Imagine: You’re at work. You’re scrolling through Facebook or playing Candy Crush instead of paying attention to your conference call – your boss comes into your office, tells you, quite angrily, that you are in trouble, and starts to hit you with a branch from a tree.
This sounds absolutely insane because you know that this would never happen, and if it did, that you could sue your boss to smithereens for a charge called “assault”.
At this point, I’m going to assume most have heard about the Adrian Peterson spanking case.
He was briefly jailed for “spanking” his son until he bled, leaving scars – and yet many still think that this is an okay practice if “done correctly.”
Why is it that, so many people, when confronted that something within their worldview is unhealthy, uncouth, and unfit in this modern world, shut down and begin a long line of excuses and defenses?
Why on earth would anyone condone the beating of anyone, especially a child, for any reason?
Allow me to break down all of the reasons spanking is wrong and should be called and thought of as assault.
Legally: When someone hits another person, it is assault. Whether I’m at a bar and I have a disagreement with a stranger, or if I am home and have a disagreement with my husband, or if I beat my neighbor’s kid, me hitting and/or beating them because I do not like what they said or did is assault, and is poor self-control on my part. These assaults are also illegal, and I could be charged with a crime.
The fact that it is legal in any capacity to hit your children when you are mad at them harkens back to master/slave relations. Slave owners could legally beat their slaves (whether this meant with a belt, their hands, or whatever else they saw fit) because slaves were not seen as people under the law. They were seen as property and had no rights. Do we really want to relate our children to slaves? This black woman sure as hell doesn’t.
Philosophically: “I was beat/spanked/paddled and I turned out fine! See?” I would argue that you did not turn out fine, you turned into someone who thinks it is okay to hit a defenseless child when they do something wrong because you have power over someone smaller than you.
Not to mention, what does this actually teach kids? It teaches kids that they can and should physically hit others when others do something that they don’t like. I’ve taken care of children since I was 14, and I have seen parents hit their kids for hitting their sibling or a peer – in what world does that make sense?
Spiritually: And of course, we have those that
blame cite Jesus. “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” they say, “It’s in the bible!”
1) This phrase is not in the bible, it is from a poem by Samuel Butler, who spent many-a-poem satirizing religious extremism. So not only are these people misattributing a quote to a book so holy that they clearly haven’t bothered to read it, they are also citing something wholly ironic that mocks the action they are using these words to justify.
2) There are around five or so verses in the bible about using rods with children, many more comparing children (and even other Christians) to sheep. For those who don’t know, the rods are used by shepherds to help lead the sheep, not to beat the sheep.
In the words of my homeboy Son of Baldwin, these verses that are advising parents to use rods with their children were “about you, as the adult, being the ruler against which the child is measured, NOT about you picking up an ACTUAL rod to strike the child with. LEARN WHAT A METAPHOR IS.”
Scientifically: There are studies upon studies with stats and findings, virtually ALL of which say that hitting a child is psychologically damaging to the child. There is indeed a stronger correlation of the adverse effects the more severe the hitting is, but it is essentially always damaging. How could you do this knowing it will most likely damage your child? The numbers and the studies say it all. I have to believe that people would prefer to hit their kids because it’s easier than taking the time (for yourself, especially) to find a calm and reasonable solution.
Realistically: Parenting is hard. Children are their own people, which means there will be minutes and hours and days that you hate what they’re doing, how they’re behaving, and wish with all your might you could make them
go away stop. I have babysat and lived with a family as a nanny. I get it. It’s exhausting. But in all honesty, I do not trust ANYONE to not take it too far, even if its only once – it is easy to lose control, and allow discipline to slide into punishment, to allow yourself to hit your kids because they are irritating you, not because they are actually doing something wrong. I do not think we should leave this line to the parents’ discretion to get blurred.
Essentially, people continue to endorse and defend “spanking” because it was done to them, because they themselves do it, because they don’t think its that bad, because in their worldview, it is NORMAL, therefore it is OKAY. People use all sorts of reasons to rationalize why this assault and abuse is okay. But it isn’t.
It’s assault because it is physical violence. It’s abuse because it is done by someone who should be loving and caring for the one they’re hurting.
And its wrong, no matter how much you want to believe that it isn’t.