Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Three Bad Reasons To Hit Children

Yesterday I put up a flowchart explaining the ridiculous logic that somehow gets us to where parents are allowed to hit their children (and some teachers allowed to hit their students) in the United States.

It's no wonder that parental corporal punishment has been outlawed in 26 countries since 1979. Because people who hit children don't have very good justifications for doing so. Here are what I think are the three most popular ones, followed by my responses:

Reason #1: It's the best way to discipline a child. 
Response: It's simply not. Check out this awesome article, if you don't believe me. Here is a quote:
Researcher Elizabeth Gershoff, Ph.D., in a 2002 meta-analytic study that combined 60 years of research on corporal punishment, found that the only positive outcome of corporal punishment was immediate compliance; however, corporal punishment was associated with less long-term compliance. Corporal punishment was linked with nine other negative outcomes, including increased rates of aggression, delinquency, mental health problems, problems in relationships with their parents, and likelihood of being physically abused.
Reason #2: God told me to do it.
Response: If you are looking for a reason to hit your child (call it spanking if you want, it's still hitting), then you can probably find something in the Bible that you can interpret as permission to do so. I doubt I will change your mind.

But, for those of you who are uncomfortable with the idea of hitting your child, rest assured that you can find the opposite in the Bible as well. In my seventeen years attending Catholic schools, I read a good bit from the Bible. And I found out that Jesus was a kind and compassionate man. I imagine he would be horrified by anyone hitting a child. But maybe that's just me. And Jen. And 180 people in this Facebook group. And the 3000 people who like this page. Ok, so it's definitely not just me.

Reason #3: My parents did it to me, and I survived.
Response: I have already shared why I think this is a terrible justification of anything. Yes, lots of people get spanked, and most of them live to tell about it. But some people survive other really terrible things, like being shot or run over by a car. That doesn't make those things OK either. Let's aim higher than survival.


The wikipedia article on Corporal Punishment says:
This article is about punishment involving pain, not designed to cause injury.
I imagine inflicting pain without injury is like throwing water on someone without getting him wet. As in, it's not possible. If you are hitting your child, you are hurting your child. If you don't like hurting your child, you can stop.

You don't have to be ashamed if you have been hitting your child. Just stop.

Need more help? Here is a list of a bunch of links about corporal punishment, and why it is unnecessary, ineffective, and harmful to the child and the parent-child relationship.


  1. Excellent, as always! Thank you so much for your inspiring posts. <3

  2. I posted on the other page and know I will be deemed horrible, but just to clarify for those who might agree or even disagree: I agree with all of this. My opinion previously shared applies to me and my family, not in reference to others, and "last resort" is literal, whereby it's a thought out and purposeful discipline, not executed as a reflex. One that I hope to never use, and may never since I work at not doing it more than figuring out how to ;)

  3. @Hollie, Thanks for the comment. I just responded to your other one. I basically said the same thing as you are saying here, which is, If you start out thinking you will never do it, then you will be more motivated to figure out a different solution. :)

  4. OK, I get all the no spank and I really try to refrain from doing so, So - how do I stop a biter? Bites when provoked, bites for what appears to be no reason, bites when tired. He likes to bite. Help!

  5. You can see and download a PDF of Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff's comprehensive 57 page report,"Report on Physical Punishment in the United States: What Research Tells Us About Its Effects on Children", at the following link:


    A free copy of "Plain Talk About Spanking" is available from PTAVE. Visit www.nospank.net/offer.htm

  6. @nursinmamaa, Biting is a tough issue. If he is doing it that much, it means he has a strong need to bite. In that case, maybe you could offer him lots of different things he CAN bite. You might play a game with him where you have many different items of different textures (soft, hard, different levels of squishy, etc). Let him play out his need to bite on non-human objects.

    Try to find out a favorite thing for him to bite, so you can offer that to him when he gets heated and you can see he is about to bite a person.

    How old is he? Does he use a pacifier?

  7. I always find the "It happened to me and I survived" or "I turned out ok" excuse to be the worst. You never hear, "I was molested and I turned out ok, so I should molest my kids too!"