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Old 11-27-2007, 10:20 PM   #21
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We were never spanked, hit, slapped or anything else as kids. Ever. Strangely enough, the fear of it alone whipped us into shape. Which potentially makes us dumb kids since we never caught on that they wouldn't actually go through with it.

My Mom was vehemently against it, and still is to this day.
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Old 11-27-2007, 10:54 PM   #22
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Originally posted by VintagePunk


You're not allowed to assault another adult in your own home. If a friend comes over and you don't like a comment they make, you can't slap them. For centuries, men were allowed - even encouraged - to physically reprimand their wives. Thank goodness that's changed. I think it's ridiculous these same rights aren't assigned to children.


pretty much my view.

i know most parents spank because they think it's the "right" thing to do -- and i think there's a clear difference between a spanking that's been threatened and then enforced as a specific punishment for a specific act and outright abuse. and i do think most parents would be able to make that distinction quite clear for the child.

but why do you get to smack your child, but no one else?
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:10 PM   #23
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Why do you get to regulate and control what, when and how much your child eats; where, when and with whom s/he hangs out; where s/he goes to school, how much TV and internet access s/he gets, when s/he goes to bed, and a zillion-and-one other forms of authority you don't get to exercise over other adults? Obviously children need and deserve rights, obviously they need and deserve protection from abuse and neglect by incompetent parents and other caretakers; but they aren't legally treated as adults, and it would be completely infeasible to do so.

A parent with no inhibitions about using plain old words to vengefully shame and humiliate a child can do way more damage than one who uses occasional spankings with discretion and restraint; it's much more a question of context and relationship dynamics than the precise form of discipline used, IMO.
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:33 PM   #24
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Originally posted by yolland
I'm not sure how well attempting to draft a law that 'defines exactly when spanking becomes abuse' would work, because then you're getting into murky waters like evaluating the overall emotional dynamic of the parent-child relationship in question, the parent's precise frame of mind at the time, etc. I can agree that those kinds of factors do affect a child's experience of spanking, that the level of force used isn't the sole determinant there. But I don't really see how you can quantify them. You could certainly legislate limits on the level of force itself (whether objects are used, whether welts or bruises result or are likely to, etc.); that much I don't see a problem with.

We haven't seen reason to spank any of our kids to date, but my own parents used it very occasionally as a punishment...I think my next oldest brother was spanked maybe three times, which was the most any of us got; my sister and I were both spanked once, my oldest and my younger brother were never spanked at all. From having talked with them about it, my sense is that none of us felt or feel any resentment, confusion or humiliation over it. The way my parents used it, it was a ritualized means of getting across that we'd done something not merely 'naughty' but pretty seriously wrong, something we knew better than to do and which had bad consequences for people other than ourselves. And they didn't do it in a way that conveyed rage or contempt. No biggie, at least not for us. I do agree that it's not "necessary," but that's true of lots of things that fall under the heading of parenting techniques. I think if you're going to argue that it should be banned altogether for not being "necessary," then you should also be able to show that it's innately damaging and therefore automatically inferior to other disciplinary tactics.
There are many studies out there showing that corporal punishment can be damaging. Here's one I found in about 5 seconds of searching: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/...48d1c2032aef73

Briefly, it has a high n (n = 4888), and it excluded any p's who reported physical or sexual abuse. Results show that there is a linear relationship between the frequency of spanking or slapping and depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol dependancy and externalization of problems. People who were never slapped or spanked fared best, those rarely slapped or spanked had higher incidences relative to those who were never spanked or slapped,. while those who were sometimes or often spanked or slapped had the highest incidences of these disorders. I suppose you could say that this proves your point, that spanking used sparingly can have a positive (or at least nonharmful) effect. If this is the case though, then why hit your child at all, why not use another method? Why run the risk of miscalculating how often is too often, or how hard of a hit or slap is too hard? If you rarely need to use it, surely you can pull something else out of your parental bag of tricks to get the point acoss?

We have them so we can love and nurture them, teach and guide them, and share experiences with them. What seems inherently wrong to me is that we intentionally inflict physical pain on them in order to punish when we really don't need to. That it's physical pain that comes with at least some risk is reason enough to choose another method of discipline, from my perspective.


Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
Why do you get to regulate and control what, when and how much your child eats; where, when and with whom s/he hangs out; where s/he goes to school, how much TV and internet access s/he gets, when s/he goes to bed, and a zillion-and-one other forms of authority you don't get to exercise over other adults? Obviously children need and deserve rights, obviously they need and deserve protection from abuse and neglect by incompetent parents and other caretakers; but they aren't legally treated as adults, and it would be completely infeasible to do so.

A parent with no inhibitions about using plain old words to vengefully shame and humiliate a child can do way more damage than one who uses occasional spankings with discretion and restraint; it's much more a question of context and relationship dynamics than the precise form of discipline used, IMO.
The things you mention above that parents have control over their children and not of other adults all have a key feature - they do not inflict physical pain.

I do agree with you about the potential for harm with verbal abuse. I can't access any stats or studies at the moment, my school server isn't letting me on remotely, but I think it's fairly safe to say that maybe not all, but many people who verbally abuse their children also use physical punishment. It's all part and parcel of not having basic human respect for another person.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:02 AM   #25
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As people have said their is a huuuuuuuge difference from spanking with a belt or wooden spoon, or punching/kicking/pushing to the ground etc and a slap on the wrist, or bottom.

I was rarely hit when I was a child, but when I was it was for a REASON. One time I smeared toothpaste into the carpet, then proceeded to cut my hair and stick it to it. A stupid thing to do and I got a few slaps to the bottom for it.
Another time I was kicking a ball around. Mum told me to stop, I didn't kicked it hard and broke the TV. Another few slaps and grounding for 2 weeks for that!

The fact of the matter is, children are not these tiny fragile don't say a bad word or they'll grow up into sexual abusers or self harmers!!! type of people. They are rough and tumble. The need discipline, a consequence for their actions. While slapping is definately not the be all and end all, outlawing it is putting more and more power into the hands or someone who doesn't know what to do with it.

I am VERY VERY against child abuse, but im sick to death of people blaming everyone else over their fucking problems. You know what? My mum yelled at me, smacked me, sent me to bed without dinner on a few occasions, wasn't that affectionate but i'm healthy, well adjusted with a healthy self esteem. I ain't blaming a fucking dot on her, and I hate those "Studies" that say things like that. Take your own responsibility!
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Old 11-28-2007, 03:14 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by VintagePunk
There are many studies out there showing that corporal punishment can be damaging. Here's one I found in about 5 seconds of searching: http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/...48d1c2032aef73
It does look like a well-designed study. I skimmed through PsycInfo and the Ebsco databases back 10 years looking for more studies of that specific nature (longterm affective, cognitive and behavioral effects of spanking) and in addition to the one you linked, found another which more or less drew the same conclusions (Gershoff 2002), as well as two which found no significant relationships (Paolucci & Violato 2004; Slade & Wissow 2004), so I'm guessing this may be a somewhat contentious topic. (Apropos of nothing, I was also startled by how much of what pulled up were studies comparing parental discipline practices across ethnic and racial lines...I guess that's a hot research area?) Still, a good reminder about the importance of looking beyond the anecdotal ("Well, my parents...") with this issue--that definitely does tend to impose a bias; I can certainly acknowledge it does for me.

