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June 19, 2008 9:26 AM   Subscribe

CBC Filter: I guess parenting in Canada ain't what it used to be. The Senate wants to make spanking your children illegal and a Quebec judge quashes a dad's grounding of his 12-year-old daughter.
posted by thejimp (144 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
That Quebecois judge needs a spanking.
posted by illiad at 9:30 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


On what basis did the grounding case even get to court? Did she sue her own father? Or is this a case of the family court judge who decided the custody case now weighing in on minute aspects of the father's parenting?

Oh Trudeau, where art thou, keeping the state out of peoples' bedrooms?
posted by GuyZero at 9:33 AM on June 19, 2008


Wow - on the "grounding". Damned if you do (attempt to enforce rules with a reasonable punishment), damned if you don't - as you are still responsible when they eventually get into trouble.

Well, if the courts are going to determine appropriate child-rearing, punishments, etc - then they can pay and rear the children - but they cannot have it both ways.

(I agree with the no-spanking however, force is the weapon of the weak...)
posted by jkaczor at 9:36 AM on June 19, 2008


This article seems to point out a few relevant details that are not made very clear in the second linked article:
And while the case is raising some eyebrows, a tangled behind-the-scenes custody battle must be taken into account, said Montreal family law lawyer, Miriam Grassby.

"It's a very different situation than a child who might appear to not be be happy with the parent's decision and simply saying ‘I'm going to go court and I'm going to get what I want," she said. "And if in fact it's been portrayed that way, it's not putting in its complex context.

While the girl's father has full legal custody, pending a further court decision, the girl has been living with her mother, Ms. Fortin said. But while Ms. Beaudoin says the girl went to live with her mother when her father forbade her from going on the trip, Ms. Fortin contends that she was "kicked out" of her father's house over family tensions.

"In a situation like this where you're in contested custody proceedings, there's often a high level of conflict," said Ms. Grassby. "And one of the reasons that in Quebec that children have lawyers named for them is because the parents and the court recognizes that in high conflict situations it gives the child a safe place to first give their opinion, and get advice."
posted by christopherious at 9:40 AM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


To say "force is the method of the weak" doesn't make any sense to me. If you codified weak by saying, for example, ethically or morally or intellectually weak, that's fine. But you could just as easily assume the same thing about force, for example "Intellectual force is the weapon of the intellectually weak." Which just doesn't make sense.

And while I think that corporal punishment is often wrong, and should be strictly limited to parent/guardian, (and NOBODY acting in loco parentis), the fact of the matter is that intellectually, ethically weak people are going to reproduce. There will be people who have children who were themselves raised with corporal punishment as the backbone, or almost the sole method of punishment that was inflicted. Not all such people turn into monsters, or are incapable of knowing right from wrong when the threat of violence is removed. But there are a lot of people who just don't understand any other way to punish. You create an unrealistic utopia when you believe that there are always other methods by which to discipline.

I wasn't punished using physical force as a child, if I have kids I don't intend to use it. (I'm going to use horrible crushing constant guilt, it is a family tradition. And I'm not sure that it doesn't leave emotional scars, and a horrible aversion to taking risks, or responsibility for anything.)

I don't think we should take corporal punishment away from parents though. There is a clear distinction between a spanking and physical abuse, I don't think that it is difficult to tell the difference. No abuse, but spanking, yeah.
posted by SomeOneElse at 9:51 AM on June 19, 2008


As the article linked by christopherious points out, its hardly as if the judge just randomly intervened.

Custody battles can get weird. I'm a lot less worried about a judge overruling a grounding in a custody battle he's dealing with than I am about judges giving preferential treatment to one party or another based on religion. See this metafilter thread re: a judge's mad on against a woman involved in the Church of the Sub-Genius, for example.

As for the spanking ban, it seems impossible to enforce. Ultimately it takes a society maturing to the point where beating children is no longer seen as acceptable. It could be argued that a ban might actually entrench the idea of beatings by letting parents who wish to beat their children see themselves as bold freedomists holding out against the ever intrusive State. Personally, I think the ban will be beneficial, but I can understand how it could be perceived as being harmful to the cause of ending child abuse.
posted by sotonohito at 9:55 AM on June 19, 2008


Tiny little kids, 3 or 4 years old, don't yet have fully developed mental faculties. Spanking is a way to teach them important things - mainly, that when dad tells you something, you have to do it. There isn't time to debate the pros and cons of running into traffic or playing around the hot stove, and at times like these kids need to know that when daddy yells "hey, stop that!" he is serious, and there are serious repercussions for not listening to what daddy says.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:01 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


No worries there.

Don't forget that there are those who think that rewards and punishments, the two classic tools of parenting, are detrimental. Force is just the most blunt and obvious example.

It's narrow-sighted to think that parents should be allowed to raise their kids any way they want. That's a common argument bandied about down here in the US of A. If my neighbor's kid wasn't going to grow up and be the one wiping my ass when I'm old, senile and grumpy[ier], then it'd be different; let's not forget the variety of authority figures who can legally take out a poor childhood on me. But until I, my family, and my friends are allowed to tell police, bosses and other authority figures who had shitty parents to piss off, then I'm afraid that I (and the community) get to have a hand in how other people raise their kids.

It seems hypocritical that the people who cry about the state coercing them to stop spanking their children are the same people who are going to spank (read: coerce) their children to teach them that hitting Billy is Wrong Wrong Wrong. If you want to have authority, then you have to submit to the authority of others.
posted by burnfirewalls at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a precocious grade 6 student who can file court papers all by herself. But who knows? If I had that kind of acumen at age 10 I would have been all over it. I'm fairly certain I could have got ice cream for dessert on the grounds of a Charter ruling.
posted by bicyclefish at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2008


Tiny little kids, 3 or 4 years old, don't yet have fully developed mental faculties. Spanking is a way to teach them important things - mainly, that when dad tells you something, you have to do it.

You're trolling, right?
posted by effbot at 10:09 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I doubt he's trolling. Spanking is an effective way to teach kids that disobedience results in pain. it's a poor way to get kids to internalize values and make judgments based on something other than fear of retribution. Plus it generally builds resentment towards the parents. Overall it's a poor technique but it does exactly what he says it does.
posted by GuyZero at 10:14 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


No. Spanking was a useful tool for me raising my son, and it worked for my dad raising me, too.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:16 AM on June 19, 2008


it's a poor way to get kids to internalize values and make judgments based on something other than fear of retribution

Yeah, good luck with that with a three year old. They can internalize values and make judgments when they have made it to 6 or 7 in one piece.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:17 AM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


I thought it took a village to raise a child?
posted by A189Nut at 10:18 AM on June 19, 2008


I learned a valuable lesson from spanking. Specifically, I learned that if you're big, you can hit little people all you want, and there's nothing the little people can do to stop you.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:21 AM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


We don't use corporal punishment in my house. It's sergeant slaughter all the way.
posted by Mister_A at 10:24 AM on June 19, 2008


Pope Guilty, is that really what you learned? I learned that my dad cared about me and my safety more than anything, and that it was really important that I listen to him and take him seriously. A family is not a commune - the big people have to be the bosses.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:25 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I learned a valuable lesson from spanking. Specifically, I learned that if you're big, you can hit little people all you want, and there's nothing the little people can do to stop you.

And aren't you better for knowing that, or really the converse, considering that we are all little people compared to the police, the government, and Wal-Mart?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:31 AM on June 19, 2008


I got spanked two or three times when I was a kid and all it did was make me withdraw into my bedroom for the day, seething with hatred for my dad. I can't recall why I got spanked, but the resentment feels fresh when I think about it.
People always drag out the "running into traffic" rationalization, like the "you could get hit by a bus tomorrow" improbability, but grabbing the kid and firmly, loudly disciplining them with words works better and takes a second longer, really. Spanking is gross. (And hopefully you've talked to them about running into traffic many, many times previously anyway.)
When my oldest daughter was two she did something typically bratty and two-ish that got to me and as she was running up the stairs I smacked her on the ass. She totally freaked and I could see how betrayed she felt and I apologized and told her that I was wrong and would never do it again. It bothered me that I did it out of anger and my own weakness and we both learned from it.

This thread will go over like declawed cats but that's my 2¢.
posted by chococat at 10:33 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can have an opinion about if you think spanking is an appropriate punishment to be used on a child. You can try and convince me to side with you, and you can raise your child as you choose. However unless you have solid factual evidence that spanking is consistently damaging to the development of a child then you don't get to pass legislation out and out banning it.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:34 AM on June 19, 2008


Beaudoin said the justice also said there was no reason for the punishment to stand, since the girl was now living with her mother, even though the father has custody.

It's a custody battle, plain and simple... I doubt very much that it was the 12-year-old filing court papers to get the punishment overturned--this smacks of Mom and Dad having at each other through whatever means they can find.

