AUDIO VERSION BELOW ARTICLE
I have gone back and forth over the years on whether or not it is okay to spank children. Most of that time is spent in the ‘Never’ camp, but sometimes I do meet children so rotten that it seems only mildly painful physical sensation could rouse them from their madness. For adults, madness can have consequences.
As an adult you have to mind your P’s & Q’s, especially around larger adults, or you might get popped in the nose. Maybe that is not fair, or right, but it is the legacy of our long evolution through the animal kingdom. We have to acclimate to the knowledge that alarming behaviors can have just as alarming consequences. Protecting your children from experiencing the natural consequences of their actions is an obvious way to raise a Napolean. But does that mean it is okay for you to hit them?
Every human being and every situation or unique. I am afraid that I do not find it difficult to imagine a scenario in which an adult used mild restrained violence against a child as an immediate natural consequence for some behavior, and it was justified. I have seen a child suffering a severe asthmatic reaction who refused to take the medicine he needed. It became necessary to pinch his nose and wash the pill down. This may not be intended as violence, but the child felt like it was. His outlandish behavior was an obstacle against his well being, and so it was deemed necessary. And I believe it was. Situations like these make it difficult to navigate the topic of violence against children, because there always seems to be some sort of exception that calls the logical premises of either argument into question.
Where I think we can draw the line and say that violence against children is wrong is when it becomes a punishment. When it becomes revenge or threatens to teach a lesson or create a memory. When spanking looms over a childhood as a possible consequence. This is when the violence becomes organized, systematic, institutional. This is where the violence is done not on the child’s behalf or in their best interest, but for the maligned reason and intent of the person doing the spanking.
Spanking is not an immediate response. It is not a natural consequence. It is a planned response. When the threat of it seeks to condition the child to the terms of their domination or submission, your home is nothing more than a brutal dictatorship. Your child will absorb that implicit message and will grow up to become either a mindless sycophant or a ruthless tyrant.
Spanking is the lesson of the state. We own you. We control you. Submit to us or join us or suffer our wrath.
Spanking is effective. It is not even overly cruel, as far as violence goes. The problem is the message it sends. The knowledge of it’s possibility trains a child to be either the enemy of their selves or of everyone else. All arguments in favor of spanking are predicated on its supposed effectiveness and low pain/damage inflicted. Yet they ignore the residual and implicit consequences of spanking. They ignore the unintended side effects of living under constant threat. Growing up in that environment does nothing to help your child reach their potential as an adult. Spanking creates a lifelong psychological message that reduces the number of choices your child feels they are free to make. It destroys their freedom from within.
If it is your intention to raise a faceless statistic in the swirling mass of humanity, another fearful sycophant who bows to the professional mercenaries of the ruling elite who enslave them, then by all means- whip ’em good. Likewise, if you want them to become one of those monsters, lay into them. But if you want an intelligent child who feels free to think critically and act independently, who is self-aware and conscious of big picture thinking, then keep your hands off of them. Freedom begins from within, and free people do not feel compelled or forced to impinge on the liberties of others. Teach your child how to be free, quit conditioning them against it with the fear and memory of organized violence against them.