Spanking–the gateway?

Not long ago I read a comment on a Facebook post: “mass murderers must not have been spanked enough as children”. It seemed counter intuitive. It’s well known that abused and neglected children suffer physical and mental health consequences. They are more likely to commit crimes, suffer from addictions, enter into poor relationships, and even die young. But what about good old fashioned corporal punishment? How bad is it? Could a few well-placed spankings have prevented a mass murderer from forming? I decided to look into it.

I found that corporal punishment is common across the globe. Three-fourths of parents use some form of it in child raising. 

Here in the U.S., 70% of parents find some sort of physical punishment necessary. We aren’t talking abut beating or hitting with objects. We’re talking spankings. The United States is among the high-spanking -rate countries. High spanking is also common in African countries. The UK, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany, and Mexico are low spanking countries. Australia  and Germany transitioned from a high spanking countries to a low spanking countries

Hunter-gatherers do not spank their children, (They let their children do things such as hold knives at a young age and encourage them to be helpful by cutting up vegetables and learn from their experience should they cut themselves.) Rates of spanking and physical discipline vary among cultures.

But what are the effects of spanking?

  1. First of all, frequently spanked children are more aggressive. It isn’t known if they are aggressive if they are spanked more or spanked more because of their aggressive nature.
  2. An occasional light open handed spanking (once a month or less) from Mom doesn’t seem to hurt kids much if at all, especially if she engages in positive actives such as reading books to them and using non-physical methods to control their behavior. However, some studies say that no matter what, spanked kids are more likely to become criminals. 
  3. Even studies that condone spanking say it should be used only as a secondary form of punishment if taking away privileges fails.
  4. Spanked kids do much worse on tests of cognitive development and mathematical ability. Spanking decreases intelligence. This is pronounced if the spanking is “high frequency” and comes from the father.
  5. Spanking effectively alters the child’s short term behavior. However, long term spanking can create social problems in adults. 
  6.  Whatever you do, don’t do a search for “spanking and wife beating”. You’ll find all sorts of erotic videos and also links to Christian masculinity. There’s a connection. Being spanked means that a child is more likely to grow up to engage in domestic violence. Spanked children are more likely to become adults with many sexual and relationship problems including coercing another to have sex, risky sex such as sex without a condom, and being aroused by sexual pain.
  7. Bottom line–spanking can have negative effects that last into adulthood. Spanking can prevent children from developing healthy relationships later.
  8. One German criminologist points to evidence that American parenting produces more criminals and more violence. The nation with the highest rate of spanking (91%) I could find, Nigeria, has a sky-high crime rate. 
  9. Outlawing spanking in a culture results in less crime later.
  10. American criminologists point out that violence begins in the home and is so deeply ingrained that no amount of punishment or incarceration will stop it once the children become adults. So much for the death penalty.
  11. I repeat, less spanking leads to less crime in adults.

I was spanked as a kid. Not only did I resent it, I weighed every naughty thing I did against if it was worth a spanking. It usually was because spankings didn’t last as long as the fun of the mischief. I don’t think I turned out perverted but on the other hand, I’ve never minded being called naughty.

Most parents in the Unites States think that is okay for kids to get a good hard spank, even though data says this is the least effective form of discipline. It’s time for us to re-consider this, don’t you think?


Santa Claus spanking woman with christmassy hat
Naughty or nice? If you were spanked as a child, you’ll probably say naughty. Am I right?

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