One thing I don't like about that study, though, is that it made no distinction between spanking and slapping (by which I assume a slap on the face is meant). Maybe this view is unique to my family, but while I've never personally used either, I'm MUCH more opposed to the latter than the former. My parents never slapped any of us (whoops, back to those anecdotes again ) and they certainly believed it was wrong to do so. To me, the problem with slapping as a form of punishment/discipline is that it's completely indistinguishable from what every kid recognizes as the most common and instinctive physical expression of aggression out there--they see other kids doing it to each other all the time during fights, they see adults doing it to each other on TV during fights. Slapping says: I'm extremely angry at you right now to the point where I can't control it, and/or I don't give two shits how much this might hurt you. Spanking, on the other hand, is ritualized behavior--you don't see adults turning other adults over their knees and spanking them, well at least not unless your parents let you watch the wroooong kind of TV--and is almost exclusively associated with parental discipline of children. Obviously that's no magic bullet against its being (mis)used as an expression of aggression, but to me the difference is significant; I'm highly skeptical that it's possible to slap your child in the face and NOT have the effective primary 'message' be (as it would be with most any other slap) "Shut the f*** up you stupid little snot"--something I've never said and never would say to any of my children. I don't however see spanking that way.
Quote:
I suppose you could say that this proves your point, that spanking used sparingly can have a positive (or at least nonharmful) effect. If this is the case though, then why hit your child at all, why not use another method? Why run the risk of miscalculating how often is too often, or how hard of a hit or slap is too hard? If you rarely need to use it, surely you can pull something else out of your parental bag of tricks to get the point acoss?
I don't really have answers to any of those "whys"--as I said earlier, I don't assume spanking is necessary; it's just that I don't see it as a priori 'bad' to the point where I'm comfortable saying, "This is always unacceptable." Certainly I would say that if you're using a belt, whaling away at the child over and over, or shouting, hissing, or glowering hostilely at them before, during or after the spanking, that is NOT in keeping with doing it with "discretion and restraint." At that point you'd be conveying pretty much the same message as a slap would.
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The things you mention above that parents have control over their children and not of other adults all have a key feature - they do not inflict physical pain.
True. I was responding to what I took to be the implication that children's rights to not have their liberties of the person interfered with should be equal to those of adults, not suggesting that all said forms of interference are necessarily morally equivalent. I agree that when, how often, and how to spank is in practice more 'loaded' than most of those.
Quote:
I do agree with you about the potential for harm with verbal abuse. I can't access any stats or studies at the moment, my school server isn't letting me on remotely, but I think it's fairly safe to say that maybe not all, but many people who verbally abuse their children also use physical punishment. It's all part and parcel of not having basic human respect for another person.
I think the association may be the other way around--that physical abusers are almost always also verbal abusers. I will say (again, falling back on personal anecdotes here) that I can't recall the parent who did the (rare) spanking in my family growing up ever being verbally (or physically) abusive, whereas the other parent (who 'never laid a hand on anyone') unfortunately resorted to quite a lot of verbal abuse, especially in our early-to-mid-teenage years, and it definitely did some damage. Nothing worth a pity party over, but enough that my sniveling inner teenager can't help laughing bitterly at the idea that I should be less disturbed by the latter parent's "disciplinary" tactics than the former's. Personally I wouldn't rather have had the law involved in monitoring either, though.
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Old 11-28-2007, 05:08 AM   #27
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Well, I experienced both: physical abuse from my father and the very, very rare spanking from my mom and I can tell you there is a WORLD of difference between the two.
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Old 11-28-2007, 05:19 AM   #28
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Old 11-28-2007, 08:21 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

but why do you get to smack your child, but no one else?
Good question, I've always wondered same. Maybe because it's in the name of discipline. People used to discipline their wives too I guess. Some people really do not now where discipline ends and abuse begins, believe it or not.

Spanking law won’t hit where it really hurts
By Peter Gelzinis | Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com

Banning spanking in one’s home is a lot like compelling people to wear seat belts in their cars. As well-intentioned as both notions may be, they are completely unenforceable.

To be cited for not wearing a seat belt, you must first get caught speeding, running a red light or plowing your car into something or someone. At which point, seat belts are the least of your problems.

It’s pretty much the same thing for the “anti-spanking” bill Lexington Rep. Jay Kaufman will present for a State House debate this morning. The spare-the-rod-spoil-the-child, government-out-of-my-life crowd is sure to be in full froth before a throng of local and national media.

House Bill 3922 has nothing to do with creating any kind of super-duper reconnaissance to see if little Johnny is getting whacked for talking back at the dinner table. Because, let’s face it, that’s impossible.

Yet that is exactly how talk radio, “Good Morning America,” the “Today” show, CNN and that self-appointed guardian of American values and loofah sponges, Bill O’Reilly, will play it: One more liberal plot to undermine parents’ rights . . . not to mention a tantalizing counterpoint at Santa time.

Never mind that the legislation written by Kathleen Wolf, an Arlington nurse, has several references that excuse “minor physical contact” by a steamed parent looking to administer some discipline . . . i.e. a purposeful tap to the rump. It even goes on to allow for “the reasonable use of force” by a parent to defend against the child who decides to strangle Mom with Dad’s belt.

