On Sep 15th, HealthyDay News published an article from a study done by Lisa J. Berlin, a research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.
The gist of the study was that if you spank your child at one (1) year old, [ that's twelve months for young mothers who still count age by months], they are more aggressive by age 2, and evolve into criminals at adulthood!!!
Berlin and her colleagues looked at data from 2500 white, black and Mexican-Americans from low income families.
Makes one wonder if it is the spanking, the home environment or the opportunity.
"Regardless of governmental laws, God's law states that spanking is necessary for the proper development of a child." - La Vista Church of Christ, Omaha NE.
"Join other activists in a demonstration at the U.S. Capitol Building for the immediate banning of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, also known as 'corporal punishment,' in U.S. Public Schools." - Invitation by "Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education."
The two quotes above are very contrasting, but is the church right in saying that the bible teaches "spanking" as a disciplinary measure?
Funk & Wagnals defines spank as "1. To slap or strike, esp. on the buttocks with the open hand
If this being the case then it is NOT Biblical. We've all seen pictures of a child being bent over the knee while a "spanking???" is being administered with a switch similar to http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/42/Spanking_Douglas.jpg
This would be considered acceptable as the hand should never be used to discipline a child. The hand would be considered too personal and more in the order of punishment than discipline.
Scriptures in the Proverbs talk about using a "rod" to administer the appropriate measure.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it." [Prov 22:6]
So does training include striking the child with a rod as a disciplinary measure? Or is training only talking to your child when we all know that they learn by watching us rather than what we, as parents, say. But, isn't this the same author of the Proverbs that said "If you beat him with a rod, he will not die." and goes on in the next verse to say, "You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from sheol." [Prov 23:13, 14]
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." [Deut 6:6, 7]
It would appear that as we practice God's commandments that we should include our children and practicing what we preach is certainly the best teacher. But, we all know that parents will fall short of the perfection God demands. And children will fall even shorter because their examples are their parents while the parents example should be God's will through scripture.
The trend has been to abandon spanking in favor of alternate disciplinary methods such as time outs or withdrawing privileges (grounding). This insulates the child from the realities of the world where there are consequences for inappropriate behavior.
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend spanking. It is their belief that although most Americans were spanked as children, they now suspect that it has several important side effects.
* Even though spanking may seem to "work" at first, it loses its impact after a while.
* Because most parents do not want to spank, they are less likely to be consistent.
* Spanking increases aggression and anger instead of teaching responsibility.
* Parents may intend to stay calm but often do not, and then regret their actions later.
* Spanking can lead to physical struggles and even grow to the point of harming the child.
They continue, "It is true that many adults who were spanked as children may be well-adjusted and caring people today. However, research has shown that, when compared with children who are not spanked, children who are spanked are more likely to become adults who are depressed, use alcohol, have more anger, hit their own children, hit their spouses, and engage in crime and violence. These adult outcomes make sense because spanking teaches a child that causing others pain is OK if you're frustrated or want to maintain control?even with those you love. A child is not likely to see the difference between getting spanked from his parents and hitting a sibling or another child when he doesn't get what he wants."
American Academy of Pediatrics instead recommends that parents learn effective ways to discipline their child by:
* Natural consequences. ie. if your child keeps dropping their cookies on purpose, they will soon have no more cookies left to eat. In other words your child will learn best when they learn for themselves.
* Logical consequences. When you use this method, it is important that you mean what you say. Be prepared to follow through right away. You do not have to yell and scream. Be firm and respond in a calm way.
* Withholding privileges is when you tell your child that if they do not cooperate, they will have to give something up they like.
They also recommend time-outs and once the sentence is served it is NOT to ever be brought up again. Is this training the child or the parent, mother in this instance. If the child persists in their bad behavior, and if the subject is not brought up, how will they know that they are getting longer sentences for repeating their unsatisfactory behavior.
If corporal punishment advocates are correct, then the abandonment of spanking will significantly increase violence and criminal activity among the next generation of adults. Society will become more violent. More people will be victimized. We will have to build additional jails to hold all of the criminals.
If corporal punishment opponents are correct, then the abandonment of spanking will greatly decrease youth rage and criminal activity among both teens and adults. Over the longer term, levels of clinical depression, clinical anxiety, alcohol and other drug addiction among adults will also decrease.
So the quandary persists. But, one thing is sure, the Bible NEVER says to strike your child but "he who spares the rod hates his son." To strike is to hit, slap, punch and even spank with your hand. This is the hand that is supposed to be extended for comfort and protection. If the hand has a "rod" in it, then the child knows that it is a disciplinary instrument and has time to think about what they did wrong.
Sometimes it's that knowledge that has a child accepting his punishment for disobedient behavior.
My dad used his hand when he corrected us for doing wrong, while my mother would use a willow switch on our legs. The discipline my father meted out was punishment and it made us wary if he raised his voice and his hands were empty. My mother's discipline was contrasting in that we didn't feel exposed to corrective action if she raised her voice and did not have a switch handy. It was the "rod" that signified correction was impending. In my dad's case it was the fear of the punishment not the behavior that kept us walking the line.
The Bible was right "Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die. Hell and Destruction are before the LORD; So how much more the hearts of the sons of men. A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, Nor will he go to the wise. A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, But by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken. The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness." [Prov 15:10-14 NKJV]
In His service