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Spanking is the action of hitting a person’s breech with the intention of causing short-lived pain without making physical harm. Spanking can be done in many severe forms such as paddling, birching, use of strokes, whipping among others. Severe forms of spanking mean using an appliance instead of a hand. The act of spanking is perceived to be offensive in some cultures but is an acceptable form of discipline in others. Spanking is commonly used in disciplining a child or a teenager. Normally spanking means an adult, usually parents, guardians or a teacher striking a child’s buttocks as a disciplinary measure for unruly behavior.
Research shows that historically boys are spanked more frequently as compared to girls. It is illegal to spank children in some countries, but many others permit spanking, especially when it is done by a parent. Situations when husband spank his wife are acceptable in some cultures, however, the act has decreased as compared to the past. Spanking of an adult in some cases is regarded as a playful sign during social rituals as a form of having fun. Attitude towards spanking changed in most countries during the 1950s and 60s due to the publication by Doctor Spock of baby and childcare in the year 1946.
Dr. Spock’s publication advises parents to take children as persons, whereas the prior traditional practice had been that child upbringing should be focused on imparting discipline, for instance babies were not pampered by carrying them in arms when they start crying. It is clear that the transformation in attitude was followed by legislation. Recent findings indicate that in 2011 thirty countries all over the world have forbidden domestic physical punishment of children. Spanking in the continent of Europe is banned in twenty-two countries. In the Middle East and in quite a few parts of Eastern Asia spanking of children by their parents is acceptable by the law.
Research based on which groups spank or get spanked more shows consistent results. According to studies, boys are spanked more than girls are and mothers spank more than fathers do (Crary, 1993). Toddlers and children in preschools are the group that is spanked quite often. Studies of income and spanking indicated that parents from poorer sections of the population spank children more often. On spanking and education findings showed that parents who are highly educated rarely spanked their children. Religious conservatives were also another group that favored spanking. A popular method of spanking was making the child lay with its stomach down, across the parent’s lap, with the parent striking the child’s buttocks with his hand.
Spankings may be given over the trousers, over the underclothes or on bare buttocks. Many people, who acknowledged spanking, argued that the bottom was the most suitable place of administering spanking since there is minimal danger of injury to that part of the body. There are different views on whether spanking is helpful or destructive to a child’s behavior. The views vary according to the nation and region. For example, research conducted in the US and the UK indicated that there is significant support for corporal punishment with the social standing of 61 to 80 in terms of percentage.
Scientific researchers and organizations of a child’s welfare have opposed spanking. Some studies have shown that it does not profit the child and it may encourage problems like anxiety, dependence and alcohol abuse among other problems that have been claimed. Research has also proved that spanking used in conjunction with reasoning was the most effective method of discipline in certain situations (Howard 2010). Experts recommend that physical discipline be restricted to a few slaps given by an open hand on specific parts like the buttocks and legs. Secondly, the experts recommend that spanking should exclusively be employed in disciplining children of ages ranging between two and six when other disciplinary methods are ineffective.
The experts also advise that spanking should not be done when the parent is angry since it may turn into abuse. Finally, spanking should be used as a back up to aversive disciplinary techniques and an enhancement to positive parenting. Spanking in the school setting was usually delivered with an implement such as a cane instead of an open hand. Spanking in schools has since been banned in schools of Europe, India and many other countries. However, formal caning has remained a popular form of discipline in Asian and African schools.
In the Christianity it is understood that God ordained spanking of children as a way of correction. The Bible contains various verses that talk and advise spanking. The Book of Proverbs says that whoever spares the rod has no love for his son, but whoever loves his son will discipline him. Another reading in the Bible says that folly is bound in the heart, but the rod of discipline drives it away from the child. The Bible also discourages withdrawal of discipline from a child and says that if one discipline a child with the rod he will not die. Lastly, according to the Bible, the rod of discipline imparts wisdom but a child left to him will disgrace his mother.
