• Tue, Dec 10 - 3:00 pm ET

Don’t Bother Hugging Your Child After You Spank Him – The Damage Is Already Done

AB05876Yet another study has been done that proves that hitting your child elicits even more aggressive behavior. How many times do we have to prove the point that aggression begets aggression? Isn’t that obvious? The study also shows it makes no difference how warm your relationship is; physical discipline has negative effects.

From University of Michigan News:

“There is a common belief that spanking that occurs in a positive parent-child relationship will not be harmful to children,” said Shawna Lee, an assistant professor at the U-M School of Social Work.

“We were able to test that belief in this study. Spanking predicted worse, not better, child behavior over time, regardless of how warm mothers were with their children.”

Here’s the deal – if you lash out and hit your child – you’ve lost your cool. Anyone that strikes another being has just momentarily lost their shit. You can excuse it all you want – but you would be wrong. Don’t act like you deserve the parent-of-the-year award because you’ve figured out that living beings respond to intimidation and pain.

I’m not saying that I’ve never had the urge to hit my child – I have. He’s a stubborn 3-year-old. He’s absolutely impossible sometimes and totally drives me to the brink. But my unbelievable frustration and inability to figure out how to handle him doesn’t excuse physically hurting him. I take my breath and compose myself – because I am a rational adult.

Some people argue that you don’t have to lose your cool to spank. I find that even creepier. Purposely inflicting pain on a child to get them to behave creates aggressive little beings. Is that really the outcome we want? Hooray, my child is scared enough that I’m going to hurt him that he’s listening to me now! No matter that I’m molding a young mind to believe that violence and intimidation are effective ways of controlling people.

Parents use various practices to elicit positive behaviors for children. Despite numerous studies indicating that spanking increases child aggression, parents still continue to use physical punishment at high rates in hopes to see positive behavior, Lee said.

The findings, which appear in the recent issue of Developmental Psychology, reinforce the importance of adults avoiding the use of spanking.

“Use of spanking is ineffective, and only further exacerbates aggressive child behaviors,” Lee said.

Being aggressive with your child creates a more aggressive child. The end. If you’re cool with that outcome – spank away.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • Zorbs

    shut up, sanctimommy. I spank my kid, everyone I know spanks their kid, and there’s no sense pretending it doesn’t happen or it’s bad.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Good for you. Who’s pretending it doesn’t happen?

    • brebay

      What’s the logic, that you know a lot of morons, or that majority = intelligence?

    • cesp

      I can’t help but feel like you are taking this personally. No one is accusing you of being a terrible parent with damaged children just because you spanked. For a long time it was considered a socially acceptable form of discipline. Hell I was spanked but I don’t think my mom is any less amazing because of it. But things change, new information comes in and we hopefully use it to change our parenting for the better.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      Well if everyone hits their kid then of course it’s okay.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Hahaha I love this so much because to me your comment is the PERFECT illustration of some internet weirdo who believes hitting your kid is OK. well done!!

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I was hoping it was sarcasm for a second. Then I remembered that this is the Internet.

    • Simone

      I know. It should be funny, but it falls a trifle short of that mark.

  • brebay

    Thank you! I’ve always found the pre-meditated spanking waaaayyy creepier than losing your shit. I could almost understand losing your cool and swatting your kid or a teenager calling you a bitch and smacking her in anger. But the whole, calm: “Here’s what I want you to do, and if you don’t do it, I am going to hit you, and it is going to hurt” far, far more worrisome and feel it sends a worse message.
    Hitting in anger sends the message that you lost your shit, and that’s easier to understand than really believing that inflicting pain will elicit good behavior. It’s counter to, say, murder, where you’re MORE guilty if you plan it out ahead than if you lose your shit. I think hitting is damaging either way, but I think a kid can understand a parent losing it on a rare occasion versus the calm, intentional teaching that violence is a viable option to conflict if you’re bigger and stronger. You can apologize for losing your shit and tell the kid you messed up, you’re going to get help, and it wasn’t their fault. If it’s planned out, you have none of those options.
    It amazes me how many people are eager to admit that they can’t outfox a young child to get the behavior you want a vast majority of the time. It’s like admitting that the only advantage you have over a 4-year-old is your size. For single moms of boys especially, if you’ve used your size and strength to control the kid his whole life, what are you planning on doing when he’s bigger and stronger than you and still a teenager?

    • Muggle

      I agree, 100%. I’ve seen what happens when small, out-of-shape women rely on their size and strength to control their children their whole lives. They wind up calling the police and having their own teenage sons locked away for defending themselves. I’m sorry, but anyone who is being hit has a right to hit back. Actually, I’m not sorry at all.

  • Mystik Spiral

    If there’s one thing the internet has taught me, it’s that no matter how hard you try, you will NEVER convince pro-spankers that spanking is not OK. I can’t pinpoint the cause, but something about the topic of spanking causes a short in certain people’s common sense wiring.

    Common sense will tell us that hitting someone in the adult world will get you arrested for assault. Common sense will tell us that fear of pain and humiliation is not an effective child-raising tool. Common sense will tell us that hitting someone to teach them that hitting is wrong is one of the most ridiculous ideas ever conceived. Common sense will tell us that if you hit your child to get your way, you shouldn’t be surprised or upset if they hit others to get their way too. But to the pro-spankers, a “little swat on the butt” is just A-OK.

    The comments are always fun to sit back and watch though…

    • pixie

      I find it hilarious, though a little sad for the children, to read the comments on posts like this.

    • brebay

      Yeah, the “tapping/spanking/swatting” isn’t hitting is the best argument. Right, because with spanking you have the pain + the humiliation factor…bonus!

    • Sarah Morgan

      I think they cling so tenaciously to the idea that spanking is OK, because they feel that to admit otherwise, would be to admit that they, and their own parents, could have done a better job. It can be painful and confusing to reconcile love and abuse, so they try to reclassify the abuse as discipline.

    • Coby

      I read a great little article that goes directly to that point – realizing that your parents made mistakes and forgiving them for it: http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/12-ways-to-forgive-your-parents

    • AlbinoWino

      I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read about someone doing some vile violent thing (like Newtown) and you will get hundred of comments from people saying “well, this is what happens when you don’t let people spank their kids!” It always horrifies me that there could be so many people out there who use this very odd logic. Like the only contributing factor to someone becoming a violent, sadistic person was that their parents didn’t use discipline to include spanking. Never mind that they have no idea what discipline was used in the homes these people grew up in.

  • kay

    I’ve said it before, but this Louis CK quote is my favorite as far as explaining why I find spanking messed up ” kids are the only people in the world, that you’re allowed to hit. Do
    you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable and they’re the most
    destroyed by being hit, but it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re
    the only ones! If you hit a dog, they fucking will put you in jail for
    that shit. You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were
    trying to kill you, but a little tiny person with a head this big that
    trusts you implicitly? Fuck them, who gives a shit?”

    • Bethany Ramos

      YES!!!!

    • brebay

      Oh, that’s so true and so sad!

