching, pulling ears and hair, shaking, slapping, smacking, spanking, swatting, hitting, kicking, punching, paddling, using switches, hair brushes, belts and ironing cords, and having children kneel on gravel or a grate (Williams).
The use of corporal punishment can leave a tremendous amount of negative effects on the child. These effects can be either short term or long term, and vary in degrees of severity. One of the most obvious issues that can result from the use of corporal punishment is physical damage. Some people fail to realize that even the softest paddle can cause injuries to a child. Blows to the lower end of the spinal column, send shock waves up the spine. This can result in lower back pain in adulthood, or even cause the child to become paralyzed. There have even been reported deaths caused by spanking, due to an undiagnosed medical condition. The more a child is spanked and the older he gets, the harder the adult will have to hit. This can easily escalate to extreme physical abuse, especially if the punishment is not producing the desired goals and the parents are unaware of alternative methods. (Hunt)
Another, less obvious, effect on the corporally punished child involves sexual abuse. This topic is often avoided when dealing with the issue of spanking, and the sexual consequences are rarely openly and seriously discussed. The buttocks, like a woman’s breast, are erogenous parts of the human body. They are not considered sexual organs, but their close proximity to the genitals and vas amount of nerve endings make them major sex signals. If a coworker slaps another coworkers buttocks, it is considered by law to be sexual harassment. So, why is it alright for us to treat our children in this way? Spanking can cause some children to begin mixing pain and pleasure, because even young children can have involuntary sexual sensations during spanking. It can cause them to have trouble experiencing appropriate sexual sensations as an adult. Spanking also can hurt a child’s sense of modesty. (Johnson) In some cases, the adult may begin to derive sexual pleasure while administering the punishment. (InternationalDebateEducationAssociation) Most adults that spank their children, fail to realize that there are so many negative sexual effects for their child.
Corporal punishment can lead to several psychological and emotional difficulties in the child that can follow them into adulthood. It can drastically damage the relationship between the adult and child. It is not human nature to feel loving towards someone that hurts us. Children often begin to fear an adult that uses physical methods to punish them, and will likely lose all trust in the adult. This fear may be successful in getting the child to behave properly for awhile, but this is only a superficial act on the child’s part. “Angry teenagers don’t just fall from the sky.” Once the child is old enough to resist, it can cause even worse behavior and unhappiness on the entire family (Hunt).
Corporal punishment does do the job of punishing a child, but what it fails to do is teach the child any type of positive lesson. The child will often understand that the adult is angry, but not understand why. This can cause a lot of confusion for young children.” When we make a child afraid, we stop learning dead in its tracks”- John Holt. The child will most likely begin feeling ashamed, angry, and revengeful. He will not be thinking about what he did wrong, or how to prevent the problem from happening again. (Hunt) Sitting down and talking to the child about what they did wrong, and working together to come up with a solution would be far more effective.
In reality, the lesson being taught by using corporal punishment is “might makes right” Parents and adults in the child’s life are their essential role-models. When these role-models hit them, they are being taught that violence is the acceptable solution to every problem. They begin believing that is alright to mistreat anyone smaller than you are. As they become adults, they often lack compassion for those less fortunate then themselves, and fear those that are more powerful. Since they have not learned better ways for solving problems, they often become lost when it comes to handling difficult situations in life. (Hunt)
Corporal punishment is not just an issue when it comes to parents. Many school officials have debated rather or not to allow it in schools. Of course, the same negative consequences are thrown upon the child as when an parent inflicts the punishment. Over 100 nations have banned the use of corporal punishment in schools, which is a wise decision based on statistics. More school shooting deaths were reported in states allowing school corporal punishment than those who do not. The academic achievements of students in these states was lower. Since the use of paddling in schools was banned, the amount of violence in schools has actually declined. (The Center for Effective Discipline) Schools should be a place where children can go to learn and feel safe, not a place where they have to fear being physically hurt.
To spank or not to spank? Even though there is repelling evidence against the use of corporal punishment , some people continue to punish children in this way. It is not questionable about rather or not it can leave negative physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional effects on children that can haunt them for a lifetime. It may temporarily fix the problem of a misbehaving child, but it does not come without a price.
Hunt, Jan. Ten Reasons Not to Hit Your Kids. 6 February 2010 .
International Debate Education Association. Corporal Punishment (for Children). 23 August 2009. 6 February 2010 .
Johnson, Tom. The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children. August 2002. 6 February 2010 .
The Center for Effective Discipline. Discipline at School (NCAPS). 6 February 2010 .