Have you heard about the latest study that has come out on spanking? What were the results? “Spankings are ineffective and harmful for children” is the usual answer. I have nothing against studies, but these studies have always been suspect to me. I myself was spanked as a kid. I didn’t turn out so great (a joke), but I know mounds of respectable, friendly, loving, and otherwise great people who also were spanked as children. And I know for sure that they turned out great. Among these friends and acquaintances, I’m not sure if I can think of one that has an estranged relationship with their parents, and, as far as I knew, all of them now spank their own children.
But this isn’t the main reason that I am suspect of these studies. The main reason is because I have often come across kids that are very disrespectful, rude, uncontrolled, and just plain annoying. These children, it turns out, are often victims of not being spanked.
Once, at a grocery store, my children and I watched as a little boy flung himself on the floor and threw a fit over not getting what he wanted from his mother. I couldn’t help but chuckle when my six year old said to me, “That kid needs a spanking.”
Great wisdom, I think, was in that comment. My experience has been not with people being spanked too much (although I know that many people are, indeed, abused), but with children who need a spanking and aren’t getting it. And I don’t just mean that they just need a spanking to correct their immediate behavior, but I mean something further. I mean that the parents are doing their children a huge disservice that will result in many difficulties later in life. Spankings, when done properly, help children to be self-disciplined, respectful, hard-working, appreciative, and much more. By denying spanking, many children are denied these vitally important life skills. Can children develop these life skills without spankings? Yes, I think some of them can. Some kids (like my first born) just seem to be more inclined to want to please their parents. With them, just a disapproving look is almost all you need. But most children, I think, are not like that (especially boys). They need moderate, yet effective corporeal punishment from time to time.
(Disclaimer: I understand that there are many variables when it comes to child discipline: Single parenthood, income level, education level, etc. This survey does not seek to be a scientific study but a way to gather some general data regarding spanking and discipline).
I often would relate to people from time to time how I know many people who were spanked/do spank and are great people, but this was just anecdotal from conversations here and there. So I had the thought to issue a short survey among my friends and acquaintances on social media to see if I would get the results that I thought I would get.
Of course, purpose of this survey is not to portray an idea that this is in any way professional or scientific or properly controlled, but it is to provide a little bit of muscle behind my anecdotal surmisings. It will help some of you who are unsure about spanking your children have further evidence that spankings are not just OK, but healthy and helpful for children.
The Study – From 135 Responses
Question 1: Were you spanked or otherwise physically disciplined as a Child?
The purpose of this question was set the groundwork for the rest of the survey. Out of 135, only ten were never spanked as a child. I didn’t gather information on why they were not spanked. However, one person told me that she was never spanked simply because she was a good child, not because her parents did not believe in spankings.
Question 2: Do you feel like the punishments you received as a child could be classified as abuse?
This questioned was designed to distinguish between those who considered their punishments as child abuse and those who did not. Sadly, 13 people did count themselves as abused as a child.
Question 3: Are you grateful for the type of upbringing you received as a child?
This question was designed to gauge how each respondent felt about their childhood upbringing. Surprisingly, only seven of the thirteen respondents who counted themselves as victims of abuse said no, that they were not grateful. Otherwise, 90% said they were grateful for their upbringing, with some mixed responses besides that.
Question 4: How would you rate your relationship with your parents when you were a child?
Question 5: How would you rate your relationship with your parents as an adult?
These questions were designed to seek to understand how spankings (or lack thereof) contributed to the child/parent relationship. Opponents to spankings often push the idea that spankings hurt parent/child relationships. My survey found that the vast majority of respondents reported great relationships with their parents as children and as adults, with only one person reporting a very poor relationship with their parents as an adult.
Question 6: Do you/did you spank your own children?
This question was designed to see if respondents who were themselves spanked would repeat the same kind of punishment for their children. Out of all of the respondents who were spanked themselves, only three reported that they did not spank their own children. Also, out of all who reported that they were not spanked as a child, only one reports that they spank/spanked their own children.
If spanking were such a horrific thing, wouldn’t more people who were spanked as children desire to spare their own children from such horror? However, we see from this survey that most people who were spanked were thankful that they were spanked and desired to raise their own children according to the pattern that their parents set for them.
Question 7: Are you generally happy with the way you raised / are raising your children?
Question 8: How would you rate your relationship with your children?
Question 9: How old are your children?
