I was spanked as a child, often. Without even putting much thought into it, I can recall being sent to my room in the afternoon, to “wait until my father got home”. Terrified and scared, I would wait until I heard those footsteps and my dad would come in and spank me for something that I’d almost forgotten what I’d done; hours ago. After the beating was over, everything was expected to just *return to normal as if nothing occurred* and I would come down for dinner.
My father was a product of a home that spanked. His mother was abused by his father and he had several older brothers who put a stop to it one day by going after their father. They said he was never to touch her again. Yet, somehow, using belts, paddles, your hand or whatever is handy to repeatedly hit your child, was somehow OK. To this day, it brings back very bad memories for me. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the time they didn’t abuse me at all, but I consider it to be abuse. For a while, I even spanked my own children, until I realized it did nothing.
This study, that analyzed DECADES of info representing approximately 160,000 children opened my eyes to the science of what is really going on with spanking. Having disciplined my son with Autism with spankings in early days, I now realize why they had no effect (and I just abandoned the practice; it was useless). They DON’T WORK. Advocates will go on about how their children were perfectly behaved as a result of spanking and I won’t even go into the whole religious aspect about it because, well, I don’t care to be honest.
In today’s society, you will read a lot of comments on social media any time that someone tries to defend their child or right a wrong. In some cases, it can be a bit much and even I will admit that the parent needs to foster independence in their child. When we read stories of disabled children being duct taped to their chair, there aren’t that many people going, “Well, that’ll solve all the problems right there” (although I’m sure there’s a few loose cannons out there that believe it, that’s not my point).
Why is it that hitting is just for children? Let’s just say that Bob in the next cubicle, just won’t stop talking about you and calling you names? How come heading over there and whacking Bob on the ass isn’t acceptable? Because it’s a CRIME called ASSAULT. Adults are expected to handle their issues with maturity and learn effective techniques to overcome interpersonal obstacles. Mediation, talking about the issue and finding workable solutions to move forward is the path most people take. However, if you spent your childhood being smacked around every time you did something wrong, what are you learning? You are learning that violence corrects improper behavior. Look up Pavlov’s Dog sometime, seriously, it REALLY explains it well.
I remember being spanked and just being angry and feeling hatred towards my parents. I didn’t feel loved and cared for, given loving discipline to guide me. I felt like my parents HIT ME and that I was a BAD person. There’s a strong theory rooted in sound science that negative reinforcement doesn’t work. Some traditions don’t die easily in society like misogyny, racism and other things that need to go away. It takes time for older generations to either (sad but just being honest here) die off and younger, more progressive thinkers to come into the mainstream and make society more tolerant. For example, our disgusting history of segregation in this country. Can you imagine enforcing race based eateries and other business establishments? Revolting and unthinkable. Yet, there are still some who remember when it was completely normal for those of African-American descent to stay in an eatery, drink from a fountain and attend schools that catered to them exclusively (and they should remember and never forget).
Abuse is called by many different names and it comes in a lot of forms. Most of my spousal abuse was verbal, but there was that 25% component that was physical. You don’t ever forget either by the way and no, you can’t just “put it in the past and move on”. Just like spanking. I’m sure my parents just did what they were either taught or learned to do for whatever reason. I never got the opportunity to discuss it with them to be honest but there are times when I wish I had. I’d love to know what they thought it would help.
My children are older now, my youngest almost a teen. I know that rewarding good behavior and ignoring bad isn’t the best technique around, but I know that going after my children and hitting them isn’t going to solve anything unless I want them to resent me. It sure isn’t going to improve anything and teach them how to handle conflict. When my husband used to hit me, spit at me, put me up against the wall with his hand around my neck (etc etc), it only taught me to hate him while my children either watched or cowered in fear. Spanking and spousal abuse may seem worlds away, but are they? I’d love to see a study done on the history of spanking and other discipline related to crimes, assault and spousal abuse in adulthood. Then again, that’s just a working theory for me.