Is spanking child abuse?

Jazzy

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tango

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I think it trivialises child abuse to say that a rational, proportional physical punishment is even loosely comparable to physically abusing a child. Of course appropriate physical punishment has to be (obviously) appropriate based on the age of the child and the severity of what they did to deserve a punishment. It also has to be delivered by a responsible adult sufficiently soon after the misdoing that the child clearly associates what they did with the punishment, and while the adult is still fully rational. An adult who loses their rag and smacks a child seems far more likely to cross lines, whether intentionally or not.

A couple I know fostered and subsequently adopted a young boy. While they were fostering the rules explicitly stated they were not allowed to use physical punishment at all. After the adoption was finalised the judge explicitly noted that they were allowed to use physical punishments from there on. So it's clear that, in that area at least, smacking isn't legally considered to be child abuse.
 

NewCreation435

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No it is not abuse, but I think some parents use it too much. It should be a last resort and I think once a child passes the age of 5 or 6 they are really too old for spanking
 

hedrick

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There are different types and levels of abuse. There's quite good evidence that on average spanking doesn't do what you want it to (except in the short run) and that it causes problems. That's a kind of abuse, even if it's not the kind that normally gets headlines.

However you can't just stop spanking and call it a day. You have to replace it with something. There are a number of alternatives. If you search for "alternatives to spanking" you'll find a whole list of approaches.

 

Lucian Hodoboc

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Yes, I believe that it is. Anyone who hits another person, whether a child or an adult, on purpose, with the aim of disciplining said person, is committing abuse. Using anecdotal evidence to support spanking ("well, my brother and I were spanked when we were kids and we turned out just fine") is a faulty argument because it ignores the various psychological (mental) differences between humans. An action that might cause minor distress to one person (child) could very well constitute the cause of severe emotional trauma if exercised upon another.
 

tango

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One thing I'm very conscious of is that there seems to be more and more research saying the way children used to be raised was bad for this reason or that reason, and yet it's in recent years we seem to have raised a generation that can't cope with even hearing opposing viewpoints and expect trigger warnings and safe spaces everywhere they go.

Somehow previous generations faced huge threats and got through it, so maybe the old ways weren't as bad as modern research might suggest.
 

hedrick

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I did a google search for snowflake generation. I found plenty of people complaining, but no actual evidence of the problem. Every generation of adults thinks the current generation of kids is bad news, and I'm sure they've always had things to be concerned about. I'm 70. I've taught Sunday School and worked with kids my whole life. I see no signs of the current generation of kids being snowflakes.

I do think they are in many ways overprotected. But versions of that hav e always been true. I don't think they are in general spoiled or weak though.
 

Josiah

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Proponents of spanking say children need discipline to grow up well-adjusted adult and spanking should be an available tool for parents to teach much-need discipline. Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Critics say spanking is ineffective and akin to child abuse.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Debate Question: Is spanking child abuse? (Please explain your answer)


I was never spanked.... I will never spank.... but I hesitate to universally declare such to be "child abuse"




.
 

tango

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I did a google search for snowflake generation. I found plenty of people complaining, but no actual evidence of the problem. Every generation of adults thinks the current generation of kids is bad news, and I'm sure they've always had things to be concerned about. I'm 70. I've taught Sunday School and worked with kids my whole life. I see no signs of the current generation of kids being snowflakes.

I do think they are in many ways overprotected. But versions of that hav e always been true. I don't think they are in general spoiled or weak though.

Google is all well and good but what I can see for myself is that younger generations appear less able to cope with what older generations regarded as everyday life issues.

It's pretty well known that adults complain about kids doing much the same things they did in their younger days (which is little more than a variation of the idea that "I'm special and different rules should apply").

From talking to teachers I know, at just about every level from young children to post-graduate students, the recurring theme is that what can be expected from their students declines steadily over time, even as official statistics suggest the opposite.
 

Krissy Cakes

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Spanking becomes abuse when it leaves marks.
 

ValleyGal

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Proponents of spanking say children need discipline to grow up well-adjusted adult and spanking should be an available tool for parents to teach much-need discipline. Spare the rod, spoil the child.

Critics say spanking is ineffective and akin to child abuse.
---------------------------------------------------------------
Debate Question: Is spanking child abuse? (Please explain your answer)
I am a social worker, have worked in child protection, and have spent the last 4 years as a family support worker and parent educator. While a little swat is not "child abuse", it is also not "discipline".

My understanding is that the word "discipline" comes from the Latin (?) word "discipulus" meaning to impart knowledge; instruct; teach. Jesus had disciples... same word. He didn't spank them when they got out of line, he taught them principles for life and salvation.

The phrase "spare the rod and spoil the child" has to also be examined. What is the rod? A shepherd's tool used to guide sheep, but to also beat off the wolves and predators. It is not used to beat or hit the sheep.

There are no biblical suggestions to spank children.

Here's what we teach our clients. Think about your discipline methods, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it teach appropriate behaviour?
- Does it avoid violence?
- Does it allow your child to continue to feel positive about themselves and this learning experience?
- Does it fit your child's stage of development and temperament needs?
- Does it keep your relationship with them intact?