And I'm sure the 12-year-old will come out of this with no maladaptive behavior whatsoever.
posted by Mayor West at 10:36 AM on June 19, 2008


Yeah, good luck with that with a three year old. They can internalize values and make judgments when they have made it to 6 or 7 in one piece.

You will not find one reputable animal trainer that uses physical punishment to train animals. They teach killer whales to do all sorts of things with nothing more than a bucket of fish.

As for making it to 6 or 7 in one piece without spanking, it wasn't that much of a challenge. Various other discipline techniques worked well enough. Every kid is different, so I won't say what was and wasn't necessary for you, but I don't think that it's true that 3 years olds in general need to be spanked. And now that my nine year old has developed what my wife refers to euphemistically as "a mouth" he seems like he could use a spanking a lot more now than he ever did at 3. But I doubt it would ultimately solve the problem.

So while I would never advocate spanking, it is purely on practical grounds and not because I am morally opposed to it. Making it illegal is a bit much I think and criminalizes some fairly innocuous behaviours while doing nothing to stop serious violence towards children. It's the same sort of zero-tolerance thinking that gets kids suspended from school for having cough medicine or a swiss army knife in the locker.
posted by GuyZero at 10:41 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Meatbomb Blow it out your ass. Spanking is not necessary to child raising. I was raised by parents who didn't spank, and miraculously I never ran into the street because my father didn't beat me.

I'm currently raising a kid of my own, and I know this will be a stunning surprise, but I've never beaten him and he's never run into the street either. I know, I must be some sort of godlike being to be able to prevent children from running into the street without beating them. I must have powers like Professor X, right?

Spanking has its place, and that place is between consenting adults involved in fun BDSM games.

If you lack the brainpower to figure out ways to keep kids from running into the street that don't involve beatings, perhaps you shouldn't have kids.
posted by sotonohito at 10:48 AM on June 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


Spanking is simply a tool in the toolbox of parenting WHEN DONE CORRECTLY.

I raised three kids. They were spanked appropriately. Not for childish mistakes but only for willful blatant disobedience. They needed to know that there were consequences for that.

When the spanking was over, the air was cleared, hugs were given, and it was made clear that everything was square. Much better than using guilt and withdrawal of affection, I'd say.

And as for timeout, I consider that a worthless producer of resentment.

Now when they are older, grounding is fine. But you do NOT reason with a four year old. When I see parents try to negotiate with a child it makes me feel they are afraid of it and afraid of their parental authority-authority which is a good thing for that child. Otherwise, who needs parents? Just go play in the freeway...
posted by konolia at 10:53 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty, is that really what you learned?

Yes, it was, and I resent your attempt to insert your psychological damage into my childhood experiences. Hitting helped to make me the authority-hating person I am today!

I learned that my dad cared about me and my safety more than anything, and that it was really important that I listen to him and take him seriously.

I learned that, too, but it had nothing to do with being hit by my parents and everything with my parents treating me as a person who is capable of understanding such things.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:56 AM on June 19, 2008


You will not find one reputable animal trainer that uses physical punishment to train animals

Raising humans is considerably more complex than training animals, not to mention humans have way more of an ego that wants its way when it wants it.
posted by konolia at 10:56 AM on June 19, 2008


If you lack the brainpower to figure out ways to keep kids from running into the street that don't involve beatings, perhaps you shouldn't have kids.

I would be in favour of a law banning people from being holier-than-thou-art. Way to support another parent there. Perhaps you keep your kids in line by insulting and demeaning them?
posted by GuyZero at 10:56 AM on June 19, 2008


They were spanked appropriately. Not for childish mistakes but only for willful blatant disobedience. They needed to know that there were consequences for that.

And beating them was the only thing you could think of?

When the spanking was over, the air was cleared, hugs were given, and it was made clear that everything was square.

That's about the scariest thing I've heard today.

But you do NOT reason with a four year old.

Your posting history would seem to indicate that you don't reason with anyone.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:58 AM on June 19, 2008


I have no problem with spanking, as long as we bring caning back as a legal punishment. If it is okay for some weighing over 100 pounds to hit someone weighing under 100 pounds as a form of punishment, then we should really start adding public caning to our portfolio of legal judgements. Speeders beware! 150$ plus 5 whacks!

At least with public caning a) it's done in public with full transparency, b) a more or less impartial judge hands down the ruling (and probably not while angry at the defendant); and c) you get a lawyer.

Sarcasm aside: Anyone who thinks spanking is a good idea lacks the basic judgement necessary to apply justice. Hitting people smaller than you is never okay. Never. Especially when they lack sophisticated self control and problem solving skills.

Never.
posted by ewkpates at 11:03 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I raised three kids. They were spanked appropriately. Not for childish mistakes but only for willful blatant disobedience. They needed to know that there were consequences for that.

When the spanking was over, the air was cleared, hugs were given, and it was made clear that everything was square. Much better than using guilt and withdrawal of affection, I'd say.


Christ almighty, I thought that dinosaurs like you were long dead.

Hitting people is wrong. Even when it's part of a loving relationship.

For all of those idiots that claim that they are hurting people for their own good, I ask a simple question: Is it ok for a cop to pull you over and beat you up for speeding? After all, we all know that speed kills. Right?
posted by veedubya at 11:07 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Beating out of anger is not what I understand as "spanking".
posted by Meatbomb at 11:07 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Beating out of anger is not what I understand as "spanking".

You can call it "collateral damage" all you want, there's blasted-apart civilian bodies lying around nonetheless.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:09 AM on June 19, 2008


If you hit an unrelated adult, it's assault. If you hit your own child, it's just parenting. WTF?

I get that very young children are much more physical than intellectual, and force is occasionally necessary, but let's not be complete hypocrites - violence is violence.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 11:11 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


However unless you have solid factual evidence that spanking is consistently damaging to the development of a child then you don't get to pass legislation out and out banning it.

Or...there should be legislation out and out banning it until there is compelling evidence that it is absolutely necessary to be able to spank children.

Why should it have to be consistently damaging? To physically assault someone without good reason is wrong, regardless of whether it permanently injures them. If there are some exceptional circumstances in which you need to spank, then these exceptions can be put in law, but sotonohito et al. suggest these situations do not exist.
posted by Sinadoxa at 11:12 AM on June 19, 2008


I get that very young children are much more physical than intellectual, and force is occasionally necessary, but let's not be complete hypocrites - violence is violence.

No see it isn't really violence because I'm just showing them who's boss.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:13 AM on June 19, 2008


I'd much, much, rather take a caning than a prison sentence of more than quite short duration. The focus on physical harm as trumping all other forms of harm seems off to me.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:17 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


man people always say spanking kids is important to raising good adults but smack the shit out of someone else's misbehaving kid at wal-mart and all of a sudden you're a monster
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:21 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can call it "collateral damage" all you want, there's blasted-apart civilian bodies lying around nonetheless.

Never ever spank when your power level is over 9000.
posted by Drastic at 11:26 AM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Discipline is always going to be controversial. It is the pitting of wills between two people.

I was spanked growing up (not beaten, and no they are NOT equivalent) and I think I've turned out pretty well.

I know many people who weren't and they also turned out fine.

I think that there are many ways to raise a child and no one really knows the best or right way.
posted by ozomatli at 11:29 AM on June 19, 2008


I'm satisfied with my own proof that spanking children gives them brain damage.

It's the only explanation for why despite promising myself I'd never, ever smack my own kids as my mother did me, I was tempted to do it when I became a mother.

Marrying a guy who was never smacked cured me.

The first time the adult you love looks at your raised hand - and looks at the kid you have together -then looks you straight in the eye and says gently "what on earth do you think you're doing?" - it'll stop you cold.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:34 AM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


And as for timeout, I consider that a worthless producer of resentment.

Naw, timeout is really effective, and I'm saying this as the kid, not the parent (not being a parent). It's most effective on social kids at a certain age (maybe 4 to about 12?) when there are other kids around having fun. Nothing like sitting on a chair in the kitchen being able to see the others all playing in the living room to really make you pay attention.

It doesn't work on asocial kids (for whom being isolated is not a punishment), and I think it works better when you timeout on a chair rather than in a room (which, no matter what room, always has books or something to fiddle with).

It's teenagers who are the problem - nothing worked on me or my brother other than finally letting us fall flat on our faces. The only way we could seem to learn was through painful mistakes, and sometimes not even then. No matter how much wisdom my mom shared (and she had a lot of wisdom), I couldn't really understand until I was about 20. And some of it seems to be waiting for age 40.
posted by jb at 11:36 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think that there are many ways to raise a child and no one really knows the best or right way.

