Spanking ban

As long as I can remember, at least since the late 1990s, I am a (moderate) opponent of corporal punishment of children. In the debate about prohibiting this kind of child discipline, both sides have made both good and bad arguments. My position is that corporal punishment is not necessary, but in general also not very harmful if done properly. Until I came along an interesting article on Science Daily: College students more likely to be law breakers if spanked as children.

A study by Murray Strauss shows that university students who have been spanked as kids, even if they were raised in loving families, have a greater inclination towards criminal behaviour. Though Strauss affirms that children need guidance and discipline, physical punishment are not the way to achieve this.

But since I like to be the devil’s advocate, I want to formulate a possible point of critique. Strauss suggests that spanking causes criminal behaviour, or at least reinforces such behaviour. However, could it be possible that spanking is not the cause but instead the effect? Generally children got punished for misbehaviour, and crime is a kind of misbehaviour but enshrined by public law. If a person has a general inclination to misbehaviour all his/her life, it wouldn’t be surprising if that person would be both punished as a child as well inclined to commit crimes as an adult.

If that assumption would be true, there would be a statistical relation between spanking as a child and criminal behaviour, but not a causal one. This because both variables are in fact caused by a third variable. Of course, this is a hypothetical alternative explanation, but nevertheless not one you could easily put away.

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13 thoughts on “Spanking ban”

  1. My childhood home had a big beautiful maple tree in the backyard. New little shoots would sprout up from the ground. These would usually just be pulled up and tossed. But some would remain. I remember mother taking a sprout and pulling off the small growth of new leaves. It then became a handy little switch about 3 feet long. I honestly don’t remember the sting of the maple whip. I think the sight of her deleafing it was enough to cure me of any wrong doing. πŸ™‚

    1. For me it was the sight of my dad reaching for his belt. I only ever got spanked once (for blowing up every electrical socket on 2 whole floors of our family house… Naughty!) but he threatened it, and that sight was enough πŸ™‚

      1. I would have to say that I really don’t think it is appropriate in any circumstance. I think it perhaps is a reaction to something else rather than a punishment or disciplinary action. Life can be very frustrating and raising children very difficult.
        But harsh words can be just as bad and damaging.
        I am not a grandmother yet and not sure I will ever be. But I can understand why some spoil their grandchildren……they probably feel guilty… lol

  2. I was spanked as a child…πŸ˜‚ I think despite all such research as you mention children have to be disciplined one way or another even just to show that the parents care. A spsnking and not a beating!

    1. I agree that children have to be disciplined some way when necessary, and the article I cited does not deny the need for such discipline. Only the question is whether spanking is necessary, or whether alternative punishments would suffice. And as you have seen, I have my own reservations towards the claim made by M. Strauss.

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