    • Simone

      Yes, and you should keep on saying this, I’ve been saying it for years and its degree of truth is unwavering.

    • Carls

      thats because kids are the only people that need to be punished and trained to be ok humans! why do you think you usally STOP spanking at 3 or 4 years old and spank younger then that? because they have no idea how to act like a human and must be punished
      a wife can NOT spank husband as they could years ago and husbands can NOT spank wifes as they could years ago

  • SusannahJoy

    I was spanked as a kid. I didn’t find it traumatizing, and none of us (I had three siblings) had any problems with it, or are at all aggressive. But I’ve decided that I will not spank my child, and my parents have told me that they wish they didn’t. I think it can be totally effective and harmless, but it might not be, and there’s almost always a better way, even if that way is more time consuming and requires more work.

    • brebay

      That’s an interesting perspective. Your parents wishing they hadn’t done it makes me wonder if they saw it affect you in some way you may not even be aware of, or their relationship with you. I don’t doubt that you and your sibs turned out not to be violent people, but I just wonder what your parents noticed that maybe you didn’t that makes them say they would have done it differently. Anyway, I think it’s nice when parents can look back and say something like that. You get so many parents who will never admit they ever made any mistakes or would have done anything differently. We all have regrets about the way we parented, we can only hope our kids remember more good than bad!

    • SusannahJoy

      They said they didn’t like how they felt like they were losing control sometimes, and reacting out of anger instead of out of trying to curb the negative behavior. And yeah, my parents are awesome! I am very lucky to have such a great family! :)

    • emlangille

      I was raised the same way..my parent (well my mom) spanked us (me & my 4 siblings, I’m a triplet) but I honestly think it happened maybe 3 times..however my mom doesn’t regret it and I don’t either. None of us are aggressive, or get angry and I think it helped us realized when she was serious and, to respect her decisions and she rarely had to do more than raise her voice a bit or give us a look and we’d stop the bad behaviour. It also taught us that my mom’s word was law, and we didn’t talk back to her and generally respected her decisions. Obviously as we got older, we either made our own decisions or discussed with her why we didn’t like her choices, and yes sometimes argued but it slowly dissolved from her making decisions and shaping our behaviour to us being adults. There probably was a better way, but for my siblings and myself it worked and wasn’t harmful.

    • EX

      “She rarely had to do more than raise her voice a bit or give us a look and we’d stop the bad behaviour.” Same thing with my mom, but she never spanked us. I just don’t think it’s necessary and increases the risk of having a more aggressive child (obviously this does not mean that everyone who is spanked turns out aggressive, as you’ve shown).

    • ted3553

      I too was spanked and didn’t find it traumatizing and can’t find any lasting effects. I am trying to work through the beginning stages of discipline now without spanking. I’m not going to say I never will but I’m going to attempt not to. When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and working full time and just tired, my lab was out of control one day and I hit him. I often give him a finger smack on the nose or a tap on the butt but this was way out of control. It made me cry and I thought about doing that to my child. It’s tough to work through but spanking is usually done in anger or rage at that moment and the scenario is I’m mad at you so i’m going to hit you so you’ll stop. It’s not rational and tough to work through.

    • jane

      Here’s the thing that trips everyone up. MOST people don’t turn out aggressive. Period. So what these studies are really looking at is the increased likelihood of aggression. It’s not a 1:1 ratio. Most kids who are spanked, aren’t spanked, are left in front of the TV, never watch TV, eat only fruit loops, never eat anything other than organic, etc turn out just fine. However, some kids don’t turn out just fine – they end up in jail, they do drugs, they beat up their girlfriends. Researchers try to figure out why that small population of people is, for lack of a better phrase, fucked up. It turns out that, surprise! one of the factors that contributes to this is spanking. So yes, tons and tons and tons of people are spanked and turn out a-ok. But if you want to minimize risk, don’t spank. This is the exact same logic with wearing a bike helmet (most people who bicycle don’t die in accidents, but you minimize your risk of dying by wearing a helmet) or a seatbelt (most people who ride in cars don’t die in car accidents, but wearing a seatbelt minimizes the risk), or not drinking 5 beers per day (most people who do don’t develop cancer, but it minimizes the risk), etc. I think so many people reject these studies (not what you did, but in general) because they don’t understand statistics.

    • SusannahJoy

      Oh, I know, and I agree! Which is why I’m not going to spank. But that’s not exactly what the article said. “Being aggressive with your child creates a more aggressive child. The end. If you’re cool with that outcome – spank away.” That’s pretty black and white.

    • Rachel Sea

      That statement is true though. It’s not that spanking sends some kids over the edge, it’s that spanking generally increases aggression, which is not so noticeable in a child who is not aggressive to start with, and more noticeable in a child who is.

    • Katia

      Yeah that quote illustrates that it’s author doesn’t understand statistics

    • zungo88

      wow, do you not realize that the statement “i was smacked and I turned out OK” is an opinion not a fact. Its incredibly frightening statement, as it not only shows the callousness but always shows the dogma and blind rationalizations to continue corporal punishment because of the sick need for power and submission.

    • Mel

      I understand. I was spanked by my mother with a flyswatter to the back of my legs. It left the little holes and everything. I’m not violent person at all. I’m a staunch liberal, opposed to violence in all forms. That said, I have panic attacks when I know I’m going to see my mother and I need a therapist to help me work through my issues, which it turns out, are only about her. I can’t help but wonder if the spankings contributed to it. My family spanks and uses the argument of “we were spanked and we turned out fine” but I can tell ya, we’re not fine….

  • cesp

    I have to preface this by saying that my mom was and is an amazing mom/woman/role model. That being said she spanked the hell out of my brothers and I. The funny thing is I don’t remember it ever really hurting, but the fear and stress associated with knowing I had misbehaved and was going to get spanked is still pretty clear in my memory. Looking back she regrets doing it, but at the time as a stay at home mom to four kids under six…well I can’t really blame her for resorting to more extreme methods of discipline. Hell, I am impressed that she didn’t sell us all for a bottle of wine and an hour of silence.

    • cesp

      Okay, so maybe “spanked the hell out of” is a bit dramatic.

    • zungo88

      the only reason you feel like that is that because that woman was your mother, if it was someone else, I doubt the reaction would be the same

  • NicknamesAreDull

    The only time my mom spanked me what when she was very, very upset. I don’t think she intended to do it, she was just so freaked out it happened.

    When I was about 8 or 9, a woman moved into the house next door. She spent a lot of time at the park in my neighborhood, but she didn’t have a dog or kids. She always came by with gifts for me (and other girls on the street) but never any of the boys. I didn’t find this weird, and was super annoyed my mom had a problem with it. My mom always told me to never, ever spend time alone with her.We had a school fundraiser, and I went door to door. She invited me in, because her check book was in her bedroom and wanted to buy something. So, I went in and she offered a drink, and a snack. I don’t know how my mom figured out I was over there, but she did and when we got home, she clutched my shoulders and told me that I should never, ever disobey her like that, and swatted my butt. She started to cry and told me to go to my room. After she calmed down, she apologized to me and told me it was never okay to hit another person. I don’t think she ever forgave herself for it. A few months later, it turns out the lady was involved in a lot of child porn related things, and was arrested.