Oh good grief. I was going to stay out of the rest of this thread but that is the stupidest thing posted so far. There may not be one "best" way but some ways are a lot better than others. Debating whether spanking is or is not effective or whether it has a place in modern child rearing isn't the same as saying "go nuts folks!". People who abuse their children - physically or verbally - are bad parents. And, as unpleasant as it is, the line between abuse and discipline is pretty thin. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a obvious zone of bad parenting.
posted by GuyZero at 11:36 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


No one really knows the best or right way? That's simply nonsense. It wasn't a problem for you, so its an acceptable solution for other people? That's poor reasoning. Discipline is controversial? No, no it isn't. I've never heard anyone suggest that time outs are physically or psychologically dangerous.
posted by ewkpates at 11:38 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


ozomatli,

Your attempt at balance and reason will not be tolerated here! (spanks ozomatli) You *must* be a middle child.
posted by thejimp at 11:39 AM on June 19, 2008


Wow. Fun thread. Since when did a good whomp on the butt equate to a life-altering beating? Christ.
There's a difference between beatings and a smack on the ass. You'll be able to find plenty of kids on either side of the argument who either:

1) Turned out fine (by being spanked / by not being spanked)
2) Turned out fucked up (by being spanked / by not being spanked)

I'm not judging anyone who smacks a kid on the ass every now and then. I will judge someone who beats a child, however.
posted by tgrundke at 11:42 AM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think that there are many ways to raise a child and no one really knows the best or right way.

Oh good grief. I was going to stay out of the rest of this thread but that is the stupidest thing posted so far. There may not be one "best" way but some ways are a lot better than others. Debating whether spanking is or is not effective or whether it has a place in modern child rearing isn't the same as saying "go nuts folks!". People who abuse their children - physically or verbally - are bad parents. And, as unpleasant as it is, the line between abuse and discipline is pretty thin. But that doesn't mean that there isn't a obvious zone of bad parenting.
posted by GuyZero at 1:36 PM on June 19 [+] [!]


So in my one sentence, where did I say anything that disagrees with your diatribe?

You agree that is may not be one "best" way. Which I clearly stated.

It appears as if the "stupidest" thing posted so far is something you agree with.

There might be something stupid into what you are reading into it, but that bullshit is all in your mind.
posted by ozomatli at 11:43 AM on June 19, 2008


I love it when people think that no matter what, there are no possible circumstances that something they despise could ever be needed or validated. Not ever. Not on a planet with nearly 7 billion people, each of which are the result of their own chaos map. Because, you know, their experiences are the only ones that could possibly be meaningful.
posted by illiad at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2008 [5 favorites]



No one really knows the best or right way? That's simply nonsense. It wasn't a problem for you, so its an acceptable solution for other people? That's poor reasoning. Discipline is controversial? No, no it isn't. I've never heard anyone suggest that time outs are physically or psychologically dangerous.
posted by ewkpates at 1:38 PM on June 19 [+] [!]


I knew I was wading into trouble in this issue...

If there is a best or right way sell a book and tell us what it is.

It wasn't a problem for me, but every child is different and need to be disciplined in a manner that best suits them.

Discipline is absolutely controversial or else this thread wouldn't be the powder keg that it is.
posted by ozomatli at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2008


Sinadoxa:

Because laws need to be kept to a minimum. Laws are there to make certain that our basic civil rights are protected and to maintain operating rules for the framework of government. Show me a NEED to ban spanking, then we can look at it, otherwise don't add to the bloat please. Show some faith in individual judgment instead of codified absolutism.
posted by MrBobaFett at 11:49 AM on June 19, 2008


ozomatli,

Your attempt at balance and reason will not be tolerated here! (spanks ozomatli) You *must* be a middle child.
posted by thejimp at 1:39 PM on June 19 [+] [!]



Gasp! Indeed I am!
posted by ozomatli at 11:51 AM on June 19, 2008


Beating out of anger is not what I understand as "spanking".

Yeah, you're supposed to act very serious and sad when you do it.
posted by roll truck roll at 11:54 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Senate wants to make spanking your children illegal

spanking other people's children, however, is just fine.
posted by jonmc at 11:57 AM on June 19, 2008


Was spanked. Turned out okay, I think. I know some parents who spank today, and I from what I see overall, they're good parents. I also know parents who think that spanking is the height of child abuse... and yet their children don't seem any better off. I can't find any pattern that suggests causality.

In fact, when I do a quick mental survey of all the adults I know who were genuinely abused as children, I can't think of even one example where the physical punishment (if there was any) was the problem.

A good parent can be a good parent and use spankings, or not. A bad parent, spankings or not, will always find some other much more damaging way to fuck up their children, anyway. The spankings, in that case, will be the least of the problems.

Which is to say: spanking or not-spanking is not the deal-breaker in raising children well. It won't produce monsters, it won't guarantee Nobel Prize winners. Everyone relax a notch?

(Also, everyone who quotes back another post on this thread but substitutes "beatings" for "spankings" needs therapy. Stat.)
posted by rokusan at 12:01 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


So in my one sentence, where did I say anything that disagrees with your diatribe?

So it could be all in my mind. Or it could be in your sloppy writing. Or it could be that both those points are irrelevant.

So, yes, we agree that there may not be a "best". But there is more definitely, most certainly, a right way. To say "no one knows the best or right way" indicates that there is no measure, no metric, no sense of right or wrong in parenting. And it's just not true. If there is a wrong way to parent (e.g. direct verbal abuse, breaking bones, malnourishment to name a few extreme examples) then there exists, by definition, a right way to parent.

To break it down further, "best" implies a quantified metric. so I'll agree there's no "best" in parenting. "Right" merely implies a moral direction. And to say "no one knows the... right way" is wrong.

On a side note, even if I accept that "no one knows the best or right way" without reservations, I dislike it. it's lazy. It's un-aspirational. It implies (but does not state, yes) that all methods of parenting are equally valid. There may be no one best way but that doesn't mean parents are off the hook from trying to be better parents.
posted by GuyZero at 12:02 PM on June 19, 2008


Simplify the law: People can't hit other people. Why do we have an acception to the law prohibiting assault?

Hitting your wife use to be legal. Many of the same arguments were used.

Here's some random google for you:

>Parents who were physically punished thirty or more times as adolescents (24%) were three times as likely as those who never received physical punishment (7%) to abuse their children physically.

>Based on interviews with the mothers of about 3,000 children, researcher Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire found that corporal punishment is counterproductive, resulting in more antisocial behavior by children in later years.

Parents may not see this "boomerang" effect because it happens over weeks or months, according to the study, which appears in the latest issue of the American Medical Association's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

>Children whose parents spank them or otherwise inflict physical punishment may be more likely to have sexual problems later, according to research to be presented Thursday to the American Psychological Association.

>In a review of the research published in 2002, 27 studies linked spanking with more physically aggressive attitudes toward other children.
posted by ewkpates at 12:03 PM on June 19, 2008


Spanking has its place, and that place is between consenting adults involved in fun BDSM games.

You know what's really awful, though? If the adult spankee wasn't spanked as a child, they lack the rich associative psychological soup they need to truly enjoy it as an adult. They might do it, but they just don't get it on a really deep, useful level.

It'd be like somehow developing a fetish for high heels without seeing any during your developmental years: I don't think it can't happen.

Parents, you're already saving for your toddler's college fund. Please also plan ahead and spank your children, if only to enrich their sex lives later!
posted by rokusan at 12:06 PM on June 19, 2008 [5 favorites]


Wouldn't things have been better if Josef Fritzl had just spanked his misbehaving daughter instead of giving her a 24-year time out?

See, now that's trolling
posted by klangklangston at 12:13 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


If you hit an unrelated adult, it's assault. If you hit your own child, it's just parenting. WTF?

If you force an unrelated adult to remain in your home against his will, it's kidnapping. If you force your own child to remain in your home against his will, it's just parenting. WTF?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:14 PM on June 19, 2008 [10 favorites]


If there is a wrong way to parent (e.g. direct verbal abuse, breaking bones, malnourishment to name a few extreme examples) then there exists, by definition, a right way to parent.

This is logically quite incorrect.

But beside that point, yes there are many wrong ways to parent. I happen to think that spanking/not spanking does not determine that. While my writing may be sloppy, I can assure you that I am no absolute moral relativist.

On a side note, even if I accept that "no one knows the best or right way" without reservations, I dislike it. it's lazy. It's un-aspirational. It implies (but does not state, yes) that all methods of parenting are equally valid. There may be no one best way but that doesn't mean parents are off the hook from trying to be better parents.

I emphatically deny it implies in any way that all methods of parenting are valid, and I am in no way letting anyone off of the hook from trying to be a better parent.

Lazy I can accept, stupidest not so much.

