On Topic: The Spanking Ban Debate

When it comes to rearing children, no debate is more contentious — or longer running — than the dispute over spanking.

Is spanking ever O.K? Should there be a ban? Is spanking child abuse?

Recently, i posted an note about spanking, hoping to start a discussion about the pros and cons of a spanking ban.

Not long after i posted the note, another admin posted another note and contacted me, as she and i have different views on the subject, and she was not at all comfortable with what i posted. Because of this, we have decided to approach things in a different way.

Our feautured topic this week will be The Spanking Ban, and more broadly, discipline.

  • We have briefly summarised our PERSONAL points of view below.
  • FOR a BAN? AGAINST a BANWe’d love to hear your views;how you dicipline your children in your home? Do you spank/not spank, and if so, what are your reasons? Do you come from a country where a ban has been introduced, and if so, how do you think it has impacted your community? Do you agree with a spanking ban? We welcome any stories and thought you have :)
  • Throughout the week we will post various articals related to the topic, hopefully 2 a day, one from each side of the argument.
  • We will also post a brief independent comparitive study of countries with the ban vs counties without, looking at abuse rates, crime rates, rates of reported crime, rates of children going into care and social/economic/other factors that may influence these figures, including but not limited to a spanking ban.
  • We will post tips ideas and advice on peaceful parenting.

We posted a POLL asking for YOUR VIEWS on this subject. PLEASE VOTE HERE.

We’ll post another at the end of the week to see if general opinion has remained the same, or changed.

Hopefully in doing so we will raise awareness of the issue and surrounding problems, clear up some of the myths, create a dialogue around the subject, and give you more information to empower you to be confident in your discipline/child guidance choices.

From my own personal point of view, i hope this exploratative journey  will help to clarify my own perspective on the ban.

 Ultimately, we hope to clarify a position for A.A.A that most accurately reflects the views of our members :)

Perspective 1

Colleen, UK,  mother, psychology graduate, childrens rights activist, worked with children with mental health problems and learning difficulties:

“I have very mixed feelings about the issue. I can  see the benefits and drawbacks of both ends of the argument, and i find it difficult to confidently support or rebunk campaigns for a spanking ban.

I am not pro-spanking. I have a beautiful 4 year old son, and i have spanked him on occasion. I don’t think it was effective, i think it confused him (and me!), he felt awful, i felt awful, and overall it was not a very positive experience for both of us. I look back on it now and i do regret it.

I’ve made a conscious decision not to use spanking. I have found time outs, talking and toy/treat confiscation to be much, much more effective, when used fairly and consistently.

It is not a method i wish to use, not is it one i would encourage other parents to use, because i feel the alternatives are far more effective and less dangerous when used incorrectly.

However, i am not pro-spanking ban either. This is because i believe, when used properly, spanking can be an effective dicip[line method and does not cause harm. I feel parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit, as long as it doesn’t cause harm. I was spanked as a child and i don’t feel it was harmful to me. Therefore, i don’t think the state has the right to legislate it, because i don’t feel correct spanking is harmful, and as such i don’t see it as abusive.

I think the variables that effect a child’s aggression, mental health and other factors as an adult are vast, varied and complicated. I fear it may be a massive error to over-simplify the issues and say that a relationship between spanking and these problems proves that spanking causes these problems. The research has not proved this, in fact the most extensive and methodologically sound studies allude to a much more complex relationship between parenting styles and negative effects in adulthood than to the assumption that spanking causes harm and dis-advantage in later life.

I choose not to spank my son because i think there are much better alternatives that i am happier with,  but i feel that is my choice and i don’t feel i have the right to impose my choice on others, assuming of course no harm, no injury,

I don’t advocate spanking, but i’m not sure if a ban is the answer.

I believe in the rights of a parent to decide what is best for their child, assuming no injury or harm.. I am not yet convinced that there isenough sound evidence to support the claim that spanking causes harm. I think before a law can be justified, more research needs to be done.

