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Tuesday, 7 August 2012

"Do you beat your kids?"

We get this question regularly, and always from other children. I'm not sure why it ever comes up, but we do take time to answer.

"No, we don't beat our children. But we have spanked them. And we believe that it is never to be done in anger, and only for certain things they do wrong, like when they outright disobey our instructions."

That usually satisfies the curiosity, but sometimes -- to our dismay -- we get follow up questions like, "How often do you beat them?" Groan.

As I've said before, it can be dangerous to either spank or not spank children. But many in the culture and media say otherwise, that spanking is ineffective at best, and can even cause mental illness.

For the most part, those who do spank think it's a good idea, and those who don't spank think it's a bad idea. Therefore, the debate is typically a process of butting (no pun intended) hard heads. Which is why this op-ed by Melina Moyer is a refreshingly balanced perspective.

She realized that despite the attention-grabbing headline, spanking does not cause mental illness. What did the research conclude? "That adults who have mental problems are more likely to say they were pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped, or hit by their parents than healthy adults are." Nothing to do with spanking at all, and no cause-effect relationship was inferred.

Additional research by so-called "conclusive" articles show that studies often lump spanking into the same category as slapping and kicking. And studies that show negative effects of spanking fail to factor in situations where parents have poor parenting skills in general.

In all, Moyer concludes that spanking may be effective in certain situations, while it can also be a "gateway" to further abusive behavior. And I totally agree with this. Spanking (and any form of treatment) done in anger and outside the context of loving conversation is very dangerous.

This conclusion is hardly such a definitive problem as many in the culture make it out to be.

**image courtesy of Rotorhead

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