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Cervantes: Is spanking spiteful?

BY CHRISTOPHER CERVANTES | SEPTEMBER 19, 2014 5:00 AM

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My mother loves to tell me about how strict her father, Gary Mayberry, was. I heard stories that I found both shocking and amusing, like when my Aunt Debi didn’t want to get out of bed and he put the family pet scorpion in her comforter so she’d “get a move on.” I could probably write a book on Grandpa Gary’s exploits, but each one would tell you the same thing about him: no nonsense. So when my mom and aunts were misbehaving, he would touch his belt, and they’d cease and disperse that very second. They knew that if they didn’t, they’d get spanked with that same belt.

Spanking and other types of other corporal punishments have been a matter of controversy ever since the term “cruel and unusual punishment” decided to grace the legal palette. With the news of Adrian Peterson and the charges of child abuse fresh off the press, the topic has once again risen to the conversational levels of everyday life and whether or not there is a moral ground for it to stand on.

I think it’s safe to say that no responsible parents like to or want to hurt their children. We as a public are morally outraged when the thought of an innocent being harmed even crosses our mind. That is why cases in the likes of Susan Smith and Casey Anthony are found especially atrocious.
So why is it, if hurting a child is the biggest taboo in our society, that spanking and corporal punishment have such tenacious supporters?

The arguments: It provides consequences, it teaches the child right and wrong, and it establishes the authority of the parent.

These arguments all make sense, but surely there is a better way to go about this. Any type of punishment will establish authority and set consequences, so why does it have to be spanking?

Personally, I would have extra chores (especially changing the litter box) to be a much worse punishment. And best of all, I wouldn’t be physically harmed.

Despite what I’ve said, I don’t think there is a right answer on whether the spanking of one’s child is ethical. I am not a parent, so I can’t fully appreciate the disciplinary aspects. What I can express is that excessive force is unacceptable.

Should parents physically discipline their children? Maybe.

Should children be disciplined to the point of being bloody? Absolutely not.

The only other certainty is the fact that the answer to this question will not be decided anytime soon. 


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