The word of God clearly addresses the significance and importance of discipline. The Bible, which is the source of Christian principles, has much to say, and the role of Christians is to condense the many teachings on disciplining children into a single lesson. In the Bible chastisement is taught as fundamental towards raising a wise child. The Bible advises parents to strive towards raising children who love and respect God and others. In order to understand discipline from the Christian perspective, it is exceedingly paramount to understand the meaning of certain terms. Instruction refers to the verbal and occasionally physical persuasion that is used to urge a child to adhere to some course of action. Discipline refers to the whole process by which a child is brought to obedient action.
Chastisement, also known as use of the rod or spanking, refers to the physical pain that is inflicted to help to bring a child to an acceptable standard and change of behavior. Christians are expected to care for their children through discipline and the instructions that come from the Lord. God the Father does not allow his children to wander away, but He gives them appropriate care to ensure that they remain on the right track. The same way that the Lord disciplines his children, parents and guardians and are also expected to chastise their children. The love of God compels parents and guardians to spank their children so that to help them to act with self-control (Talmage, Klopsch & Sandison, 1901).
The Bible confers to parents the powers to discipline children when they are doing wrong. Therefore, if a child is not disciplined, then it shows that the child is not a part of the family. According to the Scriptures, the Book of Hebrews, if one lacks discipline of which all have become partakers, then he is illegitimate and not a son. The Bible acknowledges that children have earthly fathers to discipline them, and they should accord them respect instead of being subject to the fathers of the spirits and live. It is said in the Scriptures that when earthly parents disciplined their kids, those children have grown to honor them. God the Father disciplines his children to create respect for himself. The need for a child to respect his father is necessary and therefore, need to fight for the respect through discipline.
Disciplining should be done for a greater purpose to help children to look beyond the scene to the future. Parents should look at the disciplining of a child in the similar way that an athlete looks at the result of training to win the prize. Therefore, the parent should train the child for the purpose of godliness (Wizner, 2008).
Spanking has been used wrongly by Christians and non-Christians and at some point constitutes children abuse. When spanking is conducted well, it assists children to grow in respect, self-control and with obedience to their parents and elders. Additionally, when spanking is done poorly, it results in annoyance and much sullenness that may harm children emotionally and physically. Studies indicate that spanking is appropriate when a child shows willful disobedience. Willful disobedience is not attributed to poor hearing, disability or the state of tiredness, stress caused from other problems, reactions to a harsh parent. It is therefore, essential to evaluate why a child misbehaves instead of subjecting him or her to unnecessary punishment.
There are benefits associated with spanking children. Studies indicate that young children whose parents spanked them performed better at school later in their life. A research by Calvin College, a professor of psychology, found that children smacked at the age of below six grew up to be more successful and that there was not substantial evidence to say that spanking harms most kids. However, the research indicated that those kids that were spanked after attaining the age of six grew up to have behavioral difficulties like getting into fights. The immediate effect of spanking on undesirable behavior was another benefit indicated by the research (Richards, 2003).
Penelope Leach, a parenting expert, argues that no good comes from hitting a child. The psychologist questions why would little children gain from corporal punishment while older ones were harmed by spanking. Research of the negative effects caused by spanking a child indicated that the impact of spanking three-year-old children was an exhibition of aggressive behaviors when the child reached five years. The study was unique since it aimed at sorting out the effect of spanking from other potential factors that could cause aggression. The study indicated that children who were beaten more than two times a month were 50% more likely to commit aggressive acts at the age of five.
Most pediatricians and psychologists agree that repeated use of spanking is more harmful than beneficial. The Academy of American Pediatrics opposes striking a child for any reason; they argue that if spanking a child is spontaneous parents should later explain gently why they had to do it. Psychologists recommend other strategies like rewarding ethical behavior, teaching children on non-aggressive ways of dealing with anger and frustration instead of spanking. Concisely, spanking with love and caution is recommended for imparting discipline and altruistic behavior in children (Kalat, 2011).
The purpose of recommending spanking when a parent is not angry but when filled with love is because the spanking is less likely to escalate to abuse because the parent will not be acting out of control. My lesson from the study is that authorities have acted without the Biblical knowledge with regard to legislation on spanking. The laws of nations should not forbid spanking completely but should rather come up with laws that regulate the way in which children should be spanked. The study has acquainted me with the best alternatives of dealing with misbehavior by children in addition to spanking and this will help me to be a responsible parent by abiding the country laws and those of the almighty father.