Just about every parent I know spanks their child. Statistics show that approximately 90% of American parents use spanking at least occasionally, if not regularly. Across the board, without a doubt, the single most common phrase I hear from spanking parents is “it’s NOT hitting, it’s discipline!” I suppose that is their way of justifying their actions in their mind because statistics and studies done over the past fifty years have proven time and again that spanking is not only harmful, it’s largely ineffective. But parents continue to use this method of behavior modification on a regular basis. And they turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the proof that it doesn’t work and it causes emotional damage to their child.
For arguments sake, let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of hitting.
The fourth listed synonym of “hit” is spank. The two words mean the exact same thing in the English language. When you spank your child, you are hitting them.
Let’s change up the scenario a bit. Suppose your elderly mother was in a nursing facility and it came to light that one of the workers was striking her when she didn’t do what the worker wanted her to do, or she was “misbehaving” in the eyes of the worker. You would be outraged! It is, in fact, illegal for this to happen. Why? Because it’s deemed abuse in our society. It’s called elder abuse and can get someone thrown in prison for doing it. The reason? Because the elderly person is defenseless, weaker and most of the time doesn’t have the mental capacity to understand why they are being hit. Your child is exactly the same. Some would argue that their child is brilliant and knows exactly why they are being hit. So do some adults who are victims of elder abuse. That argument doesn’t hold water.
It really doesn’t matter if the strikes are to a person’s head, legs, back, arms, face, or bottom. A hit is a hit and hitting is a form of abuse. That term is another reason that some parents abhor the word hit when referring to spanking their child. The word abuse conjures up images of beatings and bloodied results. That’s not always the case. Spitting on someone is abusing them yet causes no physical pain. We can’t go around smacking other people when they’ve done something that we don’t like, or not done something we expect them to do. If we did we would promptly be arrested for assault and have to answer charges for it. So, why do parents believe it is perfectly acceptable to hit their smaller, weaker, defenseless child? I will never understand that reasoning.
There are over 50 countries in the world that have outlawed spanking because it is viewed as abuse in their society. It is my hope that will happen more and more until violence in the home is no longer acceptable in any country. There are far better ways to teach your child right from wrong without hitting them. No matter how you want to define it to help yourself sleep better at night, spanking is hitting. Just call it what it is.