The Damage Spanking Can Do

Many people have different views on how a child should be disciplined. Some people prefer to use spanking, time outs and taking children's toys away. The question is whether children should be spanked or not? Spanking is unethical and do not teach children lessons of right and wrong. Spanking is child abuse, causes emotional trauma, and has a cycle of violence.

When a child is spanked this is child abuse. When you spank your children, they feel both physical and emotional pain. To understand why spanking is wrong, it is first important to understand what it is. Spanking is a form of corporal punishment which is the intentional infliction of pain on the body for purposes of punishment or controlling behavior. Child abuse occurs when “caretakers inflict physical injury by hitting, punching, beating, kicking, throwing, biting, burning or otherwise physically harming a child.” (Hyman, 1997) Caretakers are not only referred to as mom or dad. Caretakers can also include aunts, uncles, grandparents and foster parents. Many families in our society educate and parent children without spanking. “If we just didn't spank kids, abuse would be minimal and consider a shocking aberration of the public norms for treating children.” (Hyman, 1997)

Alcohol and drugs are tied to abuse. “Studies show that one in three cases of child abuse occurs when the abuser is drinking.” (Havelin, 2000) From the author's point of view, being 6 years old when her mother Debbie passed away, Lisa's father Rick didn't know how to cope. Shortly after Debbie's death, he turned to alcohol. In the middle of the night, there would be very load noises that would wake Lisa up. When Lisa's father was drunk, he would come home and wake up siblings Richard and Jason. Only this time, it wasn't a spanking on the butt for punishment. Instead it was hitting, punching, beating, kicking, and throwing objects. He was taking his anger and frustration out on the boys for the death of there mother Debbie. This was also Rick's way of discipline Rich and Jason from the frequent trouble they got there selves in. Since Rick turned to alcohol to help cope with the death of Debbie, he was drowning his sorrows.

Spanking causes emotional trauma on a child. A spanking that is done for punishment is actually doing more harm then good to a child. A recent study, involving hundreds of U.S. children, showed “the more a child was spanked the lower his or her IQ compared with others by 2.8 points.” (Bryer, 2009) Children who are spanked by caretakers have a traumatic experience. “This traumatic stresses affect the brain adversely. Trauma could cause kids to have more stressful responses in difficult situations, and so may not perform as well cognitively.” ( Caretakers who are using spanking as a means of discipline children, are not teaching the importance of right and wrong. Instead a slap on the butt or wrist is actually taking away “learning opportunities”. (Bryer, 2009) The only thing that a spanking will do for a child is to stop one behavior that the caretaker doesn't like.

Even relatively moderate spanking can be physically dangerous. “Blows to the lower end of the spinal column send shock waves along the length of the spine, and may injure the child.” (Jan Hunt, 2006) The lower back pain experienced among adults in our society many well have its origins in childhood punishment. “Some children have become paralyzed though nerve damage from spanking, and some have died after mild paddling's, due to undiagnosed medical complications.” (Jan Hunt, 2006)

Children who are spanked are motivated by fear. A few years after Debbie passed away, Rick remarried. Here is what discipline looked like in my family. Being spanked with wooden spoons: for not having my homework done correctly. Being spanked with a leather belt for talking during a church service.

What spanking did for me as a child was teach me fear of my caretakers. The spanking with the wooden spoon created a fear of failure. Knowing that if a poor grade was earned there would be another wood spoon broken on my butt. As a child in 3rd grade, Lisa didn't deserve to be betting with a wooden spoon. The only thing that came out of a spanking with a wooden spoon was the caretakers' anger and frustration of me being a kid and wanted to play.

While sitting in church with Debbie and Rick along with siblings, there was this moment of my childhood where we where laughing during a church service. Rick turned to all of us and said, “You're going to get it when you get home.” We knew exactly what that meant. Dad taking off his leather belt and repeatedly spanking us. The fact of the matter is, Rick didn't approve of our behavior and his anger and frustration came out on us with a beating. My brothers made me go first. At that time they where busy shoving books in there pants to help with the spanking impact. Jason started laughing during his spanking and ruined the whole thing for the boys. As a result Rick got even madder and spanked them twice as hard and longer. Was it so bad that we where laughing during church? How would a beating with a belt help discipline us from being a child and laughing? That day it created a fearful feeling, to fear my own dad. A spanking will change one's behavior, but also do emotional trauma to a child. After receiving such a powerful spanking, there was never any talking during a church service. In the end Rick got his way, we didn't talk during church. On the other hand he created a fearful environment for a child.

