Modern parents have a huge conundrum on their hands when it comes to discipline. While it is likely that most parents today were spanked as children, it has gone out of vogue.
In some cases, spanking can be construed as abuse. While watching unruly children run around will motivate any good parent, there does not seem to be a good consensus on the best way to direct a child’s behavior. Is it still okay to spank? What are the pros and cons?
In most states, spanking is still legal. However, the codes are vaguely written. Most statutes indicate that “appropriate physical force” can be used to control a child’s behavior. In many states, there is an added clause that indicates that this physical force not cause long-term adverse effects on the child. While this can mean that spanking is okay, it also leaves the issue open for interpretation by a judge if a parent ever ends up in front of a court. To be safe, it is best to avoid the situation altogether.
Psychological Effects on Children
Parenting professionals do not consider spanking to be the most effective form of discipline. However, most parents still spank at least occasionally. Studies performed by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health indicate that more than a third of the children in the almost 2,000 studied were spanked at least several times a week. Out of those children who were spanked, those who were under the age of two showed negative behavior issues that could be associated with regular spanking. Surprisingly, Caucasian children are more likely to react negatively to spanking as a punishment, while Hispanic and African-American children had less adverse effects.
Spanking is likely to continue to be a controversial issue. The study indicates that it probably should be avoided. Choosing other forms of discipline, especially if administered consistently, is likely to be more effective, with less potential to harm your child.