“I am keenly aware,” Kaufman said yesterday, “that bills are very dull instruments when it comes to trying to legislate good behavior. But what I’m grateful for with this is the chance to engage the public in a conversation on the troubling, almost epidemic rise, in the number of child abuse cases we see each year. It has simply become unacceptable, and if a bill like this can shed some more light on the issue, then the effort is worth it.”

I am old enough to remember when corporal punishment was a fundamental part of the public school experience in Boston. Along with an inventory of books, paper and pencils, each teacher I had from elementary school on had access to a thin, two-foot switch of rattan affectionately known as “The Stick.”

It could come down across your knuckles or the tips of your fingers for any number of misdemeanors. I’ve often wondered where the Boston School Department purchased its supply of Sticks. Hard to imagine a place like, say, Staples carrying an inventory of bamboo designed for whipping. But then, I can’t imagine today’s kids actuallyholding their hands out for three or four whacks.

When he was traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday, Jay Kaufman said he found himself waiting in line at the Los Angeles airport not far from a 3-year-old in full meltdown. The child simply would not stay still, Kaufman recalled, and eventually wandered away from his mother and into some pretty heavy pedestrian traffic. As Mom was bringing the child back, she gave the little girl a firm whack on the tush.

No, Rep. Kaufman did not signal for a citizen’s arrest. But then, when it comes to spanking, every parent is convinced they know how to do it just right, and it’s none of anybody else’s damn business - least of all the state.

Problem is, DAs across the state this year charged about 5,000 people with not knowing where discipline ended and abuse began. Aside from all the righteous indignation and chest pounding, House Bill 3299 is not likely to impact the rising tide of child abuse in this state, let alone become a civil law.

“If all this (bill) did was get more parents thinking about how they discipline their child,” Kaufman said, “that would be success as far as I’m concerned.”

Problem is, the parents who might think about such a measure before spanking their child are not the ones who show up at an ER with a battered child. It’s a little like those drivers who never gave a thought about a seat belt law until they went through the windshield.
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:40 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
Why do you get to regulate and control what, when and how much your child eats; where, when and with whom s/he hangs out; where s/he goes to school, how much TV and internet access s/he gets, when s/he goes to bed, and a zillion-and-one other forms of authority you don't get to exercise over other adults? Obviously children need and deserve rights, obviously they need and deserve protection from abuse and neglect by incompetent parents and other caretakers; but they aren't legally treated as adults, and it would be completely infeasible to do so.


but i can control what other adults do in my house. i can kick them out if they use inappropriate language, make offensive comments, i can refuse to let others use my DVD player if they want to watch inoffensive things. there are a zillion-and-one different ways in which i can regulate the behavior of others whilst in my own home, but i cannot ever hit another adult in my own home (or anywhere) unless it's in self defense.
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Old 11-28-2007, 10:41 AM   #31
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I was spanked as a kid. It didn't make any real difference in my behavior except to teach me that my mother simply didn't get it. You can hit me all you want, but I'm still going to do any number of things you don't like. I'm just going to be much, much sneakier about it.

If you have to hit your kid, no matter what your reason is, you have a problem. After all, if you want to teach your kid that hitting doesn't solve the problem, then you're going to have to restrain the urge to hit yourself.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:10 PM   #32
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I think spanking's not terrible, and there's some exxageration here about spanking's effects. I don't mind the law. Parents will always find ways to discipline their kids. My parents rarely spanked, probably for me once or twice ever, a few more times for my more "rebellious" brothers. I don't really care one way or the other.

The bottom line is that this really has no effect on real parental issues.
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Old 11-28-2007, 05:59 PM   #33
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It's very difficult to argue against anecdotes, so I shall refrain from that. However, I've seen both sides of the coin in regard to parents who rarely spank, and those who use it as a frequent means of discipline, and I still maintain that the risks to kids who are spanked more often than rarely outweigh any benefits to kids who are only spanked rarely. If a parent needs to spank frequently, there are obviously deeper issues that need to be addressed with regard to parenting skills and child behaviour. If a parent is only spanking rarely, it would seem that the kids are probably generally well behaved, and so the parents are obviously doing something right. I question their need to spank at all, when there are other means that can be used that don't involve physical pain to the child. And, with that, I suppose I'm out of the discussion for the time being.
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Old 11-28-2007, 06:21 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by VintagePunk
If a parent needs to spank frequently, there are obviously deeper issues that need to be addressed with regard to parenting skills and child behaviour.
I agree with you 100% here. Unfortunately, unless they get caught doing something outright abusive by current definitions, most parents in need of such addressing are never going to get it because they won't seek it out.
Quote:
And, with that, I suppose I'm out of the discussion for the time being.
Not on my account I hope, I'm enjoying the discussion.