Caretakers who use spanking as discipline are teaching a cycle of violence. Violence today is every where we look. In music lyrics, video games, and even cartoons. Caretakers need to be setting a modeling behavior for children to follow. Since, modeling is such a powerful learning tool; children will model themselves after their caretakers and copy the actions of another such as a friend. When caretakers punish using spanking, they are “modeling and reinforcing negative behavior to their children.” (McDaniel, 2000) Children who are punished this way are more likely to grow up to treat their children the same way.

Children are always modeling adult's actions. When caretaker's choice to spank the lesson learned is to use an aggressive behavior to solve problems. Spanking teaches children to use bullying to get there way. The fact is that spanking fills a child with anger, resentment and, ultimately, the urge to retaliate.

Caretakers are not setting an example of behavior by spanking a child's butt. Instead caretakers are actually teaching children that it is ok to hit others. In every other aspect of society it is not proper or acceptable to hit someone. You can't hit employees if they screw up. You can't hit your boss if he or she makes you mad. It is not accept able to hit your spouse if you have an argument. Caretakers need to teach children discipline not though spanking, but instead to use our brains to figure out how to resolve the given situation. Hitting is a violent behavior that is learned. It is not accepted in any other sector of our society. Why should children be discipline in such a matter? The only thing children will learn is to become an aggressive child.

From the author's point of view, Jason is now a grown adult with children of his own. Just recently his son Julian decided to bight another child at school, because the child wouldn't get out of his way. When Jason disciplines Julian, he will use spanking, slaps upon the head, or pulling his ears. As a result Julian is modeling his father's foot steps. Julian has become the bully because he was victimized himself. According to David Elkind, “children who consistently try to control peers through verbal or physical aggression to relive there own feelings of inadequacy.” (PH.D P. S., 2002) In Julian's case he was, “unwilling to negotiate during play, unwilling to accept others' ideas, and target only those children who are perceived to be weaker in some way.” (PH.D P. S., 2002)

Children or adolescent who are disciplined with spanking have a greater chance of turning into spouse-abuser. Children will not stay small forever. They grew up and become adults. The behaviors that where taught during childhood though adolescent will carry on into adulthood. Since spanking was considered a normal behavior for a household, chances are it will carry on in relationships. “Boys who witness abuse or who are abused are often abusive in their relationships with girls and women.” (McDaniel, 2000) .

A perfect example of an abusive relationship would be to use my brother Rich. Rich had turn to drugs and alcohol at an early age to coup with the childhood abuse and trauma. His drink did carry on into adulthood. Since alcohol affects your mind, and thoughts, he never had control of himself. There was this one time when Rich and his girlfriend came home form the bar. They got into some type of argument. Rich was so angry and frustrated with her so he stared pulling her hair and pushing her around. He was so mad he even put a gun to her head and almost killed her. Rich is doing what is normal for him. Repeating the abused that was learned as a child. Since he was raised that abuse is an ok thing to do. Currently his girlfriend left him. She was the one that ended the violent cycle. However the cycle still can be carried on, though future girlfriends.

Rich used to be the helpless child who couldn't protect himself. Today he turns to alcohol to hide his emotional pain, and trauma that was experience as a child. When Rich is drunk he becomes this different person, and takes his anger and frustration out on other people. Often times he is in bar fights. The last bar fight he was in, he almost killed his best friend. He decided to use the back of the toilet bowl cover as a weapon. He wacked his best friend in the back of the head, causing him to black out. As in adult, this grown child, is now familiar with and fully understands the terror of being the helpless victim from their own childhood experience. The only way this cycle of violence is going to end, is if he gets the help he needs.

3. Detail for main idea 3- Spanking leads to criminal behavior. (

When choosing a way to discipline a child, spanking should never be an option. Spanking has many negative effects on a child and impacts into adulthood. The next time you want to use spanking as a form of discipline, think twice before you slap the butt or wrist of a child. When using spanking caretakers are using abuse, creating an emotional trauma experience, and teaching the child a form of violence.


Bryer, J. (2009, September 24). Children Who Get Spanked Have Lower IQS. Retrieved November 2, 2009, from

Havelin, K. (2000). Child Abuse "Why Do My Parents Hit Me?". Mankato: Capstone Press.

Hyman, I. A. (1997). The Case Against Spanking. In I. A. Hyman, The Case Against Spanking How to Discipline Your child Without Hitting (pp. 27, 36). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc.

Jan Hunt, M. (2006, October 01). Ten Reasons Not To Hit Your Kids. Retrieved November 04, 2009, from Some Reasons:

McDaniel, C. (2000). Children Surviving In A World Of Violence. Warminster: Mar-Co Products, inc.

PH.D, D. J. (2007, January 15). Spanking And Later Alcohol Abuse. Retrieved November 05, 2009, from Alcohol Problems and Solutions:

PH.D, P. S. (2002). Your Child: Bully or Victim? Skylight Press.

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