    I don’t condone spanking, and I don’t think it’s ever okay. I will never spank my kid. But, I can see how sometimes you get unbelievably overwhelmed and lose focus.

    • brebay

      If I put myself in your mom’s spot, I think that’s TOTALLY the case where I could see myself doing it. I’m sure what she imagined was happening or could have happened to you was much, much, worse. I think when it’s isolated, like that, and she apologized, then it’s really just teaching a kid about making a mistake and taking responsibility for it, and that parents are human too. That’s really creepy, though, Good thing your mom saw the red flags!

    • NicknamesAreDull

      When I was younger, I shook it off and didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until I was older. My mom never spanked me again, and she made it very clear that she was wrong. She let me take something of hers away for 2 weeks as a punishment.

      When I realized what could have happened, I hugged my mom and told her I forgave her. When I had my daughter, I realized how absolutely terrified she must have been.

      The street we lived on was very close knit. I still keep in contact with the people I grew up with there, and my mom/dad are still friends with the people. We had block parties, all that jazz. So, when someone new moved in, I think my mom was hesitant because they didn’t exactly fit into the group. Then, when she (and the other parents) noticed the extra special attention, then they realized she wasn’t a good person.

    • Justme

      That is the creepiest story. Yikes.

    • zungo88

      wow hitting really did solve the problem….not, just coz your mad does not excuse abuse, that was a very bad part by your mother.

  • EmmaFromÉire

    Spanking your own kids is one horrific thing, but who the FUCK would let somebody ELSE spank their kid? Why is that an acceptable form of punishment in high schools? If I went and hit some random adult on the street that would be assault, but spanking kids in school? Graaaaaaand.

    • Muggle

      This is what I don’t get. All the kids who acted up when I was in school were already getting the shit beaten out of them fairly often at home. My state allowed spanking in school, but my county didn’t– to the chagrin of literally everybody. I don’t think it would have worked at all– and there were really bad discipline problems when the only consequences for misbehavior were in-school suspension. I don’t think they’ve eased up at all.

      Though really, my school had a lot of problems with discipline and it had nothing to do with the lack of spanking, and nothing to do with the lack of after-school detention some years.

  • Coby

    While I was never spanked, I can vividly remember the two times my dad threatened me with spanking. And each time, it scared the bejesus out of me. He had this rage – his body was shaking with anger and frustration – and I could see that it took every single ounce of self-control for him to NOT lash out at me physically.

    My daughter is almost 2, and I cannot FATHOM harming her. Oh sure, she does stuff that drives me nuts, but like a PP said, I just have to pull myself away and calm down. I have to be the rational one. Biologically and physiologically, she is incapable of that rational thought, control and skill. And it drives me apeshit that other parents don’t realize that. I see it happen so many times: our children are not permitted to have bad moods, talk back, be sassy, be noisy, be children or people. They are expected to fall in line for the sake of obedience and “respect” when they don’t really even have the concepts of such.

    • Bethany Ramos

      That is the best point, allowing kids to just express themselves without punishment. I had to challenge my religious upbringing and think, hey, why would I expect my kid to be perfect and punish him when he isn’t? Discipline has a place, but it helps to not start out as thinking of your kid as “bad.”

    • I’m learning

      Thanks for your comments! I also have an almost 2-year-old ego also can drive me crazy with her “bad” behavior – she’s rambunctious, hates to share, and is very physical/aggressive. IE, a normal toddler! It’s a good reminder to me that I shouldn’t hold her to the kind of standards I would expect from an older child. I would never spank her, but sometimes I’m maybe unduly hard on her with time-outs, because I’m worried about what other people (esp other moms with kids her age who are less rambunctious) will think of her. I’m starting to believe that harsh parental disciple is (at least partly) a product of us, as parents, wanting other people to see how “well-behaved” our kids are. Because, let’s be honest, we judge the crap out of each other when our kids act like kids. We see a toddler hit another kid and we smugly think “my kid wouldn’t do that because I do blah blah blah”. And we make our kids pay for it, whether it’s by spanking or withholding love or affection. As groups of moms, if we really care, we need to be concerned foremost with our children’s well-being – NOT about impressing each other with how compliant and well-behaved our kids are! And we need to be supportive and accepting of moms with “difficult” kids, so they don’t feel the need to spank them into compliance. My mom lost friends because my brother was a tough kid and she refused to break his will through harsh discipline. Let’s work to create communities where the behavior of children of ALL temperaments is gently molded in such a way that improves their well-being and fosters healthy development!

    • Carls

      who cares whatbothers think?? heres the thing if they were not in the room when tghe child was being made tghen they have no say so WHATS SO EVER!!!

  • Jlh

    I was spanked as a kid when I pushed my parents. But they never spanked me to the point where it could have been considered abuse. When I have kids I don’t plan on spanking them, but if I did it wouldn’t be any worst than what I got as a kid. That being said I do believe that whether someone spanks their kid is their own business and others should respect their choice in how they handle their discipline as long as it isn’t taken too far.

    • Mystik Spiral

      I can’t have respect for people who hit children. I just can’t.

    • Jlh

      Well I’m sure they’re not asking for you’re respect. How people discipline their kids is their own choice.

    • Simone

      There’s this thing called the social contract. We all exchange some of our personal freedom in return for the greater protection of the group. The line wavers across times and places, and when enough people in the group decide that a practice is no longer acceptable, then it stops being condoned. After that point, ‘how people discipline their kids’ becomes the group’s business. Spanking kids is reaching that point, as a social issue.

    • Jlh

      There will always be people who spank, whether it’s acceptable or not. I’m not a supporter or an opposer of spanking but I’m not going to shame someone for what they choose.

  • Ana

    I don’t spank my 18 month old and don’t ever plan on it, but she is getting to that age where she is really defiant and stubborn, and she does things like slap me, throw things at people (I have a scratch under my eye right now from a book she threw at me) & sit on the cats. I know she doesn’t know how rough she’s being, but when I tell her no or try to curb the behavior she laughs and does it again. I am making her sound like a little demon, but she is super sweet and loving too. Maybe you fellow moms can help me. What is a good way to get through to a toddler who barely understands anything yet? We recently started time outs with mixed results, but she will do the same thing right after I let her out.

    • http://Mommyish.com/ Eve Vawter

      Time outs. And realize she will be over this stage very soon. It’s annoying but she is just testing you.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      So true. This stage is mercifully short lived for the most part. At least it was for my brood.

    • Mystik Spiral

      If she keeps sitting on the cats, the discipline problem may solve itself…

    • elle

      Argh my son went through that terrible torture the cat phase too! No matter how many TOs he was put in he kept bothering Reggie. Except then Reggie got really tired of it (after weeks I have a very patient sweet old guy who loves kids) and took a swipe at him and now my son leaves Reggie alone. And maybe I’m a terrible mom but I just kind of shrugged and said oh well that’s what you get for bothering him. Also hilariously now every time he has a scratch, bruise, or bump he tries to blame it on Reggie. Reggie always did it .

