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The debate regarding corporal punishment has been raging for years: Is it appropriate to spank your children? While individual opinions will vary, I personally believe that corporal punishment is a tool that parents should be able to utilize. Children may have trouble learning lessons if there is not a memory or feedback associated with it. If a young child misbehaves, they need to know that what they did is wrong. Otherwise, no lessons will be learned and the child may continue behaving in the same fashion.
On the other hand, spanking could potentially have some negative side effects. One possible side effect is that it could lead to aggression. Frequent spankings could potentially cause children to seek to control their interactions with others, resulting in increased physical contact with their peers. Also, a large majority of experts do believe that spanking is unnecessary (Campbell), and provides little or no benefits for behavioral modification. They believe that there is potential for doing it wrong, possibly doing it out of anger, and leading to trauma and other ineffective outcomes.
In my younger years, my parents generally utilized other forms of discipline as opposed to spanking. This all changed in a matter of minutes. I was having lunch outdoors with my mom, when she went inside to get napkins and told me to stay put. I had developed a habit of venturing off from time to time. Being a curious five year old, I decided to run all the way around the building complex this restaurant was located in. It was about two football fields long, so it took me several minutes to get around. My mom came back outside, and I was gone like the wind. For her, several panic-filled minutes passed, and she saw me turn the corner of the building, feeling relieved to recognize me. Once we got back in the car; however, it was a different story. I soon understood the severity of my actions.
Mom told me how scared she was that I had seemingly vanished. She reminded me that it was important for me to do as she said. To reinforce the point, she spanked me. I believe she was justified in using this form of punishment. I can still recall that particular spanking to this day. The moral of the story is that as a kid, I associated acting inappropriately with that spanking, and it stayed with me. Mom never spanked me because she wanted to; I simply just needed the reinforcement. This story is one of the reasons why I personally believe it is okay to spank your children.
If a serial killer is found guilty, does the judge ask them nicely not to do it again? A convicted felon of a crime to that degree will always receive a harsh punishment. By the same token, if a child behaves inappropriately, how are they supposed to truly know to never behave in that manner again? Although this analogy seems a bit extreme, it still applies.
Although spanking may seem extreme to some, it is actually an effective form of punishment. The “shock factor” is one of the main reasons why it is effective (Campbell). Keep in mind, spanking is not intended to be a household, regular form of corporal punishment. It is meant to be more of a last resort, so the shock factor can come into play. The goal is not to harm your child. The goal is simply for your child to know that their behavior is not acceptable, and they need to know why. When children have a memory associated with bad behavior, they are more likely to not be a repeat offender.
Research has shown that, “youngsters smacked up to the age of six did better at school and were more optimistic about their lives than those who were never hit by their parents” (Wardrop). Even the experts know that spanking can be a good thing. This form of punishment was never intended to insert dominance or power. Spanking was meant to be used as a lesson, not as aggression. Most people who are opposed to spanking believe that it is because the parent (or parent figure) does this act out of anger or aggression. However, this is rarely the case.
Although many are against spanking, I believe this form of discipline is an acceptable strategy when used properly. As a teaching tool, spanking gives children a physical stimuli and a memory to associate with their bad behavior. Without such reinforcement, behavioral issues may be more difficult to correct.
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