Spanking

This essay has a total of 2266 words and 10 pages.


Spanking






Ronda C. Dunn
November 21, 2001
Comm 3037
Argument Paper

Spanking is Not the Answer

Suppose you are in line at McDonald’s and the person in front of you places an order with
the cashier. It has been a long day for the cashier and due to lack of experience, he
makes an error on the order. Suppose the person in front of you, whose order was not
followed as desired, reaches over the counter and strikes the cashier. What would be the
reaction of surrounding bystanders? Most likely there would be gasps, an air of shock and
possibly a panic. Someone may move in to restrain the assailant or comfort the victim. The
police would quickly be called, and the assailant would be arrested for assault and
battery. The entire mood of the restaurant would be one of panic.

However, what would be the reaction if the same act of violence were committed against a
child? Suppose that the person in front of you is being yanked on by her excited son, who
begs for a Happy Meal despite her firm declines. The child has had a long day of following
orders, and is quite inexperienced at life. The child throws a tantrum in frustration.
Suddenly, his mother reaches over and strikes him. Would the bystanders witnessing this
act of violence react the same way as they reacted to the striking of the cashier? Most
likely not. The majority of the witnesses would watch passively, perhaps even smiling on
what they consider to be “good discipline”. The mother would not be restrained, and the
victim would certainly not be comforted. The time spent at the restaurant would go by as
if an act of violence never occurred.

In all 50 of the United States, it is a crime to hit a spouse or an employee. It is also a
crime to hit servants, military trainees, and patients in psychiatric hospitals, elderly
in convalescent homes, prisoners, any other fellow adult citizens and even pets. However,
not one of these 50 states has a law stating that it is a crime to hit one’s own children.
In fact, almost half of our 50 states still allow the use of corporal punishment by
authorities in schools and in childcare programs. According to child abuse laws, it is
acceptable to hit one’s child as long as it doesn’t leave a wound or a bruise. The word
“spanking” conveniently disguises the violence in the word “hitting”. (Hyman 17)

However, regardless of intent, spanking a child is an act of violence. By hitting, parents
are actually teaching children to engage in violence. Being hit teaches children that
violence is an acceptable means to solve a problem. It teaches children that it is
permissible to use physical force as a last resort to getting their way. Hitting also
teaches children that it is acceptable to use physical force to control those weaker than
themselves. (Straus 216) Society is increasingly more concerned about escalating violence
and increased drug use among young people. Organizations spend millions of dollars on
so-called intervention and prevention programs and campaigns, at loss for why these
attempts can’t put a dent in the problem. The essential ingredient that all these attempts
lack, is an intolerance of violence against children. Instead of attacking the roots of
social problems, society’s campaigns focus on the symptoms. This sways responsibility for
the symptoms away from adults and places the blame on young people. According to the
research compiled in his book, Beating The Devil Out of Them, (1994), Dr. Murray Straus
not only shows that corporal punishment teaches children that violence is acceptable, but
that it also carries with it a host of detrimental physical, psychological and social
health risks.

The physical abuse of a child usually starts out as “just” a spanking. Spanking,
especially when administered to a child out of anger, can easily escalate into legal
definitions of physical abuse. Straus (1994) reports that parents who approved of corporal
punishment had a much higher rate of going beyond that and severely assaulting their
children than did parents who did not approve of corporal punishment. It is not uncommon
for an adult to lose control while administering corporal punishment.

It is not coincidental that the most common mental health problems, depressive disorders,
are strongly correlated to corporal punishment, the child rearing practice still employed
by a majority of society. Depression often is a delayed response to the suppression of
childhood anger... from being physically hit and hurt... by adults... whom the child loves
and on whom he or she depends for nurturance and life itself. The National Family Violence
surveys conducted by Straus (1994) and his team conclude that the more incidents of
corporal punishment that a child endured, the greater the risk was for developing
depressive disorders as an adult.

Self-esteem is the driving force behind our motivations, our actions, our view of
ourselves and of others, and of how we view life and its experiences. Self-esteem shapes
the person we become and the attitudes that we hold. A lack of self-esteem can be severely
detrimental to the reaching of one’s full potential. A lack of self-esteem can lead to
depressive disorders and delinquency. Punishments and negative child rearing practices
are “permanently damaging to the child’s long term self-esteem. Corporal punishment is
disrespectful of children, making them feel worthless and degraded. (Leman 238)

Suicides are the most prevalent among people suffering from mood disorders such as major
depression and dysthymia. Since corporal punishment is linked to depressive disorders,
there is a suicide risk for victims of corporal punishment. Straus’ studies show that the
more corporal punishment that a child experienced, the greater the risk for suicidal
thoughts

I have already discussed how the use of hitting to control children can lead them to view
violence as acceptable. However, being hit by a loved one also causes rage and anger in a
child, anger that is often not allowed appropriate expression. The suppressed anger caused
by being hit will often find expression in the form of delinquency. This played a major
role in shaping famous pathological characters such as Adolf Hitler to become the severely
violent and apathetic people that they were. (Hyman 163) Likewise, regarding substance
use by young people, society refuses to see what function addiction actually has in (young
people’s) lives and how they are unconsciously using it to communicate something to the
outside world. Young addicts are often trying to communicate that they are hurting inside
from the degrading practices that their caretakers employ. Substance use helps to suppress
their pain.

Children who have been spanked run the risk of equating sexual arousal with physical pain.
(Straus 121-126) Taking this argument a step further, Straus’s research shows that
sadomasochistic sexual tendencies arise out of associating love with pain. Sigmund Freud
saw masochism as “a need for punishment at the hands of a parental power”. (Freud 1961)
Richard Zacks, author of An Underground Education, exposes the booming sado-masochistic
subculture in Victorian England complete with flagellant brothels that arose as a result
of the prevalence of corporal punishment in schools and by caretakers. Adults would
frequent these flagellant brothels in order to have scenes from their childhood
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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