    • elle

      Ok that was supposed to be to Ana whoopsie!

    • LiteBrite

      I don’t think you’re a terrible mom. I’ve always taken the position that if the cats come out and attack our son without any sort of provocation that’s one thing, but if he’s bugging the cats, cornering the cats, or just otherwise being an ass monkey to the cats and he gets bit, well, guess you learned the cat isn’t a toy didn’t you son?

      My one cat really dislikes my son. Every time he gets within 5 feet of her, she hisses and growls at him, and he’ll tattle on her every time. I’m like, “Yeah, so? The cat is hissing at you. Leave her alone.”

    • elle

      Ok I’m glad you understand I was a little worried people wouldn’t. And I definitely agree-it’s one thing for Reg to swipe at my son provoked and quite another unprovoked. Reg would definitely be in big trouble then. And the image of your son rattling on your cat cracks me up because I so see my son doing that someday.

    • Ana

      That is cute, the blaming thing. Unfortunately one of them has scratched or bitten her several times and she cries for a few seconds and then goes back for more. We try to keep them separated, but the cats jump over the baby gates, and if I lock them in a room they yowl. It seems like the one cat initiates this stuff on purpose for attention. I am convinced he’s trying to get her to fall down the stairs, because he sits one or two steps down from the top (which he never does if she isn’t nearby) and fluffs his poofy tail while looking in her direction. She bends over trying to pet him and it gives me a mini heart attack as I rush over to grab her. The cat-baby interaction is probably the most stressful thing at home right now, other than keeping dangerous things out of her hands.

    • elle

      As that’s sad and stressful! Yeah in that situation I definitely would be at a loss as well…..sorry I couldn’t have any advice!

    • Véronique Houde

      Don’t worry about it. My daughter is just one and I’ve been letting the cat swat at her if she gets too rough with him – but only because i trust my cat deeply and know that he will never do anything to really hurt her. He only wants to scare her off. The great thing now is that she’s super gentle with him ;).

    • G.E. Phillips

      Natural consequences are often the best deterrent to repeat bad behavior!

    • Coby

      Have you read Happiest Toddler on the Block? Super helpful in my house, and it gives some great tips that we use.

      But to your point, when my daughter does stuff like that (hit, pinch, scratch), I take her hands in mine, look her in the eyes, and say, “We use soft touches. Soft.” And I gently touch her face. 9 times out of 10, she will softly touch my face back, and I exude as much happiness as I can that she’s done it. Now, if she’s having a full-on fit and just wants to physically lash out, I’ll put her down and tell her that I won’t let her hurt me. Or I’ll try to redirect her to hit a pillow. My experience is that if she’s lashing out like this, she’s really upset about something else and that something else needs to be addressed for her.

    • Ana

      I will have to get it, thanks. Those are good approaches you mentioned too.

    • EX

      I found time outs to be ineffective with my daughter at that age but what I would do is sort of a reverse time out. If she hit me (which generally happened when we were playing and she took things too far) I would say “I’m not playing with you if you hit me” and I’d set a timer for a minute and ignore her for that minute. That was really effective with my daughter at that age. We also bought the book “hands are not for hitting” and I used that phrase a lot with her. I agree with what others said that this phase won’t last too long, so hang in there!

  • Not a parent. MockMyInsights.

    I am sorry, but this post just annoys the crap out of me. If you choose not to spank your children–delightful. Carry on. But don’t say that people who do spank their children are horrible people raising aggressive people. Frankly, you’re a hairs breath away from calling it abuse (which you don’t and I’m not saying you do).
    Some people spank their children, but I’ve never met anyone who condones spanking a kid over the age of about 6, and I’ve never ever met someone who condones hitting (or slapping) a child at all.
    While I don’t personally *plan* to spank my kids, (mainly because it just isn’t my parenting style) I was spanked. My brother’s were spanked. Most of the friends that I have were spanked. There’s not an abusive, aggressive (outside of Spoons–card game) person among us.
    I totally respect your right to say that you won’t spank your kids and that you think it’s wrong. I absolutely don’t respect a person who says that spanking–which is a parenting choice–is borderline abusive.

    • elle

      But it isn’t Maria saying it. It’s actually researchers/professors who have done well….research and studies on it and came to these conclusions.

    • brebay

      Spanking is hitting.

    • brebay

      Well, it kind of becomes other peoples’ business when people teach their kids that hitting is an effective means of conflict resolution and then send them to school with our kids. Of course it’s a parenting choice, so are lots of terrible, illogical things that hurt children and aren’t illegal. Most people aren’t saying it’s abuse (though I may) but just that it’s ineffective and that studies show it makes kids more, not less, aggressive and angry. People are allowed to their opinions, and I don’t think anyone’s going to lose sleep over not having the respect of a stranger with whom they disagree.

    • Allen

      1. Just because you personally don’t know anyone who spanks kids over six doesn’t mean that such people don’t exist. One of the scary things about spanking, in my opinion, is that a lot of people have their own definitions and are prone to assuming that other people will share those definitions. Some people define spanking as a quick slap given to a toddler who’s about to hurt themselves. Some people define it as whipping their kids with electric cords or belts.

      2. Spanking is, by definition, a form of hitting/slapping.

      3. Just because spanking is borderline abusive (and yes, I definitely, wholeheartedly believe that) doesn’t mean that all parents who do it are bad people who mean to hurt their children. I think most are trying their best and would never want to harm their kids.

      4. Just because you and your brothers weren’t harmed doesn’t mean that spanking is smart or that other kids aren’t harmed.

    • Alicia Kiner

      Define abuse.

  • elle

    I have always been super firm on no spanking my son my parents didn’t believe in spanking and I don’t either. I will always remember the one time I lost my cool with my toddler (please don’t get too angry I still feel incredibly guilty over it and honestly it is hard to even write about) he knocked my glasses off my face (on purpose) and they broke. I put him down really fast so when his feet hit the ground and I let go of him he lost his balance and fell on his butt and I yelled at him to not do that again and I can never forget the look on his face it still just tears me up inside. And yes he did get ice cream that night. Just from that one experience I can’t imagine wanting to spank your child routinelyor quite frankly even defending your right to spank your child. And honestly I think spanking IS borderline child abuse and if we are talking to train up a child Michael and Debbie Pearl style spanking that is straight up child abuse.

    • brebay

      Holy crap. I just googled these “people” who recommend using a quarter-inch plumbing hose to “break your child’s will,” and turning the garden hose on them. Straight up nut-jobs. Don’t beat yourself up over what happened with you son. We all make mistakes, it’s the people who believe they don’t who really do damage….and fucked-up sadists like these Pearls….sick.

  • Spy Koopa

    This is one reason I will never have children. I would resort to spanking.

    Or at least, that’s what has been my experience from babysitting. The few times I have done it I wanted to get the heck out of the house in one hour. Maybe it’s because they weren’t my kids, but I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do.

