Legal Law

To spank or not to spank: what the experts say

“There was never a time when a major social problem was solved by beating a child. And there will never be a time like this… For centuries, adults have hurt children and lied about it, and other adults have listened to those lies and then simply rejected…we must start placing the blame where it belongs.” -vs. Everett Koop, MD, Sc.D.

Desmond M. Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, 2006.

“No violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children is preventable.” This is the key message of the Report of the Independent Expert Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Appointed by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, Study of the UN Secretary General, 2003.

“The claim that light punishments (slaps or smacks) have no detrimental effect is still widespread because we received this message very early from our parents who had taken it from their parents. Unfortunately, the main damage it causes is precisely the widespread dissemination of this conviction. The result is that each successive generation is subject to the tragic effects of the so-called ‘physical correction’. … Physical cruelty and emotional humiliation not only leave their marks on children, but also inflict a disastrous mark on the future of our society. Therefore, information on the effects of “well-intentioned hitting” should be an integral part of pregnancy courses and parenting counseling.” -Alice Miller, “Every Hit is a Humiliation”, 1998. http://

Miller, Alice. The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1981.

Miller, Alice. For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Parenting and the Roots of Violence. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Girous, 1983; The Noday Press, 1990.

Miller, Alice. You will not notice: the betrayal of the child by society. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1984.

Miller, Alice. Knowledge banished. New York: Doubleday, 1990.

Miller, Alice. The key intact. New York: Doubleday, 1990

Miller, Alice. Breaking the Wall of Silence. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1991.

“A society that hits children little or not at all is likely to result in fewer alienated, depressed, or suicidal people, and fewer violent marriages. The potential benefits to society as a whole are just as great. These include lower crime rates, especially for violent crime; greater economic productivity; and less money spent on controlling or treating crime and mental illness…A society that raises children in loving, humane, and nonviolent methods is likely to be less violent, healthier , and richer”.

-Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. From “A Society Without Corporal Punishment”.

“The adult flagellant fantasy, in short, always derives from the infantile one. As with all sexual perversions, we are dealing with a strain of arrested development… which puberty and subsequent experience have failed to dislodge… We need to examine its roots in childhood…” -Ian Gibson, The English Vice, 1979

“Frequent spanking can also have a negative impact on sexual development. Due to the proximity of the sexual organs, a child may become sexually aroused when spanked. Or he may enjoy the reconciliations that follow the punishment so much that he will seek to suffer.” as a necessary prelude to love. There are many grown couples who seem to need a good fight before a good night.” -Dr. Haim G. Ginott, child psychologist, Between Parent and Child, 1966.

“Being hit sexually arouses children because it is an intense arousal of the erogenous zones of the skin of the buttocks and of the muscles under the skin…” -Otto Fenickel, MD The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis, 1945.

“The most positive social changes around the world have followed massive improvements in the way children are treated.” -Robin Grille, author of Parenting for a Peaceful World, 2005.

“Children should never receive less protection than adults… [we must] put an end to the adult justification of violence against children, whether accepted as ‘tradition’ or disguised as ‘discipline’.” -Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, member of the UN Sub-Commission on the promotion and protection of human rights, Geneva, 2006.

“I have never accepted the ‘lose the stick and spoil the child’ principle…I am convinced that violent parents produce violent children…Children don’t need to be beaten. They need love and encouragement. They need parents they can look with respect instead of fear. Above all, they need the example.” -Gordon B. Hinckley, President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, October 1994 General Conference.

“Any form of corporal punishment or ‘spanking’ is a violent attack on the integrity of another human being. The effect remains with the victim forever and becomes an unrelenting part of their personality: massive frustration resulting in hostility that it will seek expression in later life in violent acts toward others. The sooner we understand that love and gentleness are the only kinds of behavior required toward children, the better. The child, especially, learns to become the kind of human being that he or she has. This must be fully understood by all caregivers.” -Ashley Montagu, anthropologist, 1989. Extract from personal communication.

“Corporal punishment of children actually interferes with the learning process and their optimal development as socially responsible adults. We believe it is important that public health workers, teachers, and others concerned with the emotional and physical health of children children and youth support the adoption of alternative approaches to achieving self-control and responsible behavior in children and adolescents.” -Daniel F. Whiteside, MD, Assistant Surgeon General, Department of Health and Human Services, President Ronald Reagan Administration, 1990 .

