One of the most hotly contested debates in parenting may become a law. It’s not whether mothers should be allowed to breastfeed in public, cosleeping, or how long a child should be using a car seat. The issue is whether or not parents should be spanking their children when they misbehave. A member of the Scottish Parliament introduced a law that would make spanking a child an assault in the eyes of the law. Not only that, but the party that controls the Scottish Parliament has vowed to make it a law sometime early next year.
Surprisingly, Scotland will not be the first country to turn parents into criminals for punishing their children. There are 52 other countries who also have this law on the books, including France, Sweden, and Switzerland. The United Kingdom and United States do not have any law on the books around spanking children…yet.
Supporters of the law say that spanking teaches children that violence is the way to solve problems. Opponents of the law believe that our children need to learn respect for their elders, and that coddling our children is bad for them and society. Images like this are now popping up all over the internet:
There have been numerous studies done on whether or not spanking is harmful to children. In 2016, a group of scientists decided to look closely at these studies and what they found is rather surprising.
The results show that the differences between children who were spanked and those who were not is very small once they became adults. Also, there is no proof that spanking caused these differences. It could be that the children who were spanked were predisposed to bad behavior as a part of their personality, and that is why they were being spanked as a child.
The bottom line is that it’s very hard to prove or disprove whether or not spanking a child has any long term effects. However, it seems letting children get away with misbehaving is having a very real effect on our society.
One of the professors who looked at the studies, Bob Larzelere from Oklahoma State University, suggests that there may be a good middle ground. He believes that spanking should be used only when children don’t respond to another form of punishment first. For instance, if the child refuses to go into a “time out” or spending time alone in their room.
Have you ever been out at a restaurant or another public place and seen a child disrespecting their parents or elders? What do you think should be done about it?