    Threaten them with a time out? Ha! They just laugh and continue what they’re doing, and since you aren’t the parent too freaking bad for you! They’ll just call their parents and cry about what a mean babysitter I am.

    Threaten to send them to bed or take something away? Again, the same thing. Absolutely no power whatsoever. Time outs and such were the things my brother and mother suggested when I told them about these problems and couldn’t even fathom how those weren’t working for me.

    I don’t know, personally I’m not good at handling children at all. Perhaps it would be different if they were my “own” (aka adopted since there is no way in heck I want to get pregnant or go through the diaper stage). I certainly wouldn’t ever spank anyone else’s children.

    I was spanked a few times, and so did my brother. I don’t even remember when/why. But those never made a lasting impression, I just know it happened. Being spit in my face by my father and having a chair thrown at me by him definitely did though, but those were just bullet points in my growing dislike for him.

    Point is, I think the experience of spanking is different for everyone, depending on how it was done, where, by who, how many times, etc. It hasn’t effect me as a person and I don’t think I would spank my “own” kids if I have them, mostly because they might actually feel intimidated by me, but I’m not going to go and bash others who use it sparingly and not in public.

    • brebay

      It hasn’t affected you as a person, but you have no idea how to discipline the kids you babysit for a few hours, seem to think they mock you, laugh at you, and you don’t want kids. Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting kids, but I think your experiences definitely have affected you. The problem with this whole “I got spanked and turned out fine” is that the self-reporting aspect of it is inherently flawed.

    • Alicia Kiner

      It sounds to me like those kids need some discipline in their lives…. From their parents. Jeez.

  • Fran

    I was spanked with a leather belt by my dad. He called it “the strap.” He had a very volatile temper and would swear and scream at people in traffic and get into physical altercations with strangers. He didn’t go overboard with spankings, though. My stepmother, on the other hand, took it a few steps beyond and not only spanked us but beat us and flung us down stairs, made us stand in the corner for 8 hours at a time, and once hit me so hard my glasses flew off my face and broke. Do I think this made me a more aggressive person? Absolutely. Will I hit my kids? I will shove my own hands in a wood chipper before I ever put a hand on them in anger.

    Good on you if your parents hit you and you’re no worse for wear, but that didn’t happen with me.

    • http://fairlyoddmedia.com/ Frances Locke

      I’m sorry for your troubles. That sounds like a nightmare. My grandmother, who helped raise me for part of my childhood, used to make me go out to the woods behind our house and “pick my own switch.” I don’t think I’m more aggressive, per se, because of this. But it did leave a hugely negative lasting impression on me. I would also never hit my kids. I’d rather have my hands torn off.

    • Carls

      THATS abuse
      throwing and hittingnso hardyour glases break
      butbspanking with the stap thats good parnting (only if under 4 or 5 in my opinion after that there is some sexual pleassure between adult and child after that)

  • Alicia Kiner

    See, I find that you can totally instill the whole fear of Mom power into your children WITHOUT spanking. Yes, I was spanked as a kid. My dad made this paddle out of a piece of wood and drilled holes in so it would hurt more and wrote our names on it. That was the rule in our house, if it didn’t have our name on it, we couldn’t be hit by it. Weird now that I look back, but that’s just the way it was. I’m pretty sure what my dad did as a punishment was more abuse, and that’s not how I raise my kids. And my kids are great. Oddly enough, the only person that tells me my kids are bad or don’t listen is my dad.

  • Mel

    I’m worried b/c my cousin and her mother are already spanking her 7.5 month old. I’ve tried to share with her the studies on this issue, but she’s the kind of person who doesn’t get vaccines b/c someone told her they make you sick. I’ve tried explaining that even if spanking weren’t wrong, the point of it is to teach consequences and a baby can’t understand them. Nothing makes a difference. I’m devoted to both them and the baby and am active in his care, so I see this regularly and I’m not sure I have any right to discuss it further. I’m torn between trying to be his advocate and respecting her autonomy as the mother.

    • pixie

      Do you have any friends who work in the medical field or law field that you could discuss this with? Because there is no reason ever why an infant should be hit (I don’t think there’s a reason ever to hit your child as punishment regardless of their age, but that’s not relevant to this). I’m not saying call Child Services or anything, but maybe discuss with someone in a professional field of law or medical who could give you advice on what to do.

    • Mel

      I work around attorneys all day, so that’s a good idea for a conversation. At this point, it’s only swats on his leg when he squirms and on his mouth when he screams, but it breaks my heart a little each time. Especially since he’s actually a terrific baby. He’s one of the best-behaved babies I’ve ever known. Not that it’s okay to spank “bad” babies, but I’m just saying it’s not like he’s colicky or something that would be driving her to her wit’s end.

    • Rachel Sea

      That really is abuse, no question. I can understand your reluctance to escalate your concern to CPS, but maybe you could start with the baby’s pediatrician.

    • Mel

      That’s a reasonable option. I know him, so I could express my concerns and maybe he can discuss it with her.

    • Rachel Sea

      Please do, and soon. If it escalates…

    • Mel

      I know. She’s a really kind and caring person. I don’t believe it would ever go beyond the spanking that most of our parents did and we “turned out fine.” I don’t mean to imply that she’s out of her mind or anything. Again, I just don’t know what all my “rights” are. Lots of parents spank. I don’t like it, but on this site everyone rightly rails against those who don’t respect the parents’ choices. I don’t want to make assumptions and cross lines. I’m really torn. I appreciate the suggestions.

    • Emil

      I’m not suggesting CPS as a punitive measure. Their job is ideally to help parents find better ways of dealing with behavior. That being said many parents are very reactive when CPS is called so talking to the pediatrician maybe the best option at this point.

    • Rachel Sea

      You’re not really in a position to know if she would escalate, because you love them too much to be objective. Very few relatives, when you read about a baby being hit or shaken to death, believe that it could have been other than an accident. I’m not sure what you mean about your rights. Every person has the right to take necessary steps to ensure a child’s welfare, and anyone who knowingly allows child abuse to continue can be liable for endangerment if it ever comes to prosecution.

    • Emil

      I can appreciate how difficult this situation is for you. This little guy is lucky you are looking out for him.

    • Mel

      Thanks. I love him so much and I’m childfree so I’m not sure what all the “rules” are. I’ve never been in this situation before so I’m open to suggestions. I want to make sure I’m not overreacting and judging based on my own views on spanking instead of discussing reasonable disagreement. Again, since it’s not my child and he’s not being injured, I just don’t know what authority I have to try to change this.

    • Rachel Sea

      You are not overreacting. He may not be experiencing physical injuries now, but if this is how she copes with a baby, how will she cope with a toddler? A five-year-old? A teen? She and her mother need help.

      You have every authority to report, because you are a human. Anyone can report child abuse. There is literally nothing stopping you except your own reluctance.

    • Mel

      Yes, I’m reluctant. You caught me. I’ve heard and read enough dreadful scenarios where people interfered and judged parents and there was often righteous backlash and preaching about the need to respect the autonomy of parents even when you deeply disagree with their choices. I’m using caution with my own family just like everyone says we should with strangers.

