Is Spanking Now Taboo?

Is it still socially acceptable to spank your child? Groups advocating for an end to corporal punishment in the US are hoping that the answer to that question will soon be a resounding no.

Though a recent article in the Washington Post notes that “most surveys show that between 70 percent and 90 percent of parents in this country spank their kids at least once during childhood,” organizations such as the U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children are working to change that.

“We don’t like to call it spanking,” says Dr. George Holden, a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University and the head of the Alliance. “Spanking is a euphemism that makes it sound like hitting is a normal part of parenting. If we re-label it hitting, which is what it is, people step back and ask themselves, ‘Should I be hitting my child?’”

While corporal punishment is now illegal in many parts of the world – 33 countries in Europe, Africa and Latin America at last count – the Washington Post notes that “So far in this country, even limited anti-spanking laws have gone nowhere,” pointing to failed attempts in California and Maryland.

It’s really entrenched in the culture. I do think we need a social movement against violence in the home,” says State Sen. Jamie B. Raskin, who sponsored the Maryland bill.

That’s exactly what anti-spanking advocates are trying to spark, hoping to “tarnish spanking’s image as a normal part of American life with a sustained behavior change campaign along the lines of the ones that cut smoking rates in half and made drunken driving a national taboo.”

They may not be able to affect what happens at home just yet, so the groups are focusing their efforts on driving corporal punishment out of public spaces such as daycares, hospitals and schools. It seems to be working: The article notes that 31 states have banned corporal punishment in schools while 30 pediatric hospitals have recently declared themselves “No Hitting Zones.

Parents are saying, ‘I don’t want someone hitting my child in school,’” says Deborah Sendek, program director of the Center for Effective Discipline. “That’s a step closer to their saying, ‘I don’t want someone hitting my child at home.’”

And while there are plenty of people in the research community and beyond who stand in support of responsible, cool-headed corporal punishment, Dr. Holden argues, “Most spanking happens when our blood is boiling and we react. Once you calm down, most reasonable people don’t want to resolve a problem by striking someone.

I wasn’t spanked growing up. I’ve never hit either of my kids and I don’t plan on ever doing it. The closest I came was with my youngest, my sweet, stubborn, hot-tempered 2-year-old. After she hit her sister hard enough to make her cry, I turned around and pinched her hand. Hard. “We don’t hit! We don’t hurt each other!” I said, regret already seeping into me. I was trying to teach her a lesson, and I guess I did: The next day instead of hitting her sister, she pinched her.


By Carolyn Robertson

Source: BabyCenter -


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This entry was posted in Child Behavior & Discipline, Child Brain Development, Child Health & Development, Parenting & Education.

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