My laziness comes from not taking a firm stand on the issue. I don't spanking is necessary to be a good parent, nor do I think spanking makes you a bad parent.

My attempts to allow both sides of this debate an aura of good faith have raised your ire.
posted by ozomatli at 12:14 PM on June 19, 2008


My attempts to allow both sides of this debate an aura of good faith have raised your ire.

There is no room in this debate for ROOM!
posted by rokusan at 12:22 PM on June 19, 2008


If you can't beat your kids, who can you beat?
posted by chunking express at 12:26 PM on June 19, 2008


There is no room in this debate for people who a) don't review the data; b) take a position that they aren't taking a position; c) fail to advance the argument but nevertheless continue to post about the validity of their irrelevant reasoning. This is a mirage of good faith.

I acknowledge that there are subtleties in this debate that might overwhelm people. After all, spanking a person that weighs 30 pounds while they sob in pain and fear over a back talking incident can't be compared to spanking your neighbor over a property line dispute. Locking a teenager in a room with no food or water for four hours or four days can't be compared to kidnapping someone.

Children's rights is a difficult legal area. They generally have trouble retaining private counsel. Still, I'm sure that a good whoopin' will no doubt correct the behavior of not only juvenile delinquents and those as young as two, but many an embezzler or convicted rapist as well.

spanking: its only effective on people under the age of [insert whatever number you like here].
posted by ewkpates at 12:36 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is definitely one of these situations where rules are not an appropriate substitute for judgement.

My parents spanked us kids on occasion, and it was always pretty clear that it was the result of crossing some sort of line that should never be crossed. It was very rare, but you knew it was out there. The "nuclear option" so to speak. But for the most part our punishments were specific to each kid, and always relative to whatevr we were being punished for. Which I think is a really big part of it. My folks were big on letting us do whatever the hell we wanted, but making sure we were held accountable to the consequences of our actions. It's amazing how powerful being forced to humble yourself and apologize is to a kid. And how important it is to really know your kid. What works for one won't work for another. My sister got sent to her room, I was forced to spend the day with mom sans comic books. Each of us thought the other was getting off easy.

What's funny about the spankings is that my mother is a tiny, tiny woman. I remember the last actual spanking I got, I was maybe ten years old, and bigger than my mother by that point. It was more humiliating than painful, and I actually made a conscious decision to be better, and pretty much stuck to it. I still got it tons of trouble, but never out of disrespect or willful disobedience. Just general shenanigans, and wicked levels of irresponsibility.

In retrospect, I look at some people I know who as adults have these really complicated guilt-laden passive-agressive relationships with their parents, and I'm glad that whatever the punishment, we always had it out then and there and moved on.
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:46 PM on June 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


ust to add on...I'm not saying my folks were perfect. There are lots of things looking back I will never repeat with my kids. They did a good job with the discipline thing is all...
posted by billyfleetwood at 12:54 PM on June 19, 2008


Meatbomb wrote: Tiny little kids, 3 or 4 years old, don't yet have fully developed mental faculties. Spanking is a way to teach them important things - mainly, that when dad tells you something, you have to do it. There isn't time to debate the pros and cons of ... playing around the hot stove

I don't know, the hot stove taught me very well not to play around the hot stove. Burning my hand really hurt. I didn't do that again. (at least not on a hot stove!)

BTW, I was spanked as I child. I also knew some people who were literally beaten at the time. Spanking does not a beating make, unless in the case of a parent who would otherwise be beating their children using blows to the butt instead to make it seem socially acceptable.

And if the alternative is guilt-bombing your child, please spank them. I've seen far too many people fucked up by emotional abuse disguised as punishment once the time outs quit working.
posted by wierdo at 1:04 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was very rare, but you knew it was out there. The "nuclear option" so to speak.

Rare, safe, and legal? :)
posted by rokusan at 1:05 PM on June 19, 2008


I look at some people I know who as adults have these really complicated guilt-laden passive-agressive relationships with their parents...

... and then five dollars later, they can share them with us!
posted by rokusan at 1:06 PM on June 19, 2008


Lazy I can accept, stupidest not so much.

So, in the spirit of being reasonable (gasp!), "stupidest" was unfair and incorrect. Sorry about that.

I stand by "lazy" and will throw "dangerous" in there too.

My attempts to allow both sides of this debate an aura of good faith have raised your ire.

Your vast generalization about parenting techniques has raised my ire. Your specific opinion on spanking is, by itself, less ire-raising. (ire-onic? ire-riffic? ire-itis? ire-n-on? we need a word that means "to raise someone's ire")
posted by GuyZero at 1:15 PM on June 19, 2008


The anti-spanking thing is more of an evolution in Canada. At least in Ontario, to be a foster or adoptive parent one has to pledge to never use spanking. As well, one has to pledge to keep a non-smoking household, so smoking parents might wanna watch for that one. A foster child presenting a convincing case of having been spanked will mean you lose the ability to foster, and at ~$27 per child per day, that's a chunk out of some people's incomes. However, I doubt that they could/would undo a finalized adoption for having spanked.

Regarding kids running into the street, a quick grab, looming, and a stern verbal reprimand worked wonders on the young one.

Like Pope Guilty, I didn't take the lessons that my parents wanted me to learn. I learned that my room was not a safe place (I ran from them and tried to barricade myself there), I learned it was ok for the mighty to force their way into your room, and I learned that my parents could be mean scary people who would intentionally hurt me on their own whims. I can't remember any specific actions/inactions which resulted in spankings.

Later from other actions/words, I learned that in theory they probably cared about me in their own way, and simply could have used a lot of learning regarding parenting. The emotional lesson stuck a lot more, and it's been years with no contact with them. Beyond my sister occaisionally asking me to call them the lack of contact doesn't bother me. I guess those spankings really cemented in that emotional bonding. Or not.
posted by nobeagle at 1:24 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you like I can call my 23 year old son in here and let him use my account to give his opinion on spanking. He has told me himself that he was fine with how he was disciplined back in the day.

I will say this-whatever your views on the subject, please do discipline your children by SOME method. I am so tired of running into other people's brats in public who are never corrected, who run wild in restaurants and other public spaces, and in general make life unpleasant for other people. Go to Target and in about fifteen minutes you will have exhibit A, I guarantee.

Well-behaved children (NOT robots) are in general pretty fun to be around and enjoyable to parent. The right effort early on pays off in big dividends.
posted by konolia at 1:25 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nobeagle, yours is exhibit A in how NOT to apply spanking. That sounds more like parents taking out their frustration on a child, NOT child training.
posted by konolia at 1:27 PM on June 19, 2008


My mom tried using spanking on me, but (supposedly) I never reacted to it. I never cried, I didn't flinch, it just didn't work as a punishment. So instead, my mother ended up using psychology on me when I was naughty.

My mom is a very devious and clever woman. The word 'treacherous' would not be an inappropriate description.

Looking back, I would have preferred the spankings.
posted by quin at 1:29 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


i get it now - not spanking your child turns them into self-righteous weenies and spanking them turns them into trolls - policemen and walmart greeters had hellacious childhoods and i suppose axe murderers were raised by loving lumberjacks

hands up - how many of you commenters actually HAVE children?
posted by pyramid termite at 1:33 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you like I can call my 23 year old son in here and let him use my account to give his opinion on spanking. He has told me himself that he was fine with how he was disciplined back in the day.

So you hit someone but he's totally okay with it? Where have I heard that story before?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:37 PM on June 19, 2008


hands up - how many of you commenters actually HAVE children?

Given the number of people in this thread who think hitting your children is okay as long as you frame it properly, I'm kind of afraid to know the answer to this one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:39 PM on June 19, 2008


hands up - how many of you commenters actually HAVE children?

Damn, pyramid. You're going to take the fun out of this.
posted by thejimp at 1:40 PM on June 19, 2008


So you hit someone but he's totally okay with it? Where have I heard that story before?

Way to take it out of context. Someone who is actively being abused and rationalizing it is not the same as someone looking back on an event from years ago and seeing the benefit/detriment of certain actions.
posted by MrBobaFett at 1:46 PM on June 19, 2008


Remember getting spanked at about 7 or 8. Playing with matches in the house and my father caught me after several warnings . Got a good wacking and sent to bed. Promished him I call the police. He smiles and said "And what do you think your punishment will be when I get out of jail?". Never called the police and never played with matches in the house again.
posted by brickman at 1:55 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite I've got an almost two year old. I've never spanked him, I won't be spanking him. He's turned out ok so far.

