Life

Spanking Law Would Let Parents, Teachers Leave Mark

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A proposed spanking law in Kansas would make it legal for parents, teachers or caregivers to spank children hard enough to leave redness or bruising.

When I was a kid, times sure seemed different.

We had a brief, generic prayer in school just before lunch, we said the Pledge of Allegiance (which may or may not still happen these days) and spanking was a part of a teacher’s arsenal.

Students were rambunctious at times, in a “kids will be kids” sort of way, but for the most part, we were respectful.

There was one student in my first and second grade classes who seemed to get paddled once a week. I know that’s an exaggeration; it may have happened six or seven times or so. But the spectacle of it made it seem to happen more often than it did. We would all be congregated onto a large, oval woven rug and he would be escorted into the hallway. We’d hear three or four whacks, followed each time with him yelling like a yodeler.

The fact that he was still a cut-up and even needed the second spanking, much less the sixth, seventh, or however many there were in total, would lead some who disapprove of corporal punishment to an obvious conclusion: spanking was ineffective for that student.

What that rush to judgment fails to consider, of course, is that it was effective for the rest of us. Because of the consequences to that one student, the other 27 or so of us made sure we didn’t get paddled.

Fast-forward about twenty years. Spanking was no longer allowed in our schools. I was now out in the real world, working at a television station, and asked to visit my old middle school to speak at a career day event. I spoke before a collection of about seventy-five students who were disrespectful and inattentive. Teachers — those who actually bothered to try calling the students down — seemed powerless to get any of the misbehaving students to act the way they should have.

Before I ever reached the library, where the presentation happened, I walked the hallways and heard thirteen-year-olds using language we’d have never spoken out loud when we were 13. These kids had no idea how to behave.

No idea.

There are people who insist that spanking and beating are synonymous. I realize that, and I also realize that there’s no arguing with those people. They are set in their beliefs and there’s absolutely no reasoning with someone who doesn’t see a difference between discipline and abuse. I gave up on arguing that point years ago; if you don’t see the difference, it’s only because you don’t want to.

Spanking was a part of my parents’ repertoire. That is to say, I was spanked twice in my entire childhood. It wasn’t half a dozen times. It wasn’t a weekly thing. Spanking meant something serious had happened: I’d committed a major wrong. And from those two spankings, I learned never to commit those wrongs again. (And I certainly didn’t repeat the same wrongs.)

My parents never beat me a day in my life. Even on the two days I received a spanking. I’m allowed to say that, and on those two instances of spanking in America, I am the expert. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Kansas spanking law attempts to define reasonable rules.

Currently in Kansas, parents are allowed to spank their children as long as the spanking doesn’t leave a mark. A state Democrat introduced a bill that would add “up to 10 strikes of the hand that could leave redness and bruising.” Further, it would allow parents to give others permission to spank their children.

One child abuse expert quoted in a Fox News article predictably called spanking “antiquated” — which means absolutely nothing — and says it has been proven to be “less effective” than time-outs. Said expert has clearly been around different children than I have.

Then again, it ought to be obvious that what works for one child will not always work for all children. That’s such blatant common sense that I feel silly even typing it.

If there were a “one size fits all” for parenting, there’d have only been one parenting book ever written, and it’d still apply today just as much as it applied two hundred years ago. Spanking — or whatever would have been advocated back then — wouldn’t be labelled “antiquated” today just because someone doesn’t like it as an option. Antiquated or not, the threat of it works for some kids without turning them into wife beaters in adulthood.

I’ve never beaten anyone. I’ve never even been in a fistfight. And I’d actually prefer to keep that record intact, thank you very much. Does that sound “aggressive” to you?

There will be people who will abuse any law that is ever adopted. But shouldn’t parents be allowed to decide what kind of discipline is right for their own child at a given moment? Shouldn’t parents be the one to have a say in how others discipline their kids if the need should arrive?

That sounds like common sense to me, too.

Your Turn:

Were you ever spanked as a child, or did your parents ever have spanking as an option in their discipline plan for you? Do you feel that it made you aggressive or had any significant negative effects on you that went beyond any other types of discipline they used?

How do you feel about spanking, and why?

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.

2 Comments

  • I was beat with a wooden spoon for the smallest of infractions. And I say BEAT, not spanked, because my mom told us she used a spoon because it hurt her hand to spank us as hard as she wanted to — which is to say, she was more about causing pain than imparting a lesson. Conversely, she would have a conniption if anyone else so much as suggested laying a hand on us. But they wouldn’t need to; thanks to my mom’s regular beatings, we were very well behaved.  This also explains, however, why I have issues with authority to this day, but that’s a different topic altogether.

    Having said all this, I am against beating kids. Obviously. It scarred my psyche more than my butt. This doesn’t mean, though, that I am opposed to spankings. My nine-year-old hasn’t been spanked in years… because we spanked her butt when she was little and she learned right from wrong. And by “spank” I don’t mean out of anger, or with a weapon beyond my hand, and I certainly never left a mark. Now all I have to do is adopt “THAT” tone of voice, and start counting down from five. I seldom hit “three” before she gets her act together. 

    I don’t want anyone else physically disciplining my child. I take care of it and no one else should need to intercede. But lots of parents AREN’T disciplining their children at home, so I can see why some would advocate for teachers being allowed to do so. I don’t know what the answer is. It would involve people actually giving a crap about their own kids, and working to help them become decent, contributing members of society, and I have seen this interest dwindling over the years rather than growing. You can’t force anyone to CARE. If they already don’t, it’s kind of too late. And that’s where my depression about the human race begins. But again, that’s a different topic altogether.

    Except… is it really?

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