Spankings: The savior for misbehavior?

TOMMY HILL Contributing Writer

About two years ago around this time The wrote an article about the Minnesota Viking’s star running back, Adrian Peterson, headlining the “spanking” of his 4-year old son at the time. Now to most people what’s done in their household is their business and it doesn’t really escalate any farther than that, but as a celebrity, pretty much anything you do can be blown out of proportion. In Peterson’s testimony there were, “open wounds and welts on the boy’s back, legs, buttocks, and scrotum.” As I’m reading this I’m thinking to myself of all the times I got spankings as a kid and my story was never told to the media.

As a matter of fact, I remember one time I got a spanking so bad that I told my parents I was going to call the Department of Family and Child Services. What really shocked me is when they looked me dead in my eyes, laughed, and physically gave me the number for DFACS. I wasn’t sure if they were legit crazy, calling my bluff, or if I was going to get a worse spanking than before, so I kept quiet. In the end it turns out that my dad was on the DFACS board, so I was pretty much stuck. I can tell you that even though I can’t even remember what I did, I can guarantee you that I never did that thing again.

Spankings at times are necessary to a certain extent. There’s a fine line between a spanking and a beating. The big controversy is focused on where that line is drawn at. Granted, when I’m a parent if my child does something I told them not to do, they’ll have to be punished. Now whenever they think about doing what they’re not supposed to do, they will think of the consequences. On the other side of the spectrum they have a whole other way of looking at things.

“It’s a very controversial area, even though the research is extremely telling and very clear and consistent about the negative effects on children,” says Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD, a psychology professor and principal investigator for the Child Violence and Trauma Laboratory at the University of Michigan. Dr. Graham-Bermann said on, that from a psychological standpoint, spanking your children has negative effects, such as increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and even mental health problems.

“Spanking doesn’t work,” says Alan Kazdin, PhD, a Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. “You cannot punish out these behaviors that you do not want,” says Kazdin, who served as APA president in 2008. “There is no need for corporal punishment based on the research. We are not giving up an effective technique. We are saying this is a horrible thing that does not work.”

Even though I don’t agree with their point of view I always make it a priority to at least try to see it from another perspective. So as a minor in psychology, I had to learn all of the vocabulary words and theories they’re proposing in their article and to be quite honest they know their stuff.

Viewing each side of the spectrum, there are two factors that really help determine one’s stance on the issue. The first is based on how one was raised. People that were spanked as children tend to grow up to raise their own children in the same manner. The other aspect is how your child acts. If your child rarely gets in trouble and happens to get into a spat with another child. There’s no need to go spank them, because the behavior is not common. So whether you decide to spank your child or not, I’ll promise not to tell my dad.