I’ve dealt with a great deal of pro-spankers and EVERY time they emphatically insist that spanking is not hitting, and that, if done “correctly,” it is not abuse.
There are so many holes in these two arguments! First, spanking IS hitting! Let’s look at the definitions of “spank” and “hit”:
1. Verb: “to strike (a person, usually a child) with the open hand, a slipper, etc., especially on the buttocks, as in punishment.”
2. Noun: “a blow given in spanking; a smart or resounding slap” (www.dictionary.com).
1. Verb: “to deal a blow or stroke to.”
2. Verb: “to come into violent contact with” (www.dictionary.com).
“Abuse is defined as any thing that is harmful, injurious, or offensive. Abuse also includes excessive and wrongful misuse of anything” (Gulli & Nasser, 2002, http://www.ask.com/health/galecontent/abuse).
As we can clearly see, these three definitions are pretty similar. Because spanking and hitting is always intended to inflict pain on a child, it is covered under the definition of abuse. Pain means harm is being done to the body. The body uses pain to alert us that injury is either taking place or is about to take place.
There are many euphemisms used when speaking about corporal punishment, such as spank, whack, beat, whip, tap, smack, swat, paddle, physical discipline, correction, and slap. The need for euphemisms indicates a certain amount of denial within our society regarding the harm of inflicting physical pain on smaller human beings.
Hitting is never used to describe corporal punishment among those that support and practice it. The reality is that no matter how we try to make it sound nicer, we cannot spank without hitting the child with either an open hand or an object. It physically is the exact same action.
Second, every spank/hit causes physical and emotional pain even if it’s done “lovingly.” Love does not mitigate the emotional, psychological, or spiritual harm of physical punishment. In fact, it makes it worse!
“Many people believe that if a mother spanks her child, but is generally warm and affectionate toward her child, the spanking will not be harmful. The fact is, science does not support this cultural belief. We have known for some time that spanking is strongly linked to increased aggression in young children. Recent research in a study of over 3,000 children now shows that the warmth of the mother does not prevent the negative effects of spanking. This means children who are spanked are at much greater risk for being more aggressive – period. A mother’s warmth does not decrease the risk. Wow! How can that be?
It is important to understand what causes the increase in aggression. One obvious reason is, violence is being modeled and children are incredible mimics. Even more importantly, spanking interferes with proper development of the brain’s regulatory equipment, which develops in the first five years of life” (Peters, 2013, http://stopspanking.org/2013/06/25/maternal-warmth-doesnt-make-spanking-less-harmful/).
The fact is, being hurt by the people who are supposed to protect and love you is extremely traumatizing. Therefore, even if it’s done “correctly,” (I’ll never understand how one can “correctly” inflict pain on a child!) it still harms children emotionally. This fits the definition of abuse.
Also, I read a disturbing blog from a Christian pro-spanker about how she spanks/hits her infants and toddlers with paint brush sticks and will use a belt to spank/hit them when they’re older. She had her husband spank/hit her with a belt to see how it felt and said it wasn’t that painful. Many Christian pro-spanking advocates recommend parents “flick” themselves before spanking/hitting their children to make sure they don’t hit too hard. Yet, they say that the spanking must be painful in order to be “effective.”
I want to remind everyone that children’s bodies are usually much more sensitive and vulnerable than ours. What may not hurt YOU, will HURT the child. Not to mention the emotional and spiritual pain being inflicted on them by those who are suppose to love and protect them. Plus, we all have different tolerances for pain. What would hurt my husband a little would hurt me A LOT! Don’t use your pain tolerance to justify spanking/hitting your children.
Also, this news story shows children can be killed through being physically punished. Here are more horrific stories of children dying from being “lovingly” and calmly spanked/hit. What if the child has a high tolerance for pain? What if their wills don’t break? That’s when we see these deaths. Repeat spankings cause tissue to break down which can eventually enter the bloodstream and kill the child.
One last thing to consider is children with dark skin have to endure much more pain before bruises, welts, and abrasions are visible. This is not fair!
Yes, all spanking is hitting! And spanking is abuse! Period! If we can’t spank/hit adults or animals, why should we be able to spank/hit children? They are humans too!
Instead of spanking/hitting children, please use true discipline. That IS Biblical! Spanking/hitting is NOT Biblical whatsoever!
Gulli & Nasser. (2002). Abuse. http://www.ask.com/health/galecontent/abuse.
Greven, P. (1992). Spare the Child. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
Peters, R. (2013). Maternal Warmth Doesn’t Make Spanking Less Harmful. http://stopspanking.org/2013/06/25/maternal-warmth-doesnt-make-spanking-less-harmful/.