THE NO SPANK DAY CHALLENGE! April 30th is No Spank Day. Are you taking the challenge? Why not? What have you got to lose? A LOT, actually! You lose the risk categories that spanking puts your child in. You lower the chances of aggression, delinquency, depression, feelings of alienation, use of violence toward a spouse, and lower economic and professional achievement. By not spanking our children, we lower their risk for a host of psychological, physical and societal issues.
Science now tells us that physical punishment alters the brain, not only in a traumatizing way, but also in a lessening of the gray matter in the physical brain. Researchers have found that children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex, linking this deficit in gray matter to depression, addiction, aggression, and other mental health disorders. The science behind spanking speaks loud and clear – the more gray matter one has in his/her thought processing part of the brain (the prefrontal cortex), the better one’s ability to evaluate consequences. When we spank our children, we essentially take away the self-control we are trying to instill.
Elizabeth Gershoff, leading researcher on spanking in the United States, has this to say about her fifteen years of systematic review of spanking, “There’s no study that I’ve ever done that’s found a positive consequence of spanking. Most of us will stop what we’re doing if somebody hits us, but that doesn’t mean we’ve learned why somebody hit us, or what we should be doing instead, which is the real motive behind discipline.”
Spanking actually sets our children up for a perpetual loop of bad behavior. Corporal punishment instills fear rather than understanding. Spanking sets a bad example, teaching children that violence is a solution to problems. Spanking also teaches our children that love and violence are inextricably connected, and puts our connection with our kids at risk.
I recently saw a post on social media saying that parents who think spanking doesn’t work aren’t doing it right. There is no such thing as the “right” way to spank. There is no “right” way to cause physical harm and pain to our children. Children for whom spanking works by stopping the undesirable behavior outgrow this method of “discipline” in time and haven’t really learned how to control behavior as much as they have learned to avoid punishment.
This April 30th take the challenge! You have only the negative to lose and so much more to gain!
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!