I should probably try to look up some data on longterm effects of verbal abuse for comparison's sake (though that one's even harder to quantify), but I'm not sure I'll have the time tonight.
Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
but i can control what other adults do in my house. i can kick them out if they use inappropriate language, make offensive comments, i can refuse to let others use my DVD player if they want to watch inoffensive things. there are a zillion-and-one different ways in which i can regulate the behavior of others whilst in my own home, but i cannot ever hit another adult in my own home (or anywhere) unless it's in self defense.
Well, I can tell you that the one time I was ever spanked, it was for vandalizing some fairly valuable property of my father's and then trying to cover up that I'd done it (through what I knew fully well was recklessness, and not some innocent 'accident'). Had I been an adult, I could have been charged with a crime and required to pay for replacements. Instead, I got a few calmly but firmly delivered sentences about the wrongness of what I'd done, followed by a few quick smacks on the bottom. There was no protracted, withering tongue-lashing intended to verbally nail me to the wall and leave me cowering in shame (like my mother might've done), and there was no arbitrary "You're grounded for a month!" with no logical connection to the nature of my misbehavior (like some of my friends' parents seemed trigger-happy for)--neither of which I would have 'preferred,' not by a long shot. Just something out of the ordinary enough to make me realize that I'd done something pretty seriously wrong this time. Now if my father had been the sort who was always grabbing us and whipping us with a belt for talking out of turn, or hauling off and slapping us in the face and shouting "Shut up!" in public for running around in the grocery store or something...OK, then I could see going, "Wow, he really had some anger management issues that we got victimized for; I mean, what reasonable person thinks it's that big a deal if another person talks out of turn etc." But as it is, I just can't take seriously that there was anything to be distressed about there. My father was a fantastic parent, and I don't just mean that I loved him; I mean that I did and do look to him as a role model of how a really great parent interacts with their children. Was the way he reacted there necessary, no--as far as that goes, he could have done nothing at all, and there would still have been probably at least a 50/50 chance that I would never have repeated such behavior with anyone.

Once again, I realize this is all just anecdotes. (And for the record, none of my own kids has ever done anything that bad, in my estimation.) But the idea that there was anything warranting the intervention of the police there, merely because 'corporal punishment' was involved, seems utterly absurd to me. I certainly don't have a problem with laws against 'spanking' children with belts or whips, or striking them in any way that is likely to cause injury. I could certainly manage as a parent if corporal punishment were outlawed altogether. But I do find the idea of arbitrarily fingering any and every punishment involving physical contact as An A Priori Terrible Thing To Do very problematic, especially when my own experience tells me how many ways there are to damage your children without ever laying a hand on them at all, ways it would be truly impossible to police. And there are always going to be parents who abuse those prerogatives; you will never be able to stop it.
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Old 11-28-2007, 06:40 PM   #35
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Just want to give a to yolland. You've articulated everything way, WAY better than I could hope to.

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Old 11-28-2007, 06:41 PM   #36
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Originally posted by yolland



Not on my account I hope, I'm enjoying the discussion.
Not at all because of you, I hope I didn't give that impression!

I just recognize that it's a very heated issue, one that people can't really help but bring their personal biases to. After all, it's ingrained in us that in all but the bleakest of circumstances, our parents want the best for us, and have our best interests in mind when raising us, and being critical of them just seems disloyal, somehow. Parenthood is probably more entrenched in our identities than anything else - more so than our professions, our political leanings, etc. I don't disagree that in many cases, kids who were spanked turn out to be just fine, but I also know that there are many who aren't.

Another point I completely agree with, and what is at the crux of this thread are the inherent difficulties that would go along with legislating these behaviours. Unfortunately, that's out of the realm of my knowledge exactly how such legislation would be implemented, but I can imagine it would create vast problems. I very briefly read that Sweden has enacted legislation similar to this, but that rather than using the court system/criminal model, they use education as a means to teach alternative methods of parental discipline techniques to offenders. I think that would be the preferred method of dealing with something like this.

