Should children be spanked? : LUSENET : Catholic Pages Forum : One Thread

Do you think children should be spanked?

Why? or Why not?

Regards, Paul McLachlan Webmaster,

-- Anonymous, May 24, 1998


Good question, and a loaded one as well. As a mum of two children, I must admit I do spank my kids, but not until I have exhausted every other avenue of discipline possible. Here's a story that might give an example of how society views spanking.

A few weeks ago, my 2 children (5 & 6) went out to play and went down by a pond that we have told them repeatedly not to go by. This was the 3rd time it had happened in a week. My husband was furious and not only gave them a loud and stern reprimand, he also spanked them. About an hour after the whole scene was over and things were back to normal,children playing happily in their bedroom, there came a knock on the door. Our neighbors had called the police and reported us for abusing our children! It was the most humiliating thing I have ever been through. They made me take the children into the bathroom and take their clothing off to show the police that they hadn't been abused and had no marks on them. Quite a humiliation for my kids, especially my 5 year old son.They didn't have a mark on them. Case closed? Nope, the police told us that there would be a record of the incident on file at the police station and that if anything like this ever happened again, we would be put in jail, with our children taken away from us and child protection involved. I'm a good Catholic mum, I've only spanked their behinds maybe 3 times in their entire lives. But I'll tell you this, I'll never lay a hand on them again. Not because I think that spanking is wrong, I don't. I think it's a viable discipline tool once other methods have been tried. But if the police can come in and just take your children away, the risk is too great. I hope maybe this post saves some other family from going through what we did. In Washington State,at least, spanking is illegal.

Sincerely, Jeanne Tindell

-- Anonymous, May 25, 1998

Ho boy! What a question. Sympathies to you, Jeanne. Just out of curiosity, where are you? Canada? USA? Elsewhere?

Personally, the story as you outlined it really makes this aspect of law sound completely absurd. Perhaps you should phone the police every day and report that you have not spanked the children that day and insist that they log this and file it along with signed statements from friends, relatives, and neighbors. (OK, I should point out that though it might sound nice in fantasy to bother the police this way, I don't think that's such a good idea in reality...but hey, if you're really bothered by the situation, you might want to ask a lawyer what avenues are available) Also along that same line, I think if *I* was the neighbor, I'd make a note of the incident and only report it if this happens every week or every day for a period of time.

By the way, I also happen to be one of those people who literally frowns at any child who is misbehaving, and smiles at any child who is an angel and compliments the parents if they are around. It's amazing how well children respond when a total stranger supports the parents discipline. I think they realize at that point that the parents aren't saying things just to be nasty and tyrants. There's a reason behind it. Anyhow, I digress. That's the topic of another thread.

On to spanking... I don't have children but I have babysat kids. And for the most part, they've been very good. A little rambunctious (spelling???) at times but that's it. There has been the odd one who simply would not respond to reasoned discussion, stern reprimands, or dire consequences (if you do this, you will get hurt and won't be able to play soccer any more). And I have had to resort to a swift wack on the behind. Is this right?

Well, in those incidents, I was preventing them from running across the street blindly or going into the ravine without my supervision. So I'm not too worried about this moral issue. If I didn't use every means at my disposal to protect them from harm, I'd be failing my responsibilities. A few tears over a sore bum is a fair trade to prevent serious injury or worse. Let me add that after the spanking, when everyone has calmed down, I think it's important to calmly explain the reasoning behind the punishment. Children understand more than we give them credit for.

NOW, what if the child is just being hyperactive and driving me up the wall? I can guarantee you this will happen when I have kids. And I can also guarantee you that this will happen on a day that I have a short fuse and no time to be patient, understanding, loving, kind, and all those other things Jesus calls us to be. And I can guarantee you that I'll probably yell and spank and toss them to their rooms, perhaps even without supper. And I'm certain that from their point of view, I will have grown horns and a tail.

So, should I feel guilty? Have I done something wrong? I've certainly been human. But is it wrong? I think so. Because I haven't listened to their needs. I haven't taken care of my charges as is my responsibility. I haven't addressed the cause of their hyperactivity (which is probably a result of my not giving them the attention they deserve...or perhaps it stems from a medical condition I'm too 'busy' to recognize and help with)

Anyhow, the long and short of my discussion is that spanking, in and of itself, is not wrong. The motivation behind it and use of it is the determining factor.

Anyhow, ask me again in a few years when I have a few little terrors of my own running around! Let's see how well I hold to my ideals!

-- Anonymous, June 15, 1998


The terrible thing about this whole incident is that if one of your Kids had drowned in that pond, you probably would have been charged with neglect.

IMHO, as parents we are damned if we do, and damned if we don't.

Your Brother in Christ

John Gibson

-- Anonymous, June 15, 1998

Spanking is a barbaric practice that will teach kids that violence is acceptable, which it is not in any case except defense. Parents may have good intentions but are only human and will undoubtedly react violently to minor actions when they are already stressed out. This will defidently give kids the wrong message. I know that when I was much younger and my little sister annoyed me sometimes I used violence that was totally unjustifiable and usually just a chance to vent frustration over things that had nothing to do with her. This also is why a friend of mine no longer hits his kid.

-- Anonymous, July 04, 1998

The answer to this question is as varied as children and situations are varied. My personal opinion is that young children who are putting themselves in a life threatening situation, sometimes a spanking will help deter them in the future. (A spanking given in love is NOT the same as beating a child in is discipline and one is abuse.) I also think the personality of the child has to be considered. We have 4 living children and all of them have such different personalities. Our 4 yr old daughter is crushed if you even talk to her in a stern voice. I would never spank her because just sitting down and discussing things with her works. But, just because this works with her does not mean I can generalize and say that this will work with all children, because all children are different.

One of our sons will follow his own will no matter what the consequences. He does occasionally get a spanking. (Not very often, we have a system of rewarding and punishing with beans...worth 10 cents apiece for allowance on Sat.--he starts with 10 a day and he pays me a bean for not following directions or receives a bean for good behavior----that works really well with him.) But, for example, we went to huge festival and he kept wondering off. We live in Brazil and he speaks absolutely no Potuguese and very few people in our area speak English. After he walked away from us the 4th time...after each he was made to sit out and watch his siblings ride a ride instead of being able to have a turn (this obviously was not detering him), my husband took him to the bathroom for a spanking. He is not a toddler, he is 6, was blatantly ignoring us and was placing himself in a very dangerous situation. If we hadn't found him within minutes each time, we quite possibly would never have seen him again. This was a serious situation with serious consequences. He needed to understand just how serious his disobedience was.

I think this is an issue that is really dependent on a situation/child basis. I think that other means should definitely be tried first. Punishment should always be administered in love and never in anger. The goal should be to teach a child that boundaries exist for their well-being and that going beyond those boundaries has consequences.

-- Anonymous, July 06, 1998

Interesting question. I've got three sons (11, 9, 7) and believe in principle that a very occasional slap is a good way of disciplining a child when all else fails, particularly in dangerous situations. But in practice, whenever I've used physical punishment on one of them (almost always when they've hurt a younger brother), I've felt appallingly guilty, and had to confess it the last time (times before that, I wasn't a Catholic). I think that the major problem is that, whatever my principles, I've actually only hit them in anger, and thus lost control; thus, a definitely sinful act. So for me, at least, no corporal punishment of any kind, and when I fail in this, I'll have to confess it.

Pax - Sue

-- Anonymous, July 07, 1998

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