Do you believe in spanking? That is a question that has been under controversy for many years. Many people believe that there are just some behaviors that cannot be corrected without a spanking. In fact, many of us ‘grown’ folks will say, “My parents spanked me and I turned out fine.” On the other hand you have many child development experts who suggest that children who are spanked are, a) taught that violence is acceptable; b) deliberately causing a child pain is cruel; c) it harms the child emotionally; d) makes a child feel powerless; e) breaks the feeling of trust and security a child may have with adults; f) not an effective means of communication; and g) it does not work.
To give you an idea of the controversy that surrounds this topic, there was a poll taken on Debate.org. The question was, “Is spanking wrong?” Based on the many individuals’ comments, 43% believed that it is wrong and 57% believed it is not wrong; almost a 50/50 split.
When one begins to research the origins of spanking they will find that determining the correct time or place is very difficult. There are just too many cultures and times to consider. Regardless of when and where the act began, we can all agree that it is a punishment that is considered all over the globe, and across all walks of life. Some consider it corporal punishment, a form of abuse while others simply call it much needed discipline. Sadly, spanking has become a major problem in the lives of many; particularly low income families residing in certain communities. For a great number of these families spanking has been redefined by the judicial system as corporal punishment with no ifs and or buts about it; thus, causing them to lose their children to the ‘system’.
Let me make my position clear…..I am not judging anyone who spanks or who does not spank. In fact, I am one of those ‘grown’ folks who say, “I was spanked and I turned out fine.” And, I too spanked my children from time to time. However, I must stress that I have a different outlook on things today; I have taken the time to re-educate myself and therefore would like to re-educate others. I believe this is especially important because spanking has been redefined, therefore putting our young people in the position of having their children removed from their care.
During some of my ‘personal growth’ studies I have learned that spanking, or corporal punishment as it is often called, is most common in the African American family. Researchers have suggested that the reason for this is that it is a legacy that has been left by the brutality of slavery; they add that parents in lower income communities have less education; and they say that this group is more likely to follow the religious belief, “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Further, it has been determined that in many cities throughout the U.S. African American children are more likely to be removed from the home and placed in foster care.
With the previously stated in mind, I see a major issue here; particularly being one who is gung-ho about family preservation. African American families are more likely to use “corporal punishment” as a means of discipline, and they are more likely to have their children placed in foster care; do you see the problem? If not, let me help you….
We are currently working with a young man whose son (age 4) has been placed in foster care (now in the care of his mother) after spanking him for behaving inappropriately with a little girl. The young man does not spank his son, but instead he usually puts him in time out in a room alone. When asked why he spanked his son on this particular day he said, “Because he was being nasty with his step sister and I wanted to make sure that he wouldn’t do that again. I was spanked and I learned so I don’t see anything wrong with me spanking him so he will learn.” Many (not all) will agree with this thinking, “Spanking the little boy was okay because he was acting inappropriately and with all that is going on with kids today his dad had to do what he had to do to make sure the child understood that this behavior was not to ever happen again.” Right??? Well, the Department of Children and Families believed differently. They were introduced to this young man and his son because of his communication with someone already involved with the system, wrong place wrong time I guess. Nonetheless, his son was taken away from him based on the one spanking and the 4 year old child’s responses during questioning.
After having his son from birth, with little to no help from the mom and absolutely no other incident this young man spanks his son (once) and loses custody of him in less than a month’s time. Not only has he lost custody, but the child is now in the care of his mother (remember, she provided little to no help over the child’s 4 years on this earth); and he is jumping through hoops just to get regular visitation. See anything wrong now??? I would hope so….because I see so many things wrong with this situation! How can we expect a parent to care for their child in a way that is contrary to how they were cared for, unless of course they have been re-educated?
The point of this post is this, WE MUST RE-EDUCATE OURSELVES AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN OUR COMMUNITIES ON HOW TO BETTER CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER, PARTICULARLY OUR CHILDREN!
Although there is a larger number of African American youth to consider, this is an issue throughout all groups and communities. Due to the ‘new’ definition of spanking (corporal punishment) it does not matter what one believes to be true, spanking is not a good form of discipline. Contrary to what parents who use this form of discipline believe, there are absolutely other alternatives….and depending on the personality of your child, you are sure to find one or two, or three of those alternatives that do work!
So, in re-educating yourself and others consider the alternatives listed here before raising you hand, shoe or belt to your child; and/or share this information with someone you know who may be having a difficult time with their child/ren.
Please remember that spanking, as acceptable as it may have been or may still be in your household is very risky. You (or someone you know) can easily find yourself (or themselves) in a battle with the state over what is in the best interest of your (or their child), and you (or they) can LOSE!
Re-education….TC’s new wave of making change!
Mrs. Tomaro Pilgrim, MS