Spanking does none of these, and simply teaches children to fear punishment, fear their parent, and to hit others who don't do as you tell them to. We then go on to teach the far more effective discipline methods that answer "yes" to all the above questions.

There are always alternatives to spanking.
 

tango

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I would question your assertion that spanking doesn't teach appropriate behavior. Used appropriately (which sadly can't be taken as a given) it seems like an effective form of conditioning, especially to help stop behaviors that could have serious consequences. If a child learns to associate the behavior with the pain of smacking/spanking and ceases the offending behaviors, the result isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I think it's foolish to assert that spanking fails to keep a child's relationship with parents intact, simply based on the observation that generations of children over the centuries have grown up, having been spanked, and still enjoy solid relationships with their parents. Some of your other assertions (e.g. that it teaches children to hit others) simply don't correlate with observations of generations of kids who were spanked but don't resort to physical force to get what they want. I suspect the difference is down to the appropriate use of physical punishment against inappropriate use of punishment.

Even the question of whether the child feels good about a form of punishment is one I would question the value of. It's important that children don't experience a punishment and take away the lesson "I am a bad person" when what they were supposed to learn was "I did a bad thing". At the same time I'd be cautious about a focus that shifts too far towards "does the child feel good about this?" and away from "does the child need to learn this?". Sometimes I wonder if children are missing crucial lessons because adults are too worried about whether they will "feel good" about the lesson, only to find they really don't feel good as adults when they discover life really couldn't care less whether or not they feel good about something.
 

ValleyGal

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Tango said "At the same time I'd be cautious about a focus that shifts too far towards "does the child feel good about this?" " I never suggested a child should feel "good" - but that they should feel positive about themselves and the learning experience. That is very different than feeling "good." As well, you allude to spanking as punishment. Research shows that punishment and rewards teach behaviour modification - it does not seek to change the child's mind and move them from immaturity to maturity. Attachment through attunement, and attachment-based discipline allows them to maintain a positive experience as well as an intact relationship. I don't know about you, but everyone I knew hated their parents for spanking them... the Bible says not to exasperate your children. Spanking leads to exasperation, dysregulation and fear of the parent authority. Just because it looks like you have their obedience and love doesn't mean you actually do; it means they are in a constant stress-state of submission (fight, flight, freeze, flock, and submit) and hypervigilance. There is always an alternative to spanking.

You are welcome to believe what you like. We base our curriculum on current research.
 

tango

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With respect, I think the distinction between "feeling good" and "feeling positive" risks being little more than semantic gymnastics. There's also a different between hating parents for spanking them in the right-here-right-now, and hating parents on an ongoing basis. I didn't care much for my parents any time they punished me, whatever the nature of the punishment - I also didn't care much for them any time they didn't let me have what I wanted - so I'm not sure the appeal to "don't exasperate your children" works unless your proposal is to give the kids what they want at all times.

I'd also be concerned about references to a "constant stress-state of submission", which to me would suggest that usage of physical punishment wasn't coming from a place of known boundaries and known consequences for crossing those boundaries. To me hypervigilance would suggest that a child knows they might get hit but doesn't have any clear concepts as to why they were being hit, which completely destroys the purpose of any punishment. If a child doesn't understand why they are being punished it seems unlikely that any punishment would be effective, so in that regard perhaps we are agreeing?

You mentioned attachment and attunement, and I certainly wouldn't dispute that any form of discipline that results in a child feeling like they lack basic safety and security is a bad thing. I just wouldn't be too quick to say that a child who has a secure attachment to their parents will have their relationship irrevocably damaged because of a proportionate and predictable punishment. A friend of mine usually has at least one foster child in their home and from what they have said about the trauma that a foster child has experienced I can see how such a child would respond very differently to the kind of discipline that might be considered perfectly normal within a less disturbed household.
 

ValleyGal

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When a child needs discipline, it's never a positive experience. They likely have some embarrassment, guilt, etc (inward) and/or resentment and anger (outward). These feelings are not "positive." But a child can leave a discipline session with their self esteem intact, and a successful learning experience. While it may appear as though it's a semantics gymnastics, it really isn't.

Hating parents in the here and now after spanking will add up over time to long-term resentment and possibly hatred. Most people who were spanked as children grow up thinking they are just fine as a result, but in reality, even the momentary anguish of the spanking could have been avoided and the relationship stayed intact without having been injured.

Research has proven time and time again that punishments do not work, but that safer forms of being with the child do... logical consequences, natural consequences, time-in, recognizing your child's needs in the moment and meeting those needs, seizing moments of unregulated emotions or behaviours as teaching opportunities... those are the things that work. Keeping relationship intact works.
 

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My mother used to spank me when I was a young kid and I turned out pretty good of a person. To be honest I don't think it's abuse unless it's taken too far. Some parents may take it to far and that would definitely be abuse. It just depends how the parent handles it. They shouldn't be ruff with the child in the least bit but just let them know enough of that they made a mistake should be enough for the kid to understand.

There is quite a thin line though. I definitely don't believe it's okay to spank your child in a ruff way. Absolutely not.
 
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