Time magazine had a recent article about spanking as a form of punishment for children. The article leads off with a story about Taylor Santos, a 15-year old high school student who evidently was letting a friend copy her homework. Her punishment? She was spanked…hard to enough blister…by a 15-year old, MALE vice-principal.
The Time article notes that 19 states allow teachers to spank kids. Obviously, the Taylor Santos story is a bit weirder in that it was a male who spanked her, violating the school policy. But really…do we REALLY want teachers spanking kids? Or…why the HELL do we spank kids at all?
Just from an emotional side…I think spanking is NOT about the kid, it’s about the adult doing the spanking. Spanking to me is something that adults do to make THEMSELVES feel better. Spanking to me is something adults do to relieve their OWN frustration over misbehavior.
From the scientist side of myself…you also have to just look at the evidence. Study after study show that spanking is NOT beneficial, it does NOT curb negative behavior, but instead, it spurs behavioral problems in kids and increases their aggression.
Despite the evidence, despite the extremely negative impression of spanking in many other countries…the Time article notes that 71% of adults in America approve of spanking as a disciplinary tool. That’s down from 94% in the 1960s, but still very high, considering that the practice is simply banned in many countries. What I found absolutely stunning about the article though is that nearly 1 in 4 adults think it’s OK for TEACHERS to spank their children. Really? You REALLY want to authorize other adults to discipline your children by administering physical pain???!?!?
It’s disgusting to me that parents or other adults feel that administering pain or any other physical stress is an acceptable form of punishment. However, I can already anticipate some responses from the “old-school” folks out there. Perhaps “Old-school” isn’t the right term. Studies have shown that in terms of overall demographics, the differences are often pretty marginal in terms of who approves of spanking. Men are slightly more likely to approve, as are blacks, poorer people, and blue-collar workers. But the differences between demographic groups really are quite small. However, I can easily imagine certain personalities that are more likely to approve. I can easily imagine responses I’d get to this post, from certain types of people I know.
I do find it interesting that Americans collectively seem to have this sense of superiority over other cultures. I find it interesting because there’s little doubt that other cultures look down their noses at American attitudes towards issues such as spanking…capital punishment…violence and gun control…etc. Given the laws in other nations, and given that Americans are MUCH more likely to be spanked, executed, shot, or murdered, I’m sure that many cultures view Americans as modern barbarians.
I must say…there are many times I agree with those views.