Do you believe a “good whoopin'” counts as abuse or is just what it takes to raise good men?
There is a video making the rounds on social media — you may have seen it. In the backseat of a moving vehicle is a young boy having a tantrum, arms flailing, mouth wide, screaming, “Take me home.” The camera stays on him as he screams, lunges forward to try to take control of the steering wheel, pounds his feet against the back of the driver’s seat.
The caption reads “this is what happens when you make it illegal to smack your own kids.”
Let that reasoning soak in for a minute. You can’t smack your kids. This is what ensues.
I’ve known a lot of people who were not smacked as kids. Maybe you have, too. They weren’t smacked. They weren’t slapped. They weren’t spanked. And somehow, none of them (so far as I know) are, or ever have been, prone to this kind of behavior.
But let’s leave that reasoning aside.
It also isn’t illegal, in the United States anyway, to spank your kids. Sweden made it illegal in 1979, and in 2013 had to close four of their prisons and a remand center because they didn’t have anyone to put in them. Maybe not related, but worth thinking about.
Most of the comments I saw on the threads where it was shared as well as on the original post were mostly parents chiming in on what they would have done. The first few I saw went like this:
I don’t care! Beat his ass!!!
Illegal or not. If my child ever acted like that they would get their ass beat. There is a difference between disciplining your child & abuse. Thats whats wrong with half of the kids today.
If my child did this in public he/she would still get a whooping. I refuse to give birth to a child who thinks it’s ok to disrespect me and act this way.
I would’ve pulled over and whooped his behind real good. It is not illegal to spank your kids. Abusing them is illegal
And the parent who even looked forward to the opportunity to PROVE what she would do in such an instance.
Oh, idda pulled over and left him black and blue. I wish my kids would try some shit like this.
And then there were the ones like this:
90% of the time ass whoopings work…. everyone i know got they ass whooped & turned out just fine.. I don’t beat my daughter because she listens. But this kid needs his ass whooped he seems more spoiled than mentally disabled… i know kids just like him that do the exact same thing. They too are spoiled and act out when things aren’t going their way
Of course there were a lot more comments, most of them asserting that a good “whoopin'” is not only OK, but that their own history of being spanked is the reason they’re a good adult and parent today.
i wouldn’t have EVER dared to act like this as a child bc i probably wouldn’t be able to sit to this day, if i acted up or done wrong i got my ass beat and guess what… i turned out just fine, i grew up with a sense of respect, manners, and common sense in which no kids have these days bc everybody is such a pussy and afraid of offending somebody, when my daughter acts up she gets her ass whooped and you know how many issues i have with her? very few bc she knows better and respects me as being the parent and what i say goes
But whatever anecdotal observations and insults Facebook readers have to offer, clinical studies don’t agree.
An article in Psychology Today cites a Canadian study that looked at 20 years of published research to see what corporal punishment (which is the category “whoopin’s” fall into) does to the clinical brain. Ethics and legality aside, what they found REALLY happens when you don’t spank your kids is that they are more likely to arrive as adults with more of their grey mater intact.
According to the report, spanking may reduce the brain‘s grey matter, the connective tissue between brain cells. Grey matter is an integral part of the central nervous system and influences intelligence testing and learning abilities. It includes areas of the brain involved in sensory perception, speech, muscular control, emotions and memory.Additional research(link is external) supports the hypothesis that children and adolescents subjected to child abuse and neglect have less grey matter than children who have not been ill-treated. – Psychology Today “How Spanking Harms the Brain”
References to the original study on the site of the Canadian Medical Association Journal make it clear that it isn’t only what most people would consider “abuse” that destroys this grey matter, but even the mildest physical punishment. It also referenced the fact that boys are more likely than girls to receive corporal punishment.
The evidence is clear and compelling — physical punishment of children and youth plays no useful role in their upbringing and poses only risks to their development. The conclusion is equally compelling — parents should be strongly encouraged to develop alternative and positive approaches to discipline. – The Joint Statement on Physical Punishment of Children and Youth
So if spanking does more harm than good how are you supposed to just put up with their behavior? Because that seemed to be the tone of the comments — either the mother needed to stop the car and give the kid what he had coming or (a few suggested) stop and find out what was so disturbing the boy that he felt that tantrum was necessary. (Almost no one seemed to notice there was another adult in the car, the person who was holding the camera and laughing occasionally at the boy’s behavior.)
Which brings us to the question of what really is effective in raising kids to become “good” adults. It isn’t spanking, and it isn’t a lack of discipline. That is an artificial binary decision.
Yes, teaching discipline, especially self discipline, is essential to bringing out the best in our kids. Spanking, on the other hand, is not. And while other methods of teaching discipline take more time, more patience, and more emotional control on the part of the parent, they don’t destroy the very part of the brain required to learn to use good judgment and self control.
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Photo: Getty Images