Eta - Yolland, I'm also interested in the rates of parents who spank who also verbally abuse their children, and also, the directionality of the correlation. I tried to google it, but it seems that it's too specific a question for google, and much to my frustration, I still can't get onto the database of journals I normally use.
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Old 11-28-2007, 08:03 PM   #37
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Quote:
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But no one said anything to the contrary.
Actually, it would seem that almost everyone on this thread (witht the notable exceptions of Yolland and phillyfan coming to mind)) so far IS saying that there isn't much a distinction between between abuse and spanking.

With apologies to Hinder. . . , a prime example:

Quote:


If you have to hit your kid, no matter what your reason is, you have a problem. After all, if you want to teach your kid that hitting doesn't solve the problem, then you're going to have to restrain the urge to hit yourself.
Spanking is not the same as "having to hit your kid." Spanking isn't about "you pissed me off this time and now you're gonna get it" kind of problem solving (which is the attitude when any kind of violence is always used to "solve problems"). Spanking isn't about giving in to an "urge to hit."

The sad reality is that many parents who DON'T believe in spanking may end up hitting because they are pissed off and lose it. Anytime a parent is lashing out in anger, that's not spanking, at least as I understand it. Even as a kid, I never confused the very rare, "ritualized" spankings I received from my mom (Yolland's description of the spanking from her dad captures almost perfectly what that was like) with slapping my sister or any other kinds of violence. In fact, one of the three times in my life I was spanked by my mom was for hitting my sister. I never hit my sister again and the message my mom wanted to send--that violence against women was a Serious Wrong has stuck with me for life. Ironic, huh.

I'm wondering if these studies drew any kind of distinction between the "kinds" of spanking that went on?
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Old 11-28-2007, 09:11 PM   #38
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I don't think spanking the way Sean describes it is a big deal, but I guess I don't really see what it accomplishes? The only time I can recall being physically reprimanded was when I was about 11 and my dad slapped me across the face. All I learned is that dad *will* go so far as to slap my face. I don't even remember what I did or said that got me slapped, so I don't really see the lesson or the purpose. I'm not scarred for life or anything, I really don't care, just don't see the point....
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Old 11-29-2007, 02:33 AM   #39
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I think asking what the "point" is may be a bit like asking why it's "necessary"...there's really no definitive answer to that, just as there's no definitive answer as to what the "best" alternative way to handle a given situation would've been. In my case, the one time I was spanked, the effect of it was to reinforce for me that what I had done was, as Sean put it, Seriously Wrong--something that could've gotten me and perhaps my parents in big trouble if it'd been someone else's property, something which on top of that I'd tried to cover up. It wasn't a simple question of words, either the easy "Don't do this" kind (I already knew that much anyway) or the equally easy "I'm sorry" kind. Precisely because my father very seldom spanked, and was clearly in a calm state of mind when he did it, I got the intended "point"...Here is something you need to understand was Seriously Wrong; something of a sort you should never do again.

Now if he'd instead been obviously angry and slapped me across the face, yeah, I think all that would have told me is, Wow he's mad, and yes he can hit when mad. For reasons I explained a couple posts back, I doubt that slapping your child in the face is ever likely to convey much of any "point" beyond that. Does that mean one isolated instance of slapping in a fit of exasperation is a sign that parental counseling is needed...I don't know. I guess personally if I ever found myself losing control to that degree with my child, I'd feel it was time for me to talk a counselor. But I'm not really comfortable saying that one isolated incident like that establishes definitively that the parent-child relationship in question is troubled, either.

The value of anecdotes with issues like this, I think, is that they illustrate the extent to which broader, underlying family dynamics play into how we experience various parent-child interactive behaviors. I could think of any number of things that might have made me feel quite differently about that one spanking I got. If my father had also had a pattern of being verbally abusive to me...if he'd been a remote and chilly alcoholic who only noticed us when we displeased him...if he'd been notably biased as to which of his kids got punished and when...if he'd had a pattern of displaying aggression towards my mother...any one of those things, and more, might well have affected how I experienced that incident, because then maybe I would have had existing resentments ('Don't you push me around, you hypocrite bastard') or fears ('Oh shit, what's he gonna do THIS time') or whatever else that might have cast a different light on it altogether. The same is true with words-alone disciplinary tactics, as well as other types; in a family, nothing happens in a vacuum. I would never presume to tell someone who did recall as traumatic a small handful of spankings from their parents, "Oh boo-hoo, just grow up and get over it," because I don't know enough about their family dynamics to make that call.