And, as an illustration of how a bit of brainpower can solve those "OMG only a spanking will ever teach a kid X", let me relate the story of my kid and the stove. I cook, he likes being around me, and I got a bit tired of trying to keep him from burning himself on the stove. So, I waited until it was uncomfortably warm to the touch, but not truly hot, and told him "hot", and let him touch the stove. Now when I tell him that the stove is hot, he stays away from it. No crying, no beatings, no thuggery on my part needed at all.
posted by sotonohito at 1:56 PM on June 19, 2008


I'll proudly put my hand up as NOT having children.

Because I know I'm not ready to have them, and one of the greatest gifts from my parents is that I've never felt any direct or indirect pressure to get married and have kids just cause they want grandkids or to keep up appearances or any of that nonsense. I think that a big step towards raising your kids right is not having them until you're ready.

And everyone who refuses to make a rhetorical difference between "spanking" and hitting, beating, striking in anger or frustration and flat out abuse is actually doing their argument a disservice. Not only that bu tI think it makes it harder to fight against the real child abuse that's out there.

I talked about my experience growing up not to tell anyone what they should do, but to point out that to some of us, you can paint a picture of corporal punishment that doesn't come off like "little helpless child cowering in fear at the big scary violent adult"
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:08 PM on June 19, 2008


Ah, sotonohito, you shifted your use of pain from spanking to burning. Much better!
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:16 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


sotonohito, you bring up a valuable point. Teaching a young child to listen and understand isn't a discipline issue. I'm not against spanking, but the argument in favor of "safety spanking" always struck me as wrongheaded.

I would think that a questioning, curious, and inquisitive child is just as important as an obedient child.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:26 PM on June 19, 2008


Sheesh, I was a little hellian growing up and was duly spanked for misbehaving. As far as I know, I don't have any developmental issues.

*spanks self*
posted by chugg at 2:27 PM on June 19, 2008


I've got an almost two year old. I've never spanked him

Of course you haven't. Christ, I can't even imagine what a child under the age of two could do to warrant a spanking.
posted by JaredSeth at 2:35 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


RE: The anti-spanking law

Something similar was recently passed in New Zealand, it's proudly trumpeted as the anti-smacking law by it's opponents who see it as another instance of the "nanny state" and the government in our homes telling us how to raise our kids.

We had a clause in our Crimes Act which allowed parents to administer "reasonable force" when disciplining a child. The "anti-smacking law" facilitated the removal of that clause because it was being used as a defence for actual child abusers. Probably the most high-profile case was the mother who beat her child with a riding crop. She managed to be acquitted from trial on the basis of that exception, which is why it had to go.
posted by puddpunk at 2:37 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Simply declaring spanking illegal will not make for good parents or happy children. I doubt very much that it would substantially decrease spanking at all. Even if it did, the proposal amounts to this: in order to prevent you, a parent, from threatening your child with physical pain to enforce your will, because there are better ways to get people to do what you want, our intention is to threaten you with jail. Spot the irony. (Perhaps the actual plan contains more carrots; nonetheless, there seem to be a lot of advocates for the plan with just the stick.)

Anyway, spanking or not spanking is a quibbling detail. The real question is, unhealthy kid or healthy kid, and the answer to that is parenting education, preferably in late high school, and then later in life as a qualification for paid maternity leave, tax deductions, state-subsidized family assistance payments, and childcare. The most sensible target demographic for parenting education is pregnant women.

As for the second link: we're talking about a school trip, not a beer bong party. Guess what, missy: your Daddy is an asshole. (But you know that.) Even if he has sufficient smarts to come up with alternatives to spanking, that doesn't mean the next thought down the "duh, what now do I do?" tube is the right idea, which must be fixated on and followed through. If he's so doggedly insistent on his authority that the only way she has to get him to listen to her as if she were a human being is to take him to court, that's a ringing disendorsement of his parenting skills. I'd make a side bet on this personality flaw explaining his divorce as well.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:40 PM on June 19, 2008


She managed to be acquitted from trial on the basis of that exception, which is why it had to go.

WTF? If anyone has news links to that case, I would love to see them. I am quite surprised that anyone considered a riding crop to be "reasonable".
posted by GuyZero at 2:50 PM on June 19, 2008


nobeagle writes "At least in Ontario, to be a foster or adoptive parent one has to pledge to never use spanking. As well, one has to pledge to keep a non-smoking household, so smoking parents might wanna watch for that one."

Wow. That means my adopted parents never would have been able to adopt me, had these rules been in effect at the time (here in the US). That would have been a shame.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:50 PM on June 19, 2008


pyramid, I'll put my hand up for having three boys. However, just as we got our dogs from the spca, we got our kids 2nd hand (well, really 3rd hand); I'm sure to some people if they were "really" my kids I'd be willing to spank them. And some people might realize that from that small bit of history that spanking these kids would be worse from a psychological and bonding perspective that they'd say, "Well of course you don't spank *those* kids."

konolia: I was spanked, not beaten. But I was smart, and quick to react, so the attempt to spank in the heat of the moment to apply instant correction was lost, and my parents I guess didn't want to "lose face" and so became ogres in my childhood memory. However, have you met some of the people out there? I'd wager there are more spankers at my parents level, or worse, than parents who might apply things in a more reasonable methods as Guy Zero points out.

Some people can drive a car while drunk pretty well. They know their route, they've done it many times, and they're extra careful to make up for the lessened capability. Just the same, for those who can't drink and drive well, they can cause a *lot* of damage. There's little utility in allowing the few who can drink and drive will, and great utility in attempting to stop drinking and driving period, so it's illegal to drink and drive. I consider spanking to be in the same book.

Pope Guilty gets the points for making the battered spouse reference. Just because your kid doesn't hold a grudge says nothing about whether the behavior was appropriate. I don't hold a grudge against my mom for teaching me to "properly" make a scotch on the rocks when I was young so I could help enable her alcoholism (I was never spanked by her while she was drunk - my dad was never drunk in my presense). But hopefully most would agree that it's inappropriate and not good parenting. And I definitely do have grudges against some of the things they did.
posted by nobeagle at 2:53 PM on June 19, 2008


At least some European countries have banned spanking without any outbreaks of children being run over or burnt.

The scary thing is that the US won't even ban corporal punishment in schools or "boot camps" or other tough love facilities-- even where kids are held without the ability to contact the outside world. Even the new legislation proposed on this bans "degrading and humiliating" treatment and "child abuse" but it does not explicitly say that you can't hit.
posted by Maias at 2:54 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


aeschenkarnos: I doubt it's going to end all spanking, and don't think that the law is likely intended as such. Children's services goes to extreme lengths to give parents a change to straighten up and keep their kids, and often judges will side with more caution than the social workers have. But in the cases where there is real abuse going on, this will be another point in the favor of severing contact.

Regarding my analogy with drunk driving, I might have been a bit extreme. I personally wouldn't spank, even if I hadn't had a vasectomy and instead bred my own kids. But I'm not strong enough of an anti-spanker to definitively say that it's worthy of being another law on the books. Even if a law is intended for good, like my first paragraph hopes was/is the intention, all laws are capable of being abused.

The legislative branch of government should be split into two; one which makes laws, and another which solely removes/invalidates/reduces/simplifies laws.
posted by nobeagle at 3:04 PM on June 19, 2008


"I turned out fine" has been used to justify just about every fucked-up behaviour from the last generation and preceding. The fact that you managed to compensate for ill treatment (if you did -- are you fit to judge yourself?) in no way renders the treatment harmless.

Spanking -- and beating -- is done for a whole host of reasons, but my semi-educated guess at the #1 motivator (note I didn't say explanation) is the obvious one -- anger/impatience -- but followed closely by convenience. Parents are tired, not unreasonably. You going to explain it to junior for the tenth time, with strangers in line behind you (omg, how embarassing), or just smack him and be done with it? He'll remember that. Half the shitty things we do to each other and the planet is done for convenience. If that's normal, it's easy to rationalize.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:38 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


An anecdote from an old, old, old, talk show "debate" about spanking vs. not spanking. I saw it years ago and I can't remember if it was on Phil Donahue or Oprah Winfrey.

Two fathers were debating the merits of spanking vs. time-outs, and the pro-spanking dad offered this scenario:

"When our sons are teenagers and they're hanging out with a group of their friends at the convenience store, and one of the guys suggests that they all shoplift something, I don't want my kid thinking 'Oh gee, should I? Dad might give me a time-out.' I want my kid thinking 'If I steal something, my dad's gonna beat the shit [it was bleeped] out of me!"
posted by amyms at 3:47 PM on June 19, 2008


I once spanked someone else's daughter, but she was 19 at the time.

I wasn't spanked but a couple of times growing up, but the threat was there. My parents were more of the "we're disappointed in you" and "we're taking away this privilege" type of people, and I wasn't much of hellion really.
posted by maxwelton at 4:00 PM on June 19, 2008


What a false dichotomy. Maybe the kid should say "uh, guys, shoplifting is wrong."

