Archive for Saturday, September 1, 2001

Good answer

September 1, 2001


To the editor:

In the Aug. 26 Sunday edition of the Journal-World, the "On the Street," question for the day was, "Is spanking an appropriate form of punishing a child?" Each of the four respondents answered that, "there are better ways to show parent disapproval," that they "don't believe in violence," that "there are better ways of disciplining your children," and that "it's absolutely horrible."

I was gratified to see that in this opinion poll individuals from a wide range of backgrounds unanimously agreed that children should never be spanked by their parents. I want to take this opportunity to emphasize this position against spanking children.

What research tells us about the practice of spanking is that it can destroy parent-children relationships. The parent becomes a disciplinarian to be feared and avoided rather than a loving parent whom the child can trust and come to when problems do arise. Furthermore, spanking teaches children that hitting another person is a legitimate way to get someone to do something that you want them to do.

Spanking also teaches children to get angry at their parents in response to their requests for compliance. Contrary to the opinion of some, angry responses from parents elicit more angry responses from children. Finally, spanking teaches children nothing about what you want them to start doing. It is only a way of showing your disapproval as a parent. Some parents will report a personal sense of relief when they spank their children but this angry release should not be confused with teaching your child what you want them to do.

Children need a positive relationship with their parents. That is the foundation for all parenting. Children need to be taught what you want them to do. They need positive recognition when they do what is expected. Parents need to remember that they teach by example and should examine how their own behaviors are affecting their children's behavior. Teach, model and reward good behaviors and those same behaviors will often follow. Verbal abuse and physical abuse are never the right ways for adults to manage the behavior of children, or other adults for that matter. I was heartened to see that it would appear from your poll respondents that this view is spreading.

Robert G. Harrington,


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