These questions were designed to see if the parents who were surveyed had regrets over spanking their children. Nine percent of the respondents had no children. Out of all those who reported that they did spank their children, only two reported that they were not happy with how they raised their children. Out of the ten who did not spank their children, two reported that they were not happy with how they raised their children and one other commented that their children lacked discipline and respect. Out of the 45 people who had all adult children, no one reported having a poor relationship with their children, regardless of the type of punishments they used.
Question 10: How many children do you have?
No significant patterns emerged from the data from this question. I wish I would have been more specific and asked about step-children, adopted children, and mixed families.
Question 11: “My upbringing has contributed to my success as an adult”
In hindsight, I wish I would have asked this question differently, because some people may have had a horrible childhood that challenged them to be successful as an adult. Also, some people may have had wonderful upbringings but consider themselves as unsuccessful adults.
Most people either Strongly Agreed or Agreed with no significant patterns to report. The answers even varied too much among those who reported abuse to draw any significant conclusions.
Question 12: “Spanking is an important part of child discipline”
This question was meant to gauge the respondents general attitude towards spankings. Out of the ten people who were not spanked as children, none reported to Agree or Strongly Agree with this statement. Three were Neutral. Out of those who did not spank their own children, one reported to Agree with this statement, two were Neutral, and rest either Disagreed or Strongly Disagreed.
Out of the 125 respondents who were spanked as children, 16 either Disagreed or Strongly Disagreed with this statement. Two of those 16 were abused as children. 25 respondents who were spanked as children were Neutral, the rest either Agreed or Strongly Agreed with that spankings are a important part of child discipline.
I suspect that some people who approve of spanking chose Neutral on this question due to the fact that some children do fine without spankings. Some children (not the majority) exhibit generally good behavior by nature, and need little and light discipline.
Question 13: “All forms of physical discipline, including spanking, are abuse.”
This question was designed to help me determine which respondents have extreme ideological views. Those who hold to the idea that all spanking is abuse put 80% of the world in the category of an abuser. This is quite extreme. Only two respondents Strongly Agreed with this statement. Three Agreed with this statement, nine were neutral, and rest either Disagreed or Strongly disagreed.
I think we can draw some very solid conclusions from this survey. Namely that there are many people who were spanked as children, glad for it, and spank their own children. They don’t see it as abuse and even thankful for physical discipline they received. The vast majority of those who were spanked have wonderful relationships with their parents as adults. Those who spanked their kids and now have adult kids, the vast majority have great relationships with their adult children.
The bottom line is this: proper, moderate spanking is not abuse. It is a important part of child discipline that holds in view both the well-being of the child and the household.
Below are some responses from the comment section of the survey that I deemed helpful:
As we have removed paddling in school and in the home, respect for elders and those in authority has greatly diminished as a result. Thus, we see dramatic increase in criminal activity, drug and alcohol abuse, and overall disrespect of authority. Case in point, just about every school, especially High Schools have police officers in the schools. That was unheard of 42 years ago when I was in high school.
I thank the good Lord everyday for my parent’s disciplining me, there is no telling where I would be without it. Just look around at how out of control children are this day and time.
Our children need discipline. There is a right and a wrong way to do this. Spanking on the bottom with a spoon, paddle, belt, smacking the hand, etc…are what I believe to be correct ways to physically discipline. Sentences, corner time, push ups, grounding from privileges are other good forms of discipline. This has worked for generations-I think we should be able to see that not correcting our children isn’t working – it’s like letting the tail wag the dog. If there’s no correction for disobeying, why have rules and guidelines to begin with? Children need this for good moral upbringing.
Spanking is Biblical and therefore has blessed results. Spanking can be abusive if done in anger and without guidance.
The discipline should fit the child and the sin. Spanking is appropriate for some children, but not all, and must be done without anger or malice.
There is a difference between spanking a child, and beating them. My mother always said that her hands were for love, but her wooden spoon was for “reality checks”. She never left bruises or hit me in the face. However, I believe it also takes more than a “spank” to discipline. You HAVE to do what you say you’re going to do. Promised a spank? Spank. Promised the corner? Corner. Promised that they won’t go to that party if they don’t change that attitude? Follow up on the grounding. There has to be a healthy balance. Otherwise, your child will lose respect for you, and other adults. This effects their adult relationships, too, as they think they can get away with everything and become overly entitled.
This is a controversial topic because so many times children are spanked as a way of ‘venting’ a parents frustrations THIS is NOT correct use of physical discipline. Correctly applied, in a loving relationship, corporal punishment actual creates much less of a need for it.