I do think the state has a responsibility to educate and support parents, so that they are empowered to and feel able to CHOOSE not to spank their children, because they know they do not need to, rather than being afraid of breaking the law.”

The Full Argument Against A Ban

Perspective 2:

Celine, France, mother, childrens rights activist, dedicated campaigner in support of a spanking ban:

“I have discovered Peter Connelly’s story in 2008, when England got aware of the scandal. At that time, I was already a mom, and honestly I could not imagine that such harm and torture could done to a child. Yes, I was living in a “wonderland” world where I thought that it was normal to spank a child when he deserved it, true, but that children were to be raised happily and with respect. What Peter experimented was not normal and was beyond what I could possibly imagine.

I started to read articles, books etc on education, abuse, I wanted to understand how it was possible for a mother to let such things happen. I wanted to understand that some people are just “not normal” and that Peter was just unlucky. To me, the majority of parents want the best for their children, and some people just don’t deserve to be parents. But I discovered that it is not that easy and simple.

All my researches led me to read a French book called “Yes, humankind nature is good. Ordinary educative violence has been perverting this good nature for centuries “(Olivier Maurel). In this book, the author explains how children have always been spanked, slapped, pinched, whipped etc in every culture, every country. All this saying that “it is good for them, that they will thank their parents later” etc.

I read Alice Miller’s work also, and new conception of children became clear to me : children integrity should be respected and protected in any condition,  physically hurting children is not educative, this a deviance that has been perpetrate over the years, and the vicious circle is so much in place that few people dare today say it is wrong.

Violence against women is now seen as wrong, no matter what the circumstances are. In the past centuries, it was ok for a master to whip their maids. In ship, sailors were frequently whipped and this was normal also. And to go back to women, we know that men (the one working, the one bringing money to the household) where allowed to “correct” their wives. There has been a long struggle to change mentalities, and it sound inconsiderate nowadays to hear a husband say “oh well, I just slap her when she deserves it, it doesn’t really hurt her, it is done on purpose”.

Ok, some people will say “yes, but we have the need to discipline and raise our children, not our wives.” The wordsAuthority, Discipline, Power are very well installed in a parent/children relation…But where is the place for Physical Integrity Respect, Moral Integrity Respect, Self Construction, Guidance?

We don’t question spanking as being educative or not, because we have been spanked ourselves. We have been spanked by people who loved us, cared for us, taught us life. Therefore we consider it as being normal. Worse, as being necessary at point moment or another in our education. It is impossible to imagine that, that day when you were 5 and you ran across the street not watching is a car was coming, our mom could have done something else than spanking you, for you to understand the message. Thank God she did, otherwise I would never have learned it was dangerous !

But…what if all is was wrong? What if all our education could have done without any harm, any spank? In 2012, in France at least, you will not find ANY educator, psychologist specialized in childhood, pediatricians etc who will say spank is a good thing. Some will defend authority on children, other will defend dialogue, but none of them still defend physical harm. Understand me well, when I mention physical harm I even mention the small smack on the hand…


I ban the word “discipline” to use the word “guide”…And this is all what it is about : do we trust our children and human nature to believe they don’t need discipline, authority, power, treats, punishment (toys away etc), blalckmail but that they need guidance, dialogue, to be listened to, do we trust in their ability to listen to us as well, can we use a no-power relationship (excluding the “parent-friend” type relation of course, but excluding the “authoritary parent” relation as well)

In other words, was Freud right to believe that at the age of two, the child becomes a manipulator, a pervert, does he really want to kill his dad and marry his mom? Or was all his theory done for him to live well with the knowledge that his own father was a child abuser?

What is the place of a child in nowadays society? Are we right to exclude them from the Human Rights charter?

The full argument for a ban

One comment

  1. How on earth any parent can spank is beyond me. I have 3 girls, and I cringe every time their mother (divorced) has a row with them – of course she does not spank them either.I think spanking is illegal in some European countries, and of course it is straight forward abuse.

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