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?

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And you can do so without causing physical harm, although even under those circumstances there are those who would like to see you jailed as though you had beaten someone half to death.  What then?  What do we do with the children who are left orphans while their parents rot in jails after having done nothing more than try to discipline their children?


I'm glad someone here seems to understand that you don't have to beat your child violently to administer a spanking.

Thank you for understanding what I'm talking about. Throwing people in jail for spanking a child will do more harm to the child than a parent spanking the child once in a great while when the parents are at their wits end with non physical forms discipline that are not working.





Yes, well I withdrew from this earlier when it became obvious that there are those who cannot conceive of a spanking that does no physical harm or that any consideration of it equates to daily beatings.  I withdrew, but I felt compelled to support you on this because now the emotional and unfounded counter attack is going to be lobbied against you as well.  Oh well, such is life.
Such is life indeed... I fully expected to misunderstood and attacked and will likely bow out of discussing this topic once I've said what I feel I want to say.
Yes, well this particular issue always brings out those who cannot accept that there is a range of physical intervention between 0 and injury.
Define physical punishment.
I don't approve of inflicting physical harm - case closed.
That you are so violent in nature that you cannot conceive of a physical intervention that does not cause injury is not something that I can rectify.
Now you are doing nothing more than moving the goal post.  You tried injecting the fallaciously binary conclusions of caressing and harm and still refuse to admit a middle ground.  Discussion over then - at least we agree on that.

@Heather: Instead of arguing from opinion, please attempt to find journal articles supporting your view.

Here's one I could easily find: "The results generally indicated a linear positive association between physical punishment and child aggression."

I would even go so far as to say that even if there is no negative effects of corporal punishment for children, it is still immoral behavior.


@Arcus - I don't speak for Heather but the reason I do not refer to studies is because every study on spanking that I've read including the one you've posted here cannot tease out if the results are the way they are due to causation or correlation. Some children inherently have more difficult temperaments is it that parents unknowingly resort to spanking those children who have more difficult temperaments and even without spankings those children would have otherwise showed a greater propensity towards violence?

Children are not born as blank slates they come out from day one with their own little personality and the way a child turns out is a complex interaction between their biology, their prenatal experience, the way the brain develops, their environment and parenting styles and so on.

- spanking your child so hard as to leave marks or bruises
- causing them to cower
- hitting them with an implement
- using spanking as a primary from of discipline
- spanking an infant or an older child 
- hitting a child with developmental disabilities
is not in any way healthy for a child but as Heater already stated parents spanking isn't an all or nothing black and white clear cut issue.

There is absolutely no evidence in scientific studies that the type of spanking I am talking about (used very sparingly, open palmed on the behind, used mostly for effect not primarily to inflict pain on children in the 3 to 7ish age range) is detrimental to a typically developing child. Another problem with these studies on spanking is typically they rely on self reporting or interviews ... while this sort of study is useful and the results should be taken into account they are not the be all end all gold standard of science. And a third problem with spanking studies are they often do not take into account what else could have caused or triggered a child to be more violent or they do not consider the idea that some children may be born biologically predisposed to being more violent.

@Becca: To cire the whole abstract:

"Previous research has rarely distinguished among the effects of minimal, moderate, and severe physical punishment on children''s antisocial aggression. Using a nationally representative sample, this study compared the effects of different frequencies of physical punishment on children''s reported physical aggression against other family members. In addition, the interaction of parental reasoning with physical punishment was examined. All analyses were repeated for preschoolers, preadolescents, and adolescents. The results generally indicated a linear positive association between physical punishment and child aggression. For preadolescent and adolescent aggression toward the parent, however, this association depended upon parental use of reasoning, such that spanking had a minimal effect on aggression for frequent reasoners. The combination of infrequent reasoning and frequent spanking was associated with dramatically increased aggression. The conclusion emphasizes additional unresolved issues about the effects of spanking, particularly the ambiguous direction of causal influence between parent and child." (My underlining)

The first underlining deals with your last point that the study is not valid due to innate differences. A representative study is in science accepted as valid for the population. To attack it on this point is therefore to attack any scientific study in any field which relies on sampling. There are of course weaknesses with sampling based studies, but these are taken into account by the researchers which presumably have an above average knowledge of statistics and know how to correct for such errors.

The second underlining clearly refutes your final paragrahs first point as there is a linear association, which is evidence that an increased use of violence leads to increased aggression (this also makes logical sense). Therefore a low level of violence will lead to a low lever aggression, but aggression nonetheless.

There are of course feedback effects, children which are hit hard have (by taking into account the linear association) a higher propensity to be hit even harder next time. If spanking is done with a belt buckle, a reversal to an open hand would therefore not have the same effect as the child will (we can presumably agree on this observation) think that they "got off easy".

Violence is a subset of force, and just like the police always have to justify the use of force, parents need to do the same. When force is done for good (protecting someone from themselves or others) it is deemed acceptable. When force is used for the sake of using force it becomes violence and is deemed unacceptable.

Of course I agree that there are innate differences in temper and aggressiveness, but the conclusion is the exact opposite of yours. Seeing as using violence to punish unwanted behavior leads to an increase in unwanted behavior (the linear association referred above), it is therefore not only (in my opinion) morally wrong, it is also evidently counterproductive.


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