I may have the squarest kids on the block but at least they won't be shoplifting.
posted by GuyZero at 4:01 PM on June 19, 2008


I want my kid thinking 'If I steal something, my dad's gonna beat the shit [it was bleeped] out of me!"

And when dad is gone, they can externalize the punitive figure to God.
No wonder people think atheists are unpredictable beasts. How will they know right from wrong if no one will punish them?!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:04 PM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh well, it was just an anecdote, albeit with the hyberbole of the word "beat," but I thought it fit in with the discussion.

I'll just say this. My parents divorced when I was 3 years old, and I spent my formative years in both of their households. In one house I was spanked, in the other I was beaten. I know the difference, and there is a difference, a huge difference. I think the problem with the spanking vs. not-spanking issue is that most of the non-spankers can't conceive of the fact that there is a difference between a swat on the butt and a beating.
posted by amyms at 4:15 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]



> Of course you haven't. Christ, I can't even imagine what a child under the age of two could do to warrant a spanking.

Stealing my beer? That's a paddlin'
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:20 PM on June 19, 2008


How will they know right from wrong if no one will punish them?!

It's funny because it's true.

I think a lot of people believe that morality is hierarchical and ultimately derived form some central authority, although most people have never thought about it in those terms. Parenting is one of the few areas where people's beliefs about the basis of morality is expressed quite directly: people who believe that morality is enforced spank and threaten; people who believe morality is emergent/a social contract use guilt; moral pragmatists rely on natural consequences and keeping a close eye on their kids.

The amoral let their kids throw spaghetti around restaurants and are oblivious to us all staring daggers at them.
posted by GuyZero at 4:49 PM on June 19, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm firmly in the non-spanking camp, amyms, and I've experienced both. (and yes, the difference is unmistakable) I actually had the opposite thought: have beatings soured the anti-spankers against all forms of corporal punishment? I guess it's impossible to know. But witnessing either produces the same bad taste in my mouth and an almost irrational anger toward the perpetrator. Then my rationality takes over and I realize: hey, it actually is wrong. I thought I was just angry.

I don't hit anyone as a result, though.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:54 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd much, much, rather take a caning than a prison sentence of more than quite short duration. The focus on physical harm as trumping all other forms of harm seems off to me.

...makes me wonder how some people's complicit approval of "prison justice" relates to their approval of childhood corporal punishment...
posted by fairmettle at 5:07 PM on June 19, 2008


Of course you should spank a child to assert authority. If you break the poppets' spirit while they're young, then it makes them much easier to control as you get older. And they know that it hurts you a lot more than it hurts them.

And children will learn a valuble lesson, like "People that are stronger than you or bigger than you will use physical force for your own good" and "If yo make an authority figure mad, they will hit you".
posted by ShawnStruck at 5:27 PM on June 19, 2008


And children will learn a valuble lesson, like "People that are stronger than you or bigger than you will use physical force for your own good" and "If yo make an authority figure mad, they will hit you".

You're trying to be sarcastic, and the first is generally valid sarcasm, but the second is a indeed a valuable lesson.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 5:40 PM on June 19, 2008


GuyZero wrote moral pragmatists rely on natural consequences and keeping a close eye on their kids.

Exactly. You just reminded me of an incident when I was around 5 or so. One of my playmates said something about "bedtime", a concept that I'd never heard of before. He explained, and later that day I asked my father when my bedtime was. He told me that I could go to bed whenever I wanted to, but I had to wake up in the morning. So I stayed up late that night (well, late for a 5 year old), was tired the next day as a consiquence and went to bed at a reasonable hour thereafter.
posted by sotonohito at 6:24 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


konolia, as someone that was raised in a conservative fundamentalist Christian home, I'm curious where you draw the line on what counts as "willful blatant disobedience". What about if they don't want to hug you after the spanking, or don't feel that everything's square? Does that deserve some more swats until that pesky "will" is all expunged?
posted by vsync at 6:42 PM on June 19, 2008


vsync, generally, my kids knew they'd earned whatever spankings they'd gotten. The point is more that they know that Mom or Dad doesn't hate them, and that once the spanking is over, the matter is closed and won't be held over their heads. As for expunging wills, anyone who thinks they can really truly do THAT with a spanking has lost their marbles.

My parenting philosophy has basically always been to make few rules but to enforce the rules I made. My kids knew that I meant what I said, but they also knew I would always listen to them, and that I would never lie to them.

Unfortunately , vsync, I'm pretty sure I know what kind of parenting YOU are referring to...that wasn't me.
posted by konolia at 6:54 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


And everyone who refuses to make a rhetorical difference between "spanking" and hitting, beating, striking in anger or frustration and flat out abuse is actually doing their argument a disservice. Not only that bu tI think it makes it harder to fight against the real child abuse that's out there.

You know what makes it hard to fight child abuse? Refusing to acknowledge it when it happens.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:56 PM on June 19, 2008


It's patently obvious that the vast majority of parents who beat (sorry, no such thing as "spanking") their children do so because they enjoy beating their children, because it is the closest thing they'll ever feel to getting revenge on their parents for beating them. It makes up, a little, for the impotent rage and sense of betrayal they felt when they were beaten.

It's also obvious that "willful" children "act out" in such a way as to "provoke" a "necessary" beating "lesson" from their parents because they've been taught to act that way by those very parents. That's actually much crueler than the beating itself, and when you've learned to spot it you can actually see its outline in the faces of the self-loathing.

No one who wasn't beaten as a child believes that you need to be beaten to learn self-control; in fact, the idea seems insane. People who were beaten as children tend to confuse self-control with being controlled by, and controlling, others.

Parents who were raised by being controlled and beaten misinterpret expressions of emotionality and independence on the part of their children as a "challenge" to their "authority" and react accordingly - the whole thing is a delusion on the part of the parent, and it serves no purpose other than to perpetuate the chain of controlling, violent behavior.

Sure, there are a few parents who beat their kids, once, or twice, maybe, out of confusion or a misguided sense of obligation, or pure anger, but they realize very quickly that it feels awful, and that it hurts their children, and they stop.

Can you tell I'm pretty much opposed to spanking? :-)
posted by facetious at 8:07 PM on June 19, 2008


It's interesting how many people think that transient, non-damaging physical pain is the worst thing to inflict upon a child or that as a form of discipline it is necessarily more harmful than other forms of discipline. (The emotional pain potentially incurred by spanking being rather contextual, dependent upon the circumstances, I'd think.)

But yeah, I'm the kind of guy that had a friend put out a cigarette on my arm just to see how bad that hurt, so apparently I fear or suffer from pain less than a lot of people, which having an arthritis since 15 or so may have done to me. (And I'm pretty much not an S&M type at all - by and large I don't enjoy pain.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:22 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


RE: Riding crop mother

Here is a news report on the original incident.
posted by puddpunk at 8:27 PM on June 19, 2008


My fiancee, who has done research on and provided counseling for abused kids, tells me that the biggest trigger of child abuse is parents not knowing what is acceptable for kids to do at a particular age, versus what has to be corrected.

Whether or not you think you'll spank your kids, it would pay to learn what to expect and when, and what your kids will just grow out of.
posted by Jpfed at 9:21 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


wow facetious, you've painted this horrible picture of parenthood, that i don't think any of us would wish on any child.

Yes, I was spanked growing up. How often, My honest guess would be more than 5 times, and less than 15. I moved out of my parents house at the age of 17, that's approximately 6200 days of nonstop parenting. Hundreds if not thousands of disagreements, misunderstandings, minor rebellions, flat out disobedience, and rules doled out, learned, ignored, broken and renegotiated.

Hundreds of car trips, shopping excursions, public meals, sports practices, recitals, and plays. Dozens of report cards, parent teacher conferences, and calls from the principal.

Thousands of stories read, bedtimes missed, board games cheated at, chores skipped out on, promises broken, doors slammed and rooms sent to. Many times I said "I'll never do it again" only to, well...do it again first chance I got. Many Times i heard those humbling words..."I told you so"

In that time my parents taught me many valuable lessons, rewarded many triumphs, both minor and major. My parents never failed to celebrate my talents and achievements, even when the only people to notice that I had any talent or had achieved anything was them. We traveled all over the world, and there was nothing that my parents wanted to experience that they didn't want us experiencing right along with them. They answered every question, even when they had to make stuff up. (My father's explanation of how computers work had far too many references to Star Trek to be right)

And there were countless times when I thought I was in big trouble and they would surprise me, like the time My mom pulled me aside and said "if you're gonna bring dirty magazines home, hide e them in the garage like your father does" and never mentioned it again.

