By now you've probably seen the terrible, awful video of the Texas Judge physically abusing his daughter (TRIGGER WARNING) who has cerebral palsy. I only watched about a minute of the video; it goes on for seven more minutes. I couldn't take another second. This is a clear-cut case of child abuse, in my opinion.
On the other hand, I've spanked my kids. Not all at once, and only a few times. I might spank them again, although I hope I don't have to. Let me define what I mean: an open hand, never an object, not more than once or twice, never a baby or toddler, not after the age of 6. Spanking a baby or toddler is a bad, bad idea and spanking an older child is both ineffective AND leads to teens that have issues. I once saw a man spank his 9 month old baby and, frankly, I never spoke to him again and I avoided his wife thereafter.
I do think that spanking is a tool in the discipline kit, and that separates me from many, many of you who view spanking as flat out abuse. Spanking isn't my first resort, or my second, third, fourth, or fifth, it is dead last. I will try everything else before I use spanking. I've also used spanking when the child's action was extremely dangerous (one child got a spank after ingesting prescription medication that occasioned our first call to Poison Control.)
I don't think every child needs to be spanked; there are plenty of kids for whom non-corporal disciplines are totally effective. I hope that's your kid. I hope it's my kids. But it seems that there is a short window when spanking IS effective and MAY be an appropriate response to halt truly egregious behavior that will not respond to any other method.
Why do I bring it up? Especially considering how I might get eviscerated for this admission?
We should be talking about this issue because studies show that more than 90% of American parents have spanked their children.
Does that mean that the vast majority of our children are being abused? I don't think it does. So let's get real about this: Can you spank a child and stop? Have you ever spanked in anger and regretted it? Do we frown on spanking simply because parents take it too far? Have you stopped using spanking because you didn't see a change of behavior? Are you afraid to admit publicly that you've spanked your child?