“When our Founding Fathers wrote into the basic law of our land protection against cruel and unusual punishment for all, including dissidents and criminals, they were not convinced by the evidence, scientific or otherwise, that such punishments do not work. They added the amendment because of ethical considerations. They valued a climate of liberty more than the security of ruling by force over a unanimous population. Over the years, these proud hopes have slowly approached reality. Except in the case of children. Which brings us back to our original question: How can standard ethics be circumvented for certain groups of people?” -Adah Maurer, “Psychodynamics of the Punisher,” Watman Educational Services, 1974. See

“Punitive measures, whether administered by police, teachers, spouses, or parents, have well-known standard effects: 1) escape: education has its own name for it: truancy, 2) counterattack: school vandalism. schools and attacks on teachers, 3) apathy: a sullen withdrawal that does nothing. The more violent the punishment, the more serious the byproducts.” -BF Skinner, Ph.D., author, Professor of Psychology, Harvard. Extract from personal communication, 1983.

“Corporal punishment trains children to accept and tolerate aggression. It always occupies a prominent place in the roots of adolescent and adult aggression, especially in those manifestations that take an antisocial form such as delinquency and criminality.”

-Philip Greven, Professor of History, Rutgers University. Extract from PART IV CONSEQUENCES, subtitle: “Assault and Delinquency”, in Spare the Child: The Religious Roots of Punishment and the Psychological Impact of Physical Abuse, 1990 p.193)

“I have always been an advocate of the total abolition of corporal punishment and I believe that the connection to the pornography that is so oriented is rooted in our tradition of beating children.” -Gordon Moyes, DD, Pastor, United Church, Superintendent of Wesley Central Mission, Sydney, Australia. Extract from personal communication, 1980.

“The much-touted ‘biblical argument’ in support of corporal punishment is based on textual proof of a few isolated passages from Proverbs. Using the same method of selective reading of Scripture, one could also cite the Bible as an authority for the practice of slavery, adultery, polygamy, incest, suppression of women, execution of people who eat pork, and infanticide.The brutal and vengeful practice of corporal punishment cannot be reconciled with the major New Testament themes that teach love and forgiveness. and respect for the sacredness and dignity of children–and who overwhelmingly reject violence and retribution as a means of solving human problems.Would Jesus ever beat a child?NEVER!-Reverend Thomas E. Sagendorf , retired United Methodist clergyman), Hamilton, Indiana. 2006.

“Researchers have also found that children who are spanked show higher rates of aggression and delinquency in childhood than those who are not spanked. As adults, they are more prone to depression, feelings of alienation, use of violence towards the spouse and lower economic status. and professional achievement. None of this is what we want for our children.” Alvin Poussaint, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. From “Spanking Strikes Out”, 1999.

“Inflicting pain or discomfort, however minor, is not a desirable method of communicating with children.” -American Medical Association, House of Delegates, 1985.

“As long as the child is educated not by love, but by fear, humanity will live not by justice, but by force. As long as the child is ruled by the threat of the educator and by the rod of the father, while humanity Will it be dominated by the police club, by the fear of jail and by the panic of invading armies and navies? -Boris Sidis, from “A Lecture on the Abuse of the Fear Instinct in Early Education” in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1919.

“Slavish discipline creates an enslaving temper… Beating them, and all other kinds of corporal and servile punishment, are not the proper discipline to be used in the education of those we want to be wise, good, and resourceful men.” -John Locke, 1632-1704, “Some Thoughts Concerning Education”, 1692.

“Do not rebuke the student hastily, for that will dull his wits and discourage his diligence, but [ad]admonish him gently, which will make him willing to mend his ways and glad to go on with love and hope to learn… Let the teacher say, ‘You do well here.’ For I assure you that there is no such whetstone to sharpen a good wit and foster a love of learning as his praise… In my opinion love is more suitable than fear, meekness better than beating, for educating correctly to a child in learning. -Roger Ascham, tutor to Queen Elizabeth I, from The Scholemaster [Schoolmaster]published in 1570.

“Children must be induced to honorable practices through encouragement and reasoning, and certainly not through beatings and ill-treatment.” -Plutarch, circa AD 46-120, “The Education of Children”, vol. I, Moralia, Ancient Greece.

“It is disgusting and subservient treatment… When children are beaten, pain or fear often results in making it unpleasant to talk to and which is subsequently likely to be a source of embarrassment, embarrassing embarrassment and it depresses the mind. and leads the child to shun the light of day and detest the light… I am not going to spend any more time on this matter. We already know enough about it.” -Quintilian, circa AD 40-118, Institutes of Oratory, Ancient Rome

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