In Scandinavia, anything entailing physical violence against a minor is considered a criminal offense (not misdemeanor). Spanking a child carries the same jailtime as beating an adult half to death.
I was quite shocked to hear that spanking is not uncommon in the US, in fact it is closer to the norm (correct me if I am wildly misinformed).
Do you think spanking or any physical punishment of a child is ever acceptable?
It was *once* closer to the norm, but now it's moving quite out of favor. (I remember, when I was a child, teachers could still paddle you.) There are still people who, through lack of any kind of child-rearing education and ability to effectively discipline their children, probably still spank--or some people who were raised to believe that spanking is perfectly normal and acceptable (rolls eyes). I would imagine that the balance is being tipped as capital-P Parenting has come into effect, though. All of the parenting books and mags say spanking is taboo.
I remember the episode of the sitcom Roseanne, actually, where she spanked DJ (her son) and practically had a meltdown over how sorry she was. That was more controversial then; these days, you have all of those nanny and mommy shows that absolutely condemn spanking at every turn, even when the mom is so frustrated that she looks like she's going to explode.
Myself, I absolutely don't think physical punishment of a child is ever acceptable. What does it teach? It teaches them to fear you and possibly hate you a little bit. I don't think it teaches them why they shouldn't behave in the manner that they were, and in that sense, it really stunts a child's moral growth--it teaches them that the "right" thing to do is the thing that won't get them spanked, but that's not always the "right" thing ultimately. It teaches children reactionary morality instead of truly learning right vs. wrong.
Hmm.. my mom is left handed (or wrong handed in scandinavian and she was forced to wite with her right hand. she can now write with both hands. at once. simultaniously. quite impressive.) However, even though she occationally defied her teachers demand that she'd write with her right hand, she was never physically forced to do so, and her parent complained about it to her teachers (my grandparents were delightfully rational). Both my parents were spanked by their fathers (but due to their mothers influence) and they vowed to never do that to their children as it disresses them to this day.
Your last statement I agree with wholly. Violence is seldom excusable, and never when in comes towards a fellow human unable to defend itself. Kicking a person who is down is not only bad form in boxing, it's bad form full stop.
I'm genuinely not sure what you're getting at re: the left-hand/right-hand story. Your grandparents complained that she wasn't physically forced? What I got was, the teachers demanded that your mom write right-handed, but she was never forced, but your (rational? or is that tongue-in-cheek? hard to tell on the internet with someone you don't know well) grandparents complained about that.
That sort of thing used to happen here in the US, too--a lot of left-handed children forced to write right-handed. Thankfully, no more--I imagine it's extremely stressful on the child, and for no good reason but to create little conformists.
She was forced to write with her right hand or fail the class and be dumped until she complied (essentially denying her an education). My grandparents were powerless against the school system even though they agreed with her.
My apologies for not making it obvious, sometimes personal stories seem daft without the whole background and its difficult to convey hundreds of hours of stories into an easily digestible format. :)
Didn't they used to believe (Catholics in particular) that left-handed children were in possession by the devil? It was something absurd like that...
Really... I honestly think parents this day and age are way too easy on their children... to the point that it is absurd. I am a pre-k teacher and I work with other people's children and I see what types of parental practices work and what doesn't. Parents who are to "free range" or "lassiez faire" typically have horribly behaving children and parents who spank their children as a primary means of discipline typically have horriobly behaving children. I've worked with at least 1000 families at this point in my career. I don't generally advocate the use of physical punishment but some children do not respond to redirection or time outs or whatever else you have up your sleeve ... those children do typically respond to a spanking here and there. I think you are overestimating the physical punishment my parents gave me and the physical punishment I am talking about... I got spanked maybe once every 2 months and when I did I realized I stepped over a major line. I agree that generally physical punishment is not necessary and when used too often is detrimental, when I have my own children I hope to completely avoid spanking them but if they really push the boundaries I might just resort to a whack or two.