    • Rachel Sea

      She was hit, she’s hitting her baby, you know them, they’re family. This is not the kind of scenario where you are making a snap judgement on incomplete information. You are looking at the whole picture, and seeing a cycle of abuse. It’s not as bad as it could be (yet) but it could, and should be a whole lot better.

    • Simone

      A ‘swat’ on his mouth when he screams just kind of hurts my spirit. That is so dangerous psychologically, I just can’t go into the way that is affecting a child of this age.

    • Ana

      It is heartbreaking that people would physically punish an infant. Babies have no idea what they’re doing. The only way they can express themselves is their voice. It’s just making them distrustful of people.

    • Simone

      He’s being ‘punished’ for expressing his needs in the only way he can. At a very young age. It’s just so dangerous for his long-term development.

    • LaidbackLiz

      I was spanked, and I *may* spank my son when he’s older – but right now he’s only 14 months old. My mom’s a child psychologist, and yes, she spanked me. I applaud your outlook to protect the mother’s right to choose her parenting style, but this is insane. When my son is 5 and does something dangerous and deliberate my husband and I will discuss the way to handle it, but right now he can’t ‘reason’ out that he did something wrong (although squirming and screaming?? That’s just being a baby!!) all he knows is that Mommy the person that’s there to take care of him all day, to rock him when he’s sick, to hold him when he’s scared is hurting him – that’s it. Smacks on the face are unacceptable, period. I’m sure many will disagree with my saying I might, one day, spank, under certain circumstances BUT there are lines in the sand and even as a possible future spanker – what she’s doing cross mine.

    • Mel

      Thank you for your thoughts, but at this point, I would think that it’s been very well established that the spanking of the baby is wrong. I know it, we all know it. And, apparently my concerns about the realities of the consequences of jumping in without a good plan are completely unreasonable and if I don’t march over there right this second with both the police and Child Services, then I’m the worst person in the world and whatever happens is all my fault.

      I’ve really had enough at this point. I’ve got a call into an attorney, I’ve searched the laws in my state, I’m going to speak to my own therapist about it for advice. I’ve done and am doing the best I can in this terrible situation, and that’s all that anyone can expect.

    • brebay

      punish an infant for squirming? WTF? These people may close to you, but they’re dumb as hell. Babies’ brains flat out don’t have the ability to keep their bodies from squirming around like that. And crying? Uh, it’s kind of nature’s way of getting a completely helpless person to get someone to feed him. I’m sorry, but at 7 months this isn’t even about spanking, it’s just about having absolutely no idea what the hell a baby is! If your loyalties are divided here between a helpless infant and someone who hits it in the mouth for being human, you need a serious gut-check. I hope someone you tell is a mandated reporter, because these knuckle-draggers could sure as hell benefit from some intervention.

    • Mel

      I agree with you that the spanking is completely wrong. I said that before. But I don’t understand why I “need a gut check” for not knowing what to do. She’s not technically injuring her baby, so am I still supposed to report her or have her arrested? I’m not “divided” between who I love more, I’m divided on what my rights actually are. Your response was incredibly hurtful. Please don’t talk to me about this anymore. It’s not helpful and I’m already upset enough about the issue.

    • brebay

      They won’t arrest her, they’ll likely institute a voluntary CPS case if she’s open to it, give her some parenting classes, etc. And hitting a baby in the mouth is NOT SPANKING! Your rights are not the issue, the baby’s rights are. you call CPS and they will investigate. Arrest is not the first course of action, education and intervention is. And I don’t care if you’re upset. You’re not helpless and no one’s hitting you when you open your mouth.

    • Mel

      Wow, you’re pretty volatile. I sincerely apologize for asking for help here. You obviously don’t care who you upset as long as you get to rant and judge. We’re done here.

    • Rachel Sea

      In all fairness, whether or not you are upset is much less important than a baby not being abused. I really do understand your hesitance, but this isn’t a gray area. If she and her mother are hitting her baby, steps need to be taken right away. When I say you should call the pediatrician soon, I mean within the next half hour.

    • Mel

      Here, in this forum, which is supposed to be about support and information, yes it does matter. Telling me I need a gut check and questioning my “loyalties” when I’m the only one in the family who is raising this issues is unfair and absurd. I obviously care deeply about this baby or else I wouldn’t be asking for help. It’s not about me, it’s about him. So, attacking and judging me certainly doesn’t help him. It only serves to sanctimommy me.

    • Rachel Sea

      I think you can understand though why people would flip their biscuit, that you know that what is happening is wrong, but haven’t taken steps to make it stop. Not everyone can be calm about child abuse.

      I’m looking to foster-adopt, and so looking at a lot of child profiles, and researching cases, and so many of them seem to have started with just what you describe, and ended with “non-accidental trauma,” “brain damage,” “reactive attachment disorder,” “inappropriate social interaction,” “prone to violence.” If intervention had come sooner, it seems like a lot of these little kids would still be with their parents, but too often it’s the ER where CPS is first involved.

      Asking our advice is a good opener, but now you have to act on it.

    • Mel

      I already said I have tried to discuss the issue with her about the science and other studies. I tried to rationalize with her that babies can’t understand or modify their behavior, and so spanking is inherently unfair. I haven’t been sitting around doing nothing. When those tacks didn’t work, I took to this site for some advice. I’m doing the best I can here. Preaching at me, even though you’re rightfully upset just like I am, isn’t helping me rationally attack this issue. Thanks for taking the time to reply.

    • Justme

      Brebay is hitting the nail on the head, though. It’s not really about what kind of “rights” you have in regards to this baby…it’s about what is right for the baby. Think about it in regards to the school system. As a teacher, I have a legal (and a moral) obligation to report any kind of abuse that I hear or see in regards to a student. Period. Even if it is the most wonderful family who has always been supportive of me as their child’s teacher…if their child tells me that he/she is being molested or beaten, I have to turn it in. You have the same obligation to this baby because he can’t speak up for himself. And to be honest, they’re not going to immediately take her baby away, but they might make sure she takes some parenting classes – it might be the wake-up call that she needs to realize how her behavior is affecting her child.

    • Emil

      Please make an anonymous call to CAS, I mean it. That is completely unacceptable.

    • Emil

      not judging you at all by the way just distressed reading this

    • Mel

      I’ve considered that but there are two problems: there are no injuries or proof and spanking your own child is not illegal per se; and there’s no way it would be anonymous since I’m the only one who has voiced opposition and am one of the few people regularly watching the kid. I risk losing all access to him with little hope of actually effecting change.

    • Rachel Sea

      Look up spanking laws in your state. Many states are very specific, and I’m not familiar with any that allow hitting on the face.

    • Emil

      Even if it is not illegal I’m pretty sure CPS would see it as reason to investigate.

    • Mel

      I’m in the deep south…. Enough said.

    • Rachel Sea

      Not “enough said.” I am aware of laws in Mississippi, and hitting on the face is not legal there.

    • elle

      Ugh did she read to train up a child? That is just completely awful.