I'm well aware that there are many parents out there who abuse the disciplinary options they see as open to them. I had several friends growing up whose mother and/or father thought nothing of smacking them in the face and shouting, "Shut up, you stupid brat"; dragging them across the room by the collar then pulling their pants down to lash their bare bottom with a belt; shouting profanities at them until red in the face; or abruptly grounding them for 2 weeks or a month so often that they might as well have locked the front door and thrown away the key. Those kinds of things shocked and frightened me, because my own parents never did anything like that, and it all seemed so menacing and chaotic. I've always assumed that at least some of those tactics already meet legal definitions of child abuse as is, but maybe I'm wrong there. So I can definitely appreciate VintagePunk's well-put point here--if I can appeal to what a great parent I'm convinced my father was as evidence that it wasn't a Bad Thing when he spanked, well, then who's to say that some of those aforementioned childhood friends might not say the same thing about theirs? Because probably a few of them DO say that (and, sadly, probably some of them are now using the same "disciplinary" tactics on their own kids, too).

I guess what bothers me about the idea of legislatively proscribing these kinds of things (well, at least those which fall under the 'corporal punishment' heading) isn't that I see some innately 'redeeming' value in spanking--or any one other method, really--in its own right, so much as the conceit that we can assign some intrinsic emotional-damage cost to it in the abstract, then use that to justify legislation. I do recognize that ultimately, pretty much all parent-child interactions could be said to fall on a continuum, and you have to draw certain lines in the sand for children's sake...I just think you can sensibly parse these things only so far. I guess I would have to look at the proposed legislation in question and see exactly what it says, what it offers in the way of yardsticks.
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Old 11-29-2007, 08:31 AM   #40
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I get very uncomfortable when I see people "spank" their kids in public, and I have seen cases where it goes far beyond spanking in my mind-to the point where I wonder what will happen to the child when they get home. Does anyone else? So if it makes people feel like that when it is done in public why is it somehow more acceptable if it is done in private?

By Laurel J. Sweet | Thursday, November 29, 2007 | http://www.bostonherald.com

After all the jokes, the bitter backlash and the political spin put on a proposal to outlaw spanking, it took one man’s unabashed show-and-tell to unify a State House hearing room in silence yesterday.

“My mother, as a child, was tied to a bed post and beaten, so she in turn beat us that way,” Jerome Frazier, 52, of Dorchester testified matter-of-factly as he pulled from a plastic grocery bag the black leather belt and electrical cord he said he was thrashed with as a boy.

“I was in a gang. I was a terror,” said Frazier, who walked in off the street to offer the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons With Disabilities a piece of his mind.

Rep. Mary Grant, a Beverly Democrat and one of the legislators asked to study what would be this country’s first outright ban on corporal punishment of children, could not hold back her tears.

While she believes “most people are doing just fine by their kids,” Grant said, “we’ve all got to carefully think through” what constitutes acceptable violence in the home.

Kathleen Wolf, the softspoken Arlington nurse who brought the now-national debate to the Legislature’s table, said she doesn’t want to see moms and dads criminally punished for meting out discipline, just educated on alternative methods of parenting.

“We clearly need to specify what implements may not be used,” Wolf testified.

Evelyn Reilly, director of public policy for the Massachusetts Family Institute, urged committee members to do nothing, saying “many” kids “require a measured smack on the behind.”

“This bill is trying to impose a one-size-fits-all encroachment on families,” Reilly said. “You can’t always reason with a child.”

Teresa Whitehurst, a clinical psychologist, mother of two and author of “How Would Jesus Raise Your Child?” said the bill would “prohibit” the wielding of belts, switches, sticks and other paddles on children, where currently no such law exists.

“Spare the rod and guide the child is what I say,” said Whitehurst, who as a kid “was spanked a lot.”

“We’re moving toward being the first nonviolent state in the nation,” Whitehurst said. “Massachusetts is uniquely poised to be a leader in this regard.”

Corporal punishment of children is already illegal in 19 other countries, none of them in North or South America.
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