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“Only a spank, only a slap, only a pinch.” Would these forms of corporal punishment be considered minimal action for major headway or minimal action for major costs? Speculations on whether corporal punishment serves as an effective teaching method aimed at behavior modifications have intensified throughout the twenty-first century. While some may argue that spanking is expedient and disciplinary, others believe that it is just a euphemism for masked violence. The fine line between discipline and abuse with corporal punishment has led it to be a hot topic of controversy, requiring immediate action to be taken. Although corporal punishment may give the impression of halting undesirable behavior, its instant, yet short-lived, pros fall short of its everlasting cons.
Advocates of corporal punishment deliberately justify their unhindered support to these acts by stressing that spanking a child is different from abuse, thus believe that the child is not subjected to any actual harm. However, the thin line between spanking and actual abuse is far too fragile to be taking such risks. Once in anger or any state of distress, a parent can not be in full control of their actions; therefore, what may start as a harmless, light spank may end up as a severe beating. An article issued in 1993, Depression in Primary Care, emphasizes the repugnant risk factor linked to child abuse. The maltreatment of a child through corporal punishment may lead to functional impairments, although sometimes unintentionally. Abuse is merely defined as the cruel or violent treatment of a person or an animal, and spanking, slapping, pinching, or any other form of corporal punishment, fall under the same category, only more obscure.
Another justification, presented by corporal punishment supporters, would be its intensity, effectiveness, and short-duration. They believe that with only a spank, so much can be taught. However, what they fail to see is the major setback just behind that one spank. Yes, a spank might be able to get rid of the child’s undesirable behavior, yet a much more hostile behavior would be induced. Although immediate compliance may be the case, delayed shortcomings would follow through. For example, behaviors of aggression, violence, depression, and even poor academic performance would be noticed later on, in addition to other physical, psychological, and social obstructions. A study published in the Journal of Aggression Maltreatment and Trauma argued that spanking may lead to lower IQ as it hinders healthy thought processing in the long-run. With its limited effectiveness and disadvantageous intensity, spanking offers a major failure rate as a disciplinary tool.
Believers of corporal punishment as an effective tool of discipline finally argue that it instills respect and sets boundaries between the child and the parent. However, it only causes a barrier between the child and the parent as it reduces the influence and entices lies. Why would a parent, for a mere feeling of being in control, risk the loss of trust and security their child associates with them? Since trust and security are the essences of familial relations, the use of different forms of corporal punishment may be able to jeopardize the foundation of the child-parent relationship. Also, with time, the child will simultaneously begin to avoid the parent, especially in times of hardship. He or she will begin to seek other sources of support to fill the gap caused by the loss of belonging. These sources, of course, may be destructive and do more harm than good. Therefore, respect may be instilled, but trust and security are immediately torn out.
Behavior modification, especially that of children, can be achieved through several effective means. When a child disobeys, a parent is subjected to many methods of discipline, like grounding, giving a time-out, using logical consequences, and setting up a punishment-reward system. Yet, many parents still choose to follow the corporal punishment route, believing it is not considered abuse, it is effective due to its severity and short-duration, and it raises respect by the child to the parent. However, corporal punishment only sends a message of violence, has limited and temporary effectiveness, and damages parent-child relationships. Despite all arguments of the benefits of corporal punishment, it remains masked aggression that oppresses children in countless ways.
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