    • Mel

      The irony is that she was furious when my horrible mother denied the baby it’s bottle because she was, and I quote, “trying to teach him some manners.” She talked about how she will never leave her baby alone with my mother b/c of how she treated us and how she treats this new baby. Yet she spanks a 7.5 month old. SMH.

      The more I say it “out loud” the more I realize how fucked up so many of my peeps are. Does anyone want to adopt me??

    • elle

      What the hell? That is insane! If you want to come live in Utah I will adopt you!

    • Mel

      Thanks :)

    • Rachel Sea

      Sure, and bring the baby with you.

    • Mel

      Tempting, but my goal is definitely not to be the baby momma. I love him, but I don’t want kids. I know you were joking, but it’s kinda what I’m dealing with. He’s not my kid and no one is injuring him. I can’t “take” him or take over her parenting decisions. (obviously you weren’t suggesting I actually take him)

    • Rachel Sea

      Kidnapping is bad, but I’m only half joking about taking you both in. I tried for ages to get pregnant, and failed. I’d totally adopt her baby in a non-felonious way.

    • Mel

      I’m so sorry about your pregnancy issues :( Adopting is hopefully something that will work out for you.

    • Simone

      No, fuck her autonomy as a mother. She’s hitting a baby. Fuck her. Where’s the dilemma for you?

    • Mel

      You’re right, there’s clearly no dilemma. Even though there’s no proof and no injuries, I would definitely lose my access to the baby and be shunned by my entire family. Gosh, clearly I’m not caring enough because I’m thinking it through and considering all angles of this. I should freak out b/c some rando on the internet questions my love and decency and decides for me. Thanks, you were really helpful.

    • brebay

      You still don’t get that the consequences to you are not even close to as important as a baby getting hit in the mouth. There doesn’t need to be “proof.” You saw it, that’s enough. No one’s going to come in with guns blazing and an arrest warrant. Better you not be shunned and let the baby keep getting hit. THERE ARE NO OTHER ANGLES!!!

    • Mel

      To say that the consequences to me are irrelevant is ridiculous. If I’m no longer with the baby it’s not just that my heart is broken, but there’s also no one who there who thinks the hitting is wrong.

      And yes, proof does matter. I’ve worked in the court system for years, in domestic violence specifically, and proof matters. If you think it doesn’t you’re living in a fantasy land.

      I appreciate your concern. It’s touching and I know your caring for the baby is genuine. But this is the real world, and if I don’t “play” this right, I’m out and nothing is gained for the baby. So, I’d appreciate it if you’d get up off my back and try to help me think of something productive instead of telling me to go in there with both guns blazing without concern for the realistic consequences.

    • brebay

      I’m not on your back. I have as much right to comment as you do. A phone call would be oversight for the baby. You’re being selfish. Half a dozen people have given you the right answer, you just don’t like it. You tried reason, it didn’t work. Calling CPS is productive. You say you’re trying to react rationally but that’s just false. If you were rational, you’d have called by now, you’re reacting emotionally because of your connection. What answer are you waiting for? Everyone has told you the same thing. And every day you wait that baby gets hit again. You keep weighing your interests against the baby’s and that’s wrong. There’s no way around it.

    • Mel

      I’m sorry you feel I’m being selfish. Well, I’m really not b/c you’re just some person ranting at me but not actually helping anyone. Yes, lots of people gave me helpful suggestions. You’re not one of them. You’re just one of those sad people who like to judge others. Sad for you. You don’t actually care about being productive, you just want to impress yourself with your self-righteousness. I hope you and you are very happy together. Goodbye.

    • LaidbackLiz

      I can’t see the response I got from you that I read in my email but I just wanted to respond. You’re absolutely right, I was just upset reading this and another vehement comment about how wrong it was, was not constructive at all. It had already been established, I was just jumping on board to agree. I, like you, have worked with many attorneys and I completely sympathize with the situation you’re in knowing how this all works. I once picked up a child who was running from a man that was literally beating him in the middle of a grocery store (his recently deceased mother’s boyfriend who somehow had custody). The little boy managed to wiggle away and ran for the nearest ‘safe’ looking person and it was me – I ended up being assaulted by the man who had been beating the little boy and later nearly stalked by him when he received repercussions for his actions. I’m so glad that you’re checking into what routes you have to help your sweet little cousin but wanted to let you know I think you’re absolutely right to bide your time and take slow and cautious steps. Running in guns blazing will likely result in little if no interference from child services with no evidence or marks made and then you’re pulled from the situation unable to give him a ‘safe haven’ or document or observe other ‘spankings’. You’re in an incredibly, incredibly difficult situation and given that you don’t have children of your own should not have such a burden of responsibility. I admire that you’re taking it on anyway and that you love your cousin (the baby) enough to stand up for him and do it carefully so that you’re always a part of his life. My apologies for jumping on the bandwagon with no constructive input or new ideas given. At this point I think you probably have more information than what I could offer up as ‘advice’ but I did want to come back and say I DON’T agree that you should just jump in feet first with reckless abandon – kudos for following the process and doing what’s best long term vs short term. I know you don’t need my praise, but I wanted you to know that anyway.

    • Mel

      Thanks for your kind reply! I’ve spoken to some people in the system and it’s agreed that at this point there’s nothing I can prove so the only result of reporting would be for me to lose contact with him. I love him too much to risk that with no reward. I’m going to keep talking with the mother in a reasonable manner and hope it influences her. If and when actual injuries occur I will be in a position to act.

      I’m so sorry for your horrible incident when you tried to help another child. Some people are just evil. Hopefully that horrible man never gets his hands on your or a child again.

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    • brebay

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    • brebay

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  • FF4life

    I don’t believe in hitting children. Teenagers on the other hand…

  • Elisa Probert

    I know I was spanked as a child. The ONLY spankings I remember are the ones that were completely unfair and not even remotely “right.”

    My siblings and I were home schooled. This meant that while I, the oldest, was studying religiously, my younger siblings were often playing and this often turned into them fighting. It would get to where i couldn’t focus on my work anymore, and if I told mom that they were fighting, they’d get spanked for hitting and biting, and then I’d get spanked for tattling. Worse for my middle sister, who was never involved at all, it was an all or nothing proposition, and she’d get spanked when she’d just been sitting quietly with a book or toy! The last time, I was 12 and didn’t even SAY anything. I stayed in my room while they screamed and raged upstairs, but I slammed my bedroom door since less noise would come in if the door was closed, and I was pissed. I heard mom go up and spank them, and then…she came back downstairs and spanked me, too, for slamming the door and grumbling. The plastic flyswatter handle she used as a paddle broke. So, nobody got spanked anymore.

    I’d like to say we all “turned out fine” but honestly, I can’t say that. One sister is on disability for a combination of opthamalogical migraines, and emotional problems, still lives with the parents at 31. Youngest sister works a minimum wage job and won’t even TRY to look for something better, also still lives at home at 27. Brother went off and joined the Army at 17, spent four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then got himself into a world of legal trouble by flipping a car in a moment of panic and anger. I have suffered from severe depression since I was about 11, finally got help for it when I hit my 30s and realized, it wasn’t getting better no matter how much I “fought it.” To be honest, knowing the depression is genetic in Mom’s family, I probably shouldn’t even have any kids.

