April 30th is NO SPANK DAY! Before you stop reading this latest bit on not spanking, please consider that I agree with you that spanking works, just maybe not in the ways most parents intended.
Spanking teaches valuable lessons. Yes, true, it does! It teaches that violence and love are inextricably connected. It teaches that the bigger, stronger person gets his way. It teaches that the people who love you are allowed to hit you. It teaches that sometimes, the people you trust will hurt you.
Spanking works. In the short term, true fact. Most of us will stop doing what we are doing if someone hits us. So, yes, in that regard, spanking works. But what about the long term? To better understand the effects of spanking we should consider the long term and short term effects of giving into a tantrum. When we yield to the screaming, flailing, tantrum throwing child in the grocery checkout line and give her the candy, it works. The screaming stops. The crying stops and the tantrum is over. Until the next time. We all know, the more we give into tantrums, the more they reoccur. In the same way, when we spank our children, it does work, for the moment, but what doesn’t work about spanking is long term success. Spanking puts an end to the undesirable behavior, but only in the here and now. Children who stop the undesirable behavior when spanked 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.
Researchers have found that children who are spanked show higher rates of aggression and delinquency in childhood than those who were not spanked. As adults, they are more prone to depression, feelings of alienation, use of violence toward a spouse, and lower economic and professional achievement. By spanking our children, we put them at higher risk for a host of psychological, physical and societal issues. Ninety percent of American parents spank, and as a nation we have the highest incidence of incarceration per capita in the world. Norway, on the other hand, abolished spanking in 1987 and has the lowest crime rate on the planet.
So what have you got to lose? It’s just one day, and it might just turn into one more, and one more after that. It might change the dynamic in your home and the future of your children for the better.
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!