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Spanking has emerged to be one of the most controversial disciplinary methods. This has led to the rise of debate on the issue with parents who believe in spanking being on one side while those who do believe that the children should not be spanked being on the other side. There are also some parents who believe that spanking as a discipline technique should only be used only in specific instances such as when their children run into the streets. As a result of parents and experts speaking differently on the issue, debate has raged on the efficacy and useful of spanking with both opponents and the proponents rising reasons to support their arguments. Despite the reasons developed in favor of spanking, it is imperative that parents and experts explore other alternatives as compared to it.
According to Straus and Donnelly (2001), some perceive spanking as "slapping a child on the buttocks"(p. 5). Others however conceive spanking as a universal word for any penalty such as the slapping of a child's hand because of them reaching to something prohibited. Pleck (2004) confirms that the term "spanking" seems to have in use as early as the 1780's, though it was not until 1830's that it came into common use. Furthermore, Straus and Donnelly (2004) confirm that the meaning of the term has changed over years with its denotation in the nineteenth century being giving light strokes with an object like a "maternal slipper" or hairbrush (p.5).
Spanking; controversial punishment method
Loseke, Gelles, and Cavanaugh (2005) assert that, there is controversy on the effectiveness and necessity of using spanking as a form of punishment on children. Despite the use of spanking as allowed by the laws of some countries, many experts as well as the public have come out to strongly object the use of it citing it demerits rather than its benefits.
Spanking reduces the efficiency of other punishment methods
Parker, Zuckerman and Augustyn (2005) contend that the use of spanking cam lead to other means of disciplining children to lose their meaning. Spanking is a means of punishment that is regarded to lack consistency and thus can lead to the decrease of efficacy of other means of punishment. For instance, a child who is prone to spanking at home can fail to respond to other forms of punishment such as extinction where attention is withdrawn when a child get involved in unbecoming behavior. As a result of this effect, many experts advocate that spanking should not be used the "first alternative" to disciplining children but rather a last resort.
Spanking develops aggression in children
Bornstein (2002) argues that the use of spanking has been associated with the development of aggression tendencies in children through modeling. With children who are spanked by parents learning how to socialize by using aggression in order to alter the behaviors of others, there is need to avoid using spanking as a means of punishment. Through the impulse use of spanking, children are like to develop a relationship between aggression and spanking. This will thus negatively impact the manner in which children interact with one another as well as with the adults around them.
Spanking leads to psychological damage to children
Marshall (2002) highlights that; researchers have found association in the use of spanking to the prevalence of emotional and psychological damage to children. With the use of spanking as a disciplinary method, children are bound to develop weak emotional relations with their peers and parents. This can encourage the use of violence as way of addressing conflicts in their environment. Therefore, to reduce the chances of children experiencing depression disorders and eventually turning to drug abuse, spanking should be avoided as a means of punishment.
Spanking is an abuse of children rights
Despite the fact that physical abuse is certainly not spanking, Hirschy and Wilkinson (2009) affirm that spanking of children can be highly regarded as abuse of children rights and that children who are often spanked have high chances of being physically abused. In this regard, spanking is not the right means of providing guidance to children but may escalate abuse of children rather than providing incentives that can promote positive behavioral change in them. Additionally, Hines and Malley-Morrison (2005), argue that some experts as well as human rights activists have voiced their concern about the use of spanking as disciplinary tactic that does not take into account the well-being of the child but it breaches the fundamental rights of children.
There are other alternatives to spanking
The use of spanking in disciplining children should be discouraged as there are other alternatives that are more effective and do not pose harm to children as compared to spanking. The use of spanking is known to cause other undesirable side effects. According to Samalin and Whitney (2003), parents can employ other techniques to correct children's behavior. Such alternatives include parents speaking firmly against misconduct, engaging children in dialogue as well as explaining the negative effects of misconduct. These alternatives will promote accountability and make children grow up well both emotionally and psychologically.
It is clear that the use of spanking as a means of correcting children is not only detrimental to the children but it is also violation of children rights. Spanking of children is likely to make them learn to be aggressive, develop depression and in some cases reduce their response to other forms of punishment. However, alternatives such as dialogue can be used to avoid effects of spanking.