    Still thinking about it though. I just know that spanking will be off limits for anyone who deals with my kid. If anyone spanks my kid, I will probably punch them, since, ya know, hitting is okay in their world.

  • Notsaying

    I was spanked as a child. Hell, I was severely abused as a child, between being hit, and being made to do things that no child should ever do, and so many things that, well, lets just leave it at there are pretty much three kinds of abuse, mental, physical, and sexual, and I got to have all three by different members of my family, but mostly my stepfather. My stepbrothers were not abused at all. And yet I am the one who has a quiet life, two kids who love me, and I love them, I actually took myself out of a 12 year abusive relationship when I saw my kids were being hurt by it, even though he was their dad, and well, my stepbrothers, on the other hand, have both been to jail several times, have both got drinking and drug problems, and well, are not exactly pillars of society. I have never been to jail, have never been addicted to drugs or alcohol, etc. This study says nothing to me. Abused, yet fine as an adult. Not abused, total fuckups to society. And yeah, I will be honest, I have given my kids a swat on the butt when it has been needed. They are in no way abused, trust me, I know, and they are not in any way damaged. They have gotten swats when they have done something truly dangerous. I honestly cannot remember the last time they got a spanking, because it is that rare. They love me though, and are very very happy children. Normally I sign in, and say things under my own name, but because of admitting to being abused, plus the fact that I admitted I have spanked my kids, I don’t really want my name out there. I just totally disagree with this study. Oh, and I do daycare, and am a mandatory reporter, and had to take a class on what could be reported. At least in my state, a swat to the bottom with a bare hand that does not leave a mark is allowed. I would be laughed away at if I tried to report something like that.

    • Simone

      I’m sorry for your pain, and it’s an awful story, but I’m not sure how you disagree with a study? It analyses data and produces generalisable analyses which are likely to apply to most members of the population under study. Of course there are exceptions, like you, because we aren’t robots.

  • MoD

    My husband and I both definitely agree on the no spanking or hitting our son. But I was spanked as a kid and my son’s just coming into the age where he’s getting into things and being naughty. He’s not old enough, though, to realize what he’s doing is naughty. So the other day he got into something for the second or third time, and I told him for the second or third time no, and I definitely had the urge to swat his hand. Probably because that’s how I was dealt with as a child. I feel like no hitting or spanking will be a struggle for me sometimes. But I definitely don’t want him growing up fearing physical pain from me.

  • kg

    I follow that spanking has increasingly negative outcomes associated with it. Aggression begets aggression… So assuming that many of us had parents who spanked us (most likely because they simply didn’t know better as the studies on the harmful effects have been done only recently) how do we combat the issue that there is a generation of parents who will need to reconcile the clear, obvious-to-most recommendation not to spank with the fact that they may have been spanked themselves and are therefore more prone to violent discipline? I am a new parent who was spanked as a child. Thankfully I can say with certainty that my parents probably did so because they weren’t aware of the harmful effects back then, not because they were in some way OK with child abuse. I’m not prepared to say I was abused by my parents simply because they didn’t know any better. I don’t have to discipline my daughter yet because she is only two months old, but when I do, spanking is off the table for us because we have heard of the harmful effects and we want to use non physical discipline because of that. I guess what I am saying is that I really believe that even among pro-spanking populations, the majority of parents love their kids and want to do what is best for them. How do we help parents that may be predisposed to being violent, without just saying “spanking is bad, don’t do it “… I don’t think it’s as easy as that especially since many of these now-parents were spanked themselves. It adds another layer.

  • http://SommelierinSneakers.blogspot.com/ SomminSneakers

    I was living with a friend who thinks spanking is a great parenting tool. When I told her that I thought it was never ok to physically strike a child, under any circumstances, she told me, ‘It’s not physically striking them.’ What is it then??

  • LaidbackLiz

    I’ll probably be the ‘black sheep’ of this post after saying what I want to say but, I’m going to say it anyway. I’m a 29 year old woman with a one year old son raised by child psychologist and developmentalist who is my mother first, but also my best friend – who spanked me. I only remember one of the spankings actually happening and I know I damn well deserved it that day (I know there will be those who disagree but even at the age of 5 I knew exactly how this was going to end, but I was going to do what I wanted because I was MAD) – my grandfather picked me up from school, I was dying to go home with him that day but mom said no because I had ballet that night (oh the horror, I know). My little sister was a baby and asleep in her crib (though she’d recently learned how to jump out) – while mom was talking to grandpa in the driveway I locked her out of the house and then stuck my tongue out at her through the glass in the door when she knocked to be let back in. This day, and every day that she spanked me (though I don’t remember the others) she had me and my sister lay on our beds first so we could think about why we were being punished and so that she could calm down first. I was only ever ‘popped’ two or three times, open hand, over clothes, etc. My husband on the other hand was spanked with belts, spoons, etc. I’m not OK with that. Anti-spankers will say this is a trivial line to draw, but it’s my child, and my line. I don’t know that I’ll spank him, he’s only 14 months old I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about a lot of things yet, but I will say that I think this research did not ring true for me. Every time I was spanked mom sat down and talked to me afterward (I do remember that part) and told me that though she didn’t like what I did, she still liked and always loved me and that there was a difference. I was probably only spanked about 5 times ever just because disappointing her was punishment enough – she made things so fun when we were well behaved. Spankings were reserved for when we did DANGEROUS things and I can’t say it damaged me or that I disagree with her parenting style, I think I turned out pretty well and so far all other mothering advice she’s given me has been incredible.

  • Vista

    Give me a break. I simply do not believe that spanking a child is going to make them aggressive. I know the go-to argument is always “I was spanked, and I turned out fine!”, and while it may be cliched and often repeated, it’s true for both my husband and me. And my mom was the so-called “pre-meditative spanker”. There was nothing creepy or abusive about it; when I did something wrong, she would give me the look, and I knew to go upstairs and wait for her. She didn’t lash out in the moment, she punished me accordingly, because young children are incapable of the higher level brain power required to have a rational conversation with them. And anyone who claims otherwise is either delusional or a liar. You can’t sit down with a four year old and ask them to explain to you why what they did was wrong, why they did such a thing, and what they will do differently in the future. Children aren’t at that level yet. They need to be taught in a way that brings immediate consequences to bad behaviour, and spanking does this. All studies like this do is to reinforce the modern idea that children are such delicate little flowers, and we must do everything possible to maintain their fragile existence, at the expense of raising well-behaved adults who know how to handle punishment and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Carls

    let me ask you this…
    if spanking causes vilionce then how come when almost every child was whipped when they were young there was hardly any vilionce at all? schools were still standing, kids were respectfull, and there was no kids killing kids!
    to many people want bgto treat toddlers as if they ae equal and they want to be to fucking nice! and “treat them like you would want to be treated” thats a bunch of BS