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 about 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  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. Spanking can cause brain damage and even a lower IQ. 
  12. 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?

6 thoughts on “Spanking–the gateway?

  1. Reynard Ransack

    By rights, I should’ve had my bottom spanked growing up in the 1950s and ’60s. I’d stolen, lied, been rude and played with matches. Several of my friends’ mothers kept wooden spanking paddles (“Heat For The Seat”, “Board Of Education”) in their kitchens. I should’ve had one used on me by either my mum or my oldest sister (my disciplinarians). They did sometimes threaten to spank, but I was invariably punished by the withdrawal of their affection.

    Corporal punishment had proven effective with me when I got the strap on my hands in Grade 7. I’d been playing at my desk when I should’ve been working. Along with another boy, I was called to the front of the class by our rather grandmotherly teacher (she was also the vice principal). She was no slouch when it came to punishing, and I may have actually preferred a spanking to the strap scorching my palms.

    I didn’t cry, but my eyes watered. As I shuffled ashamedly back to my desk, I was resolved to thereafter behave myself. I eventually saw no reason why having my bottom soundly spanked at home couldn’t have been just as effective. Both physically and emotionally, I was ideally suited to pants-down, over-the-knee correction.

    I was a shy, sensitive boy, respectful of authority, and yes, occasionally naughty. At the same time, I needed a certain degree of order in my life. I knew when I’d misbehaved, and how deserving I was of punishment. A spanking, especially on my bare bottom, would’ve essentially closed the book on any wrongdoing. In point of fact, the strapping in school was my only childhood experience with meaningful, memorable correction. Quite simply, never getting spanked only made it that much harder for me to learn the critical lesson of Actions & Consequences.


  2. Reynard Ransack

    The stinging and the shaming of an over-the-knee, bare bottom spanking is meant to punish a naughty child for his or her misbehaving. Such a spanking is employed by the adult authority as an uncompromising expression of insistence on the naughty boy or girl being held accountable. Their unwillingness to behave is thusly met with their bottom being bared and turned up for measured and methodical warming and reddening.


      1. Reynard Ransack

        Just the very idea of formally spanking a naughty child laid claim to my young imagination, Catherine. From the age of six, I had no control over it, and given that I never experienced spanking as a parental punishment, there was nothing in my life experience to argue against it becoming my secret fantasy playland.

        Admittedly, writing about spanking in forums like this is something of a release for me. The historical figure I can most easily relate to in this regard would be the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Of course, I never received the childhood spankings he was given, but we were similarly overpowered by our bottoms as the focus of our psychosexual development.

        Sincerely, I thank you for your attention here.


  3. Reynard Ransack

    The very fact of spanking (punishment on a child’s bottom) left me conflicted, Catherine. There was the incident when I was 10 or 11 and I was rude to my mum on the phone. She was a schoolteacher, and she’d phoned home from school late one afternoon. I told her she was interrupting my favourite TV show. When she came through the front door a short while later, her very first words to me were an angry “For two cents, I’d spank you!”

    She must’ve walked home thinking all the way that I deserved to have my bottom warmed – very possibly my bare bottom. She hadn’t yet ever spanked me, and when she got a call one evening from the father of a boy in her class who’d been naughty at school and had just had his bare bum spanked at home, she wondered aloud if I might not benefit from similar treatment. My oldest sister, also in attendance then, sarcastically chimed in that a spanking wouldn’t register with me because my bum was too fat.

    Jump ahead now to when I was 14, and my mum privately confronted me one day with a certain paperback I’d forgotten in the bathroom. To my face, she asked me if I felt I’d “missed out by never getting a bare bottom spanking.” We both had to have known the honest answer, but neither of us had the nerve to act on it. I melted in a puddle of teenage shame, and was told to “stop being silly.”

    When you talk about the effects of being spanked on a child, Catherine, consider the child who, by all contemporary accounts, should’ve been spanked – and wasn’t. I’ve lived all my life regretting never having been taken over my mother’s lap and spanked. Getting spanked came with the child-rearing territory back then, but my own needs for such punishment were neglected. Whether playing with matches or, years later, defrauding an ATM, I hadn’t experienced being held to account as a sound spanking would’ve almost certainly done.


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