I understand I’m in the minority, but I don’t understand why people think it’s perfectly acceptable to hit children.
At one time it was perfectly acceptable to hit your wife to “teach her a lesson.” At one time it was perfectly acceptable to hit your slave to make him obey. Both cases stem from ownership of one person by another. Husbands owned their wives. Masters owned their slaves. Children are not property, so why is it legal for parents to hit children?
Some claim “Well, I was spanked as a kid and I turned out okay.” Yes, perhaps that’s true. You’re probably not a serial killer… Just like millions of smokers will probably never get lung cancer. But how would you have turned out had you not been spanked? Would you have better self control? Would you have had the self esteem to sail unscathed through those issues that led you into a deep depression a few years back? Would you be an overall happier person? We will never have the answers to these questions; however, I can only imagine that less violence in the home as a child can only lead to better-adjusted adults.
The US has the highest rate of deaths from child abuse among industrialized nations, at 2.4 per 100,000 children; France has 1.4, Japan 1, UK 0.9 and Germany 0.8. I find it interesting that of the countries the BBC chose to list here, Germany, the country showing with the lowest rate of death from child abuse, is the only country on the list where spanking is illegal. It is illegal in 30 other countries to spank your children.
My two cents is that the reason spanking sometimes “works” is because it’s very easy for a parent to consistently dole out a punishment like spanking. It doesn’t require any thinking, creativity, or actual teaching from the parent to swat a child. The parent disapproves of what the child is doing – swat ’em. It’s that easy. It’s not the actual spanking that’s “working,” it’s the firmness and consistency of the punishment. The problem is that so many parents in the US are just doing what they know – they’re raising their kids the same way they were raised themselves – without much thought. Sweden will soon celebrate a 35-year anniversary of their ban on physical punishment for children. They now have an entire generation of adults who weren’t spanked as children. These parents will raise their kids the same way they were raised – without violence in the home – and the nonviolence will perpetuate generation after generation. I think this is a beautiful thing.