I've seen my parents go through the hardest of times, and I've seen them pull through and make quite a nice life for themselves. The gave me a better education than any child has a right to expect, going so far as to move and change jobs just so us kids could have a better crack at good schools. They mortgaged their house to put 3 kids through college pretty much back to back. There were a lot of things about how my parents raised us that I didn't understand at that time. There were a lot of things I resented, and a lot of things I still think they did wrong. But even in my most sullen rebellious years, they found a way to keep the lines of communication open, and when I was in trouble, i always knew that even if I was in deep shit at home, as far as the outside world was concerned they had my back. And I can never think of a time when I was sad that my father wouldn't comfort me, and my mother wouldn't find a way to make me laugh my ass off.

And yeah they spanked me some too. Maybe 8 times, maybe 12. I have no evidence to make me believe they ever enjoyed it, and I was there.

My parents were far from perfect people. I am also far from perfect. One of the most interesting things about really growing up is gaining a deep knowledge and appreciation of how my life reflects the life of my parents, and even to an extent, my grandparents. The story arc of most of our lives start long before we get here, and the pure unadulterated "psychodrama" of family life is woven into so much of what we do in ways we sometimes never even realize.

You can keep your "misinterpreted expressions of emotionality", and your "impotent rage sense of betrayal" I'll stick with the knowledge that my spent way more time teaching me than they did disciplining me, and they never controlled me. They raised me.

For some of you to make the blanket assumptions you're making simply because one part of my parents entire experience of raising me involved physical punishment is both ridiculously and insulting. You can be personally against spanking, and still understand that it doesn't always equal abuse. There are people in this discussion speaking as both parents and children who are saying that it's not always the way you say it is. No matter how many times someone makes the assertion that all spankings equal beatings, and how much you insist we are ignorant victims to our own abuse, it doesn't change the fact that spanking does not have to be the totality of a relationship between parent and child, the totality of a parents disciplinary strategy, or the one thing that determines whether a parent is good or bad, or loves their child, or anything else.

There are children out there who aren't as lucky as I was, and those kids need attention paid to their plight. The every spanking equals abuse mindset is like the fire department showing up everytime you light up your bbq grill, meanwhile the house down the street burns to the ground.

But hey...fire is fire, right?
posted by billyfleetwood at 9:41 PM on June 19, 2008 [13 favorites]


So it's really not possible to improve on billyfleetwood's comment.

Perhaps facetious is trolling, but facetious, your view of spanking is facile and dogmatic.

You heard me: FACILE. By which I do not mean eloquent.

Also, that New Zealand story...

The first charge related to when the woman took her 12-year-old son away and caned him, after he kicked in a door at his North Otago school.

The second charge related to her striking him with a riding crop after he swung a baseball bat at her partner.


So, this isn't spanking and it's not even punishment. It's some idiot getting into a physical fight with their 12-year-old. They both sound emotionally unstable. I doubt any law could help this poor, deranged family. It pains me that common law is set on cases like this.
posted by GuyZero at 10:00 PM on June 19, 2008


your view of spanking is facile and dogmatic.

You heard me: FACILE. By which I do not mean eloquent.


Oh, well, that settles it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:21 PM on June 19, 2008


Well, I don't like to use such colourful language, but there it is. I certainly hope no children are reading this thread.
posted by GuyZero at 10:33 PM on June 19, 2008


Everyone here has made a lot of statements about whether spanking or beating can be conflated, and I'm not really sure if you can separate the two in any reasonable way. I was hit- maybe it was spanking, but it was definitely on my face- probably three times a week; my brother had his ear-drum broken by a slap. It sounds messed up now, but at the time I actually went to both a cop and the people at my church, both of whom didn't think anything was wrong with it. The social situation that I grew up in said that what happened to us was fine, a perfectly acceptable response.
Thinking back now, I'm amazed and terrified by the fact that violence was a common event in our household, but no-one then would call it child abuse; I'm not even sure I'd call it child abuse now. They thought they were doing what was best for their kids.
But one thing is for certain- it fucked me up but good. You can do terrible things to your children while trying to help them. I'm not saying that people that spank their kids are terrible parents, or hate their kids, or anything like that- that's ridiculous. But people need to take the time to wonder how their actions will effect their child, not in the short term to keep them from calling another kid a bad name, but over decades.
posted by 235w103 at 10:35 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most mammals inflict pain to admonish their young. Why should humans be different? The word "spank" is being used interchangeably with "beat". They're not the same, and the message the young receive is not the same. Spanking, assuming we mean slapping the buttocks, has the lowest risk of serious physical harm as opposed to inflicting pain in any other way to any other part of the body. On the other hand, mammals, other than humans, don't speak and, hence, must rely on physical remonstration. Depending on how the spanking is done, at what age, what conditions, etc., determine how appropriate it is. Sounds like a lot of people here have some unresolved issues going on. I'm still pissed about being lied to about Santa Claus.
posted by sluglicker at 10:50 PM on June 19, 2008


Well, I don't like to use such colourful language, but there it is. I certainly hope no children are reading this thread.

Welcome to the internet. My belief is that many from the younger end of the teenage years are almost certainly reading this thread, and probably a few even younger. I tend to think this is a good thing.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:54 PM on June 19, 2008


Well said, billyfleetwwood. Flagged as a fantastic comment.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:13 PM on June 19, 2008


Smack the shit out of your children. God says it's okay.

It would do well for people to differentiate "swatting" from "spanking" from "slapping."

IMO, very young children can "lock in" on a behaviour mode, ie. tantrum or crying, and a swat — which is a single swat to the bottom through clothing — can serve as a "reset button."

I can not imagine a situation in which slapping a child would be not-harmful. The face is one of the most important parts of the body, and the most susceptible to damage. We rely on it to see, to eat, to hear, to think: our faces are our lives. Slapping a face is a terrible thing to do to a child. Outright abusive.

Spanking is just a damned crude tool for physical might-makes-right. It's like hammering a screw into wood, instead of using a screwdriver. Wrong tool for the job and it's all to likely to make a mess of things. If it doesn't break it, it's a weak solution: the threads don't have a good bite into the wood and the thing will probably fall apart.

Being a good parent means teaching your children to be self-disciplined. Being a great parent means teaching them that without resorting to physical violence against them.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:19 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Reading back over my comment, I'm struck by how difficult to parse it is.
We haven't settled on a definition for what is spanking and what is beating- what is acceptable and what is not. I'd like for the line that separates the two to not depend on the question of how much physical pain you are inflicting on your child or how often you do so.
posted by 235w103 at 11:21 PM on June 19, 2008


I will vouch that might-makes-right can work as an extremely effective behaviour modifier, though. The one time I swore at my mother, I experienced one-trial learning. My father's immediate and extreme reaction permanently nixed that behaviour.

And it didn't require striking me or causing any physical pain at all. He picked me up by my shirt front, held me against the wall, and using easy-to-understand words made it clear to my tweenager self that I was to never, ever do that again.

It was way more effective than the two or three spankings I'd received over the years.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:28 PM on June 19, 2008


Most mammals inflict pain to admonish their young.

You're gonna have to cite that shit, yo.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:53 AM on June 20, 2008


sluglicker: most mammals also clean their young's asses with their own tounges. My four year old regressed a bit when he moved in and needed us to wipe his butt for a month. I didn't even consider using my tongue, despite being a mammal.

Most mammals are simple and don't have language to help express subtle points and complex thought to each other. With sharing complex thoughts it is possible to build even more complex thought. We can control fire.

I'm not going to lick any of my sons' asses, and I'm not going to hit them either regardless of what monkeys and dogs do.
posted by nobeagle at 6:55 AM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


235w103

As someone who was spanked a few times as a kid and learned some lessons becuase of it, I think when kids are getting their ear drums busted you have crossed that line people have mentioned.
posted by Big_B at 8:09 AM on June 20, 2008


The thing about understanding what behavior is age-appropriate and what it means in terms of development is crucial. I remember sitting with a young mother whose baby was at that point where they drop things repeatedly. She was trying to punish him for it because he kept doing it no matter that she said no and it is annoying. Well, it is annoying-- but that's how kids learn about gravity and it's not about defiance.

If you read this behavior as a child's normal development, it's very different from if you read it as repeated, willful disobedience. And the discipline that results is quite different.

A huge amount of child abuse could be prevented by simply teaching people about ages and stages and about the levels of self-control to be expected at which times.

There would be much less debate over disciplinary methods if people were "child literate"-- I don't think the data shows that the odd spanking is harmful, but it is certainly clear that if there's ongoing, disciplinary battles which include violence, something is wrong and will get worse if the problem isn't addressed.

