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The Spanking Issue: The Ethical Dilemma Of Corporal Punishment

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The Spanking Issue:

The Ethical Dilemma of Corporal Punishment

This issue of corporal punishment is a current issue that many people have on their minds. The issue strikes an emotional chord for many whom were or were not punished by spanking during their own childhoods. The issue generally focuses on the effect that spanking or other discipline methods will have on children. I will specifically be exploring the question: is it ever appropriate to spank a child? The cases for and against the spanking of young children are many and varied. But the main issue is the level of appropriateness that the act can reach.

The well being of the children of today is of the utmost importance to our society. The authority will be passed from the older generation to the younger generation unendingly. This transfer is a significant event in which the power of democracy is also transferred with the authority. Children's psychosocial development is influenced directly by the absence or inclusion of corporal punishment in the discipline measures exacted on a child. The issue is also important emotionally for many families. People want to raise children that will benefit other people and society. The issue of spanking divides people because it is such a widespread personal issue. Studies from the Center for Effective Discipline show that more than 300,000 children punished physically in a school setting during the 2002-2003 academic year. Furthermore, what serves to make the issue of the utmost importance is the possible psychological effects that the physical punishment may bring about in children and the abuses that could take place.

Most proponents of spanking have very clearly defined goals. Mr. Trumbull stated in an article for the support of spanking, "... while loving and effective discipline is quite definitely not harsh and abusive, neither is it weak and ineffectual. Indeed, disciplinary spanking can fall well within the boundaries of loving discipline and need not be labeled abusive violence." These supporters don't believe there is substantial damage caused to the children by spanking. Rather, they believe that the discipline is effective when undertaken in a loving way. This viewpoint is held by many supporters of spanking. Opponents of spanking from the medical field claim that a major issue is that parents are provided with a safe-haven for child abuse under the guise of spanking. (Scelfo, 2007) The potential to abuse authority is not a new concept. It is the extent of the damage that opponents of spanking are wary of. Studies show that children spanked under the age of two are more likely to exhibit significant behavioral problems upon entry of school at age six. (Education Journal, 2004) Disregard for the well-being of the child is what the medical community is correlating spanking to since studying the effects of the activity. However, general polls show that popular opinion is split on both sides of the issue with a trend towards the support of spanking. (Clayton, 2007) While there is no clear answer to the issue, a better understanding of the facts will help to clarify the problem and provide the opportunity for people to make an informed decision.

The issue of spanking is very subjective and difficult to universally define easily. I believe that most arguments regarding spanking come from a person's memories and reactions towards them. The definition of the term becomes ambiguous when one considers the varied meanings that the term can possess. The issue of spanking must not be regarded as either black or white, but rather as an area of behavior that needs to be carefully applied or avoided depending on the context in which it takes place. I don't think there is any problem with a quick strike to an area of the body that is not easily damaged but provides enough impact to stop a child's negative train of thought. More effective methods would include disciplinary words followed by spanking lightly and then a following reduction of the actual spanking with the use of the words as tools instead. This methodology could be expanded as the child develops to include the taking away of privileges or possessions to control the will of the child in a beneficial way. The main problem with spanking is that it may increase the child's belief that violence is a good way to solve problems and/or the spanking will instill the child with feelings of defiance and anger towards the administering person. (Duncan, 2007) I believe that effectual spanking would include proper education with love before and after the spanking for the purpose of clarifying the intent of the person who is spanking and the cooperation of the spanked child. The understanding of the context and reasoning of the parent is crucial for the child to grasp before an effective physical discipline session can be carried out.

Many people believe that "a quick swat" from them to their child sends a clear message and is effectual discipline when included with loving remarks and in consistent fashion. I believe this view is the best way to help us understand the question: "is it ever appropriate to spank a child?" I believe that the answer that most definitely does not solve this question is that disciplining a child with spanking is alright when nothing else will work, or when the parent has "had enough." This could lead to abuse and/or psychosocially damaging discipline sessions. The context is that all-important factor that defines whether the discipline is appropriate or

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