Many people these days do not spend much (sometimes any) time with young children before they have them themselves often and they don't get the chance to babysit like they used to do in the past (I was babysitting at 13, 14-- today most parents wouldn't dream of leaving their babies with someone that age) and they don't have extended families to teach them so even people you think would be knowledgeable often aren't. And, of course, if your own family was dysfunctional in this way, you may have learned ways of parenting that shouldn't be passed down.
posted by Maias at 3:57 PM on June 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


As for making it to 6 or 7 in one piece without spanking, it wasn't that much of a challenge. Various other discipline techniques worked well enough. Every kid is different, so I won't say what was and wasn't necessary for you, but I don't think that it's true that 3 years olds in general need to be spanked.

I helped raise my 11-years-younger brother because my parents were busy; up till college I spent more time with him than they did. Somehow it never occurred to me or my parents to raise our hands against the annoying brat. Somehow we managed to keep him from serious harm. I was a teenage boy for god's sake. The kid drove me insane on a daily basis. I would've enjoyed smacking him around, but there was never any need.

ITA about every kid being different though, and this:

So while I would never advocate spanking, it is purely on practical grounds and not because I am morally opposed to it.
posted by fatehunter at 9:21 PM on June 20, 2008


You're gonna have to cite that shit, yo.

Why? Because you've never seen it?

Most mammals are simple and don't have language to help express subtle points and complex thought to each other

I'm glad you agree with me.
posted by sluglicker at 12:09 AM on June 22, 2008


Spanking != beating. Mmmkay? Not sure? Don't think so? Bend over, I'll demonstrate the difference, and I'll be nice, and start with the spanking.

Riding crop: Um, I know, it sounds horrible. But, again, I can demonstrate why this is a good idea. To give legitimacy to your fears, I'll start with the paddle. And you'll be happier when I switch to the crop. It's much kinder. If you don't know what you're talking about, STFU. The crop offers less resistance, gives the user greater control. Its bark is worse than its bite.

As a child, I remember desperately wishing I would be spanked. The emotional abuse I suffered was far far worse. My parents were complete idiots about raising kids. Fortunately, I had enough sense to split and find someone else to finish the job, and selected very wisely. I was spanked some, beaten (by fists) once, slapped too many times to count. But worst of all, was being screamed at while being chased by that insane woman (mom!) with a yardstick (which usually broke before doing damage).

Now, all that fun and games (and abuse) out of the way, let me speak positively about the comment above, on the virtues of informed parenting. Parents should know what to expect. Nothing worse than punishing a child for acting like a child (except punishing a child for being unhappy over unmeant emotional needs, which was what usually sparked the fights between my mother and I, in which I was always assured I was entirely wrong).

I'm on the fence about spanking as anything beyond an adult recreation. But that's moot, I don't have kids, nor am I likely to have them (I'm too old to start). But I am of the opinion that spanking is only required, if ever, as a result of seriously lousy parenting. It's hard work to raise kids properly.
posted by Goofyy at 6:03 AM on June 22, 2008


There are so many irrationally constructed arguments here that I'm astonished people had the nerve to post them.

My favorite has to be "it's okay if I don't hit to hard". I've been bigger and stronger than most people for much of my life. This experience has taught me that what I think of as "not too hard" can still be very scary to someone smaller than me. Its also delightful that so many of you have concluded that "abuse" is "when I hit too hard." You may be surprised to learn that when the care giver is violent, be it spanks or swats or crops or paddles or whatever with a child of a young age, the child isn't "grown up" enough to understand it in context. Wow. Think of that.

My second favorite is, "my kid survived it" which is not only delightfully anecdotal, but ignores the point: those of us against spanking are calling the judgement of spanking parents into question. So, yeah, we don't think you'd know if your kid was okay. We think big people who hit little people may not be capable of assessing "okay".

Second hand smoke is bad for your kid. It might not seem bad right now, but it is bad. Some kids might not have been harmed by it, but it is still bad. Like spanking, there is no study data indicating that it is linked to positive outcomes.
posted by ewkpates at 5:30 AM on June 23, 2008


The AAP's statement on spanking.
posted by Jpfed at 4:21 PM on June 23, 2008


From that AAP article:
Corporal punishment in two-parent, middle-class families occurred weekly in 25%, was associated with the used of an object occasionally in 35% and half of the time in 17%, caused considerable pain at times in 12%, and inflicted lasting marks at times in 5%.
Ye godz, that's utterly sick.
The more children are hit, the more anger they report as adults, the more they hit their own children when they are parents, the more likely they are to approve of hitting and to actually hit their spouses, and the greater their marital conflict.
Or IOW, violence begets violence and it's a lifelong effect.
Even controlling for baseline antisocial behaviour, the more 3- to 6-year-old children were hit, the worse their behaviour when assessed two years later.
IOW, violence isn't effective anyway.
Actions causing pain such as spanking can acquire a positive value rather than the intended adversive value.
Spank your children now to make them the S&M queens of the future!
Spanking of young children is hghly correlated with continued spanking of school and adolescent children. ... Parents who have relied on spanking do not seem to shift strategies when the risks of detrimental effects increase with developmental age.
Once you start, you bother learning other means of dealing with misbehaviour. Spanking is the easy way out for you.
Approximately 85% [of parents] expressed moderate to high anger, remorse, and agitation while punishing their children.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.

It's a good article to read. Those who insist beating their children should make a close study of it. They might learn that their preconceived ideas about child behaviour management are garbage.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:51 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't get over it... not a single pro kid hitting nut case in this thread reviews the data and says, "gee, maybe that isn't a harmless strategy" or "gee, spanking doesn't seem to be all the effective".

That's how we reach the limit of the power of the internets... no learning curve.

Carry on.
posted by ewkpates at 11:04 AM on June 24, 2008


There are several thousand years' worth of data that say it's pretty harmless and works just fine.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:20 PM on June 24, 2008


To me the data says that most "spankers" are, in fact, child abusers who pass off their behaviour as spanking. IMO, if you are angry when you strike a child it's not spanking. So 15% of parents, tops, are using spanking effectively. Even then, per my previous comment, it's still probably less effective than doing something else. But it seems a bit harsh to criminalize the actions of those 15% of parents when the law seems to cover the situation adequately in its previous/current form. It's not like people who beat their children will suddenly stop when/if this law is passed.
posted by GuyZero at 12:25 PM on June 24, 2008


if you are angry when you strike a child it's not spanking

Of course people are going to be angry when their children misbehave. The question is how they deal with that anger or allow it to control them. Would you say that if you are angry while chewing out your child, it is not a chewing out but in fact emotional abuse?
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:34 PM on June 24, 2008


So I suppose it depends on your definition of angry. But yeah, if you can't verbally discipline your child without shouting or demeaning them, it's emotional abuse.

If you can't be as calm and dispassionate disciplining your child as your are when you're having a nap on the couch you're doing it wrong. (OK, naps aren't really dispassionate but they are calm) It's a high bar (and I don't always get there) but disciplining a child is not about resolving your own anger, frustration or whatever. It's about teaching someone with a partially-developed brain what to do next time.
posted by GuyZero at 1:13 PM on June 24, 2008


This thread really does keep getting better!

Thousands of years of data collection! One of the most ridiculous statements of all time. The kind of data collection that fed superstition, religious zeal, or just the success of phrenology and alchemy? Neat. Waaay neat.

Yeah. You can't discipline angry. If you do, then you are abusive. This is a pretty basic reality of parenting. Does all abuse cause psychological damage? Nope. Does all exposure to second hand smoke cause cancer? Nope.

I am seeing a connection though... between people who hit kids and people with poor reasoning skills... it explains alot if you think about it...
posted by ewkpates at 10:29 AM on June 25, 2008


Metafilter: intellectual arrogance with very little intellect.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 11:29 AM on June 25, 2008


Metafilter: I'm insulting you rather than contributing, but not because I have poor reasoning skills.
posted by ewkpates at 11:37 AM on June 25, 2008


ewkpates: initiates the insults but gets all butt-hurt if anyone responds in kind.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 12:22 PM on June 25, 2008


Crabby, you seem to be making a helluva effort to ignore what an authoritative study says about the results of spanking. One suspects you know that you're wrong, but the fear of admitting it causes you to go all defensive.

Were you spanked to the point of extreme pain as a child? Spanked or struck as a teenager? Did your parents do these things while angry? And do you spank your children now?

My guess: yes on all counts.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:59 PM on June 25, 2008


five fresh fish: I composed a reply on the same level as your own comment, but then deleted it; why should I stoop to your level? In fact, why should I demean myself by participating in this dog vomit masquerading as a discussion? No reason. No reason at all. Goodbye.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 8:24 PM on June 25, 2008


Stoop to my level? You mean, like, actually reading the study and understanding its conclusions?

Gosh, no, please, don't stoop to my level. You might learn that you claim that "There are several thousand years' worth of data that say it's pretty harmless and works just fine." is, in fact, incorrect!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:42 AM on June 26, 2008


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