Spanking Produces Troubled Kids?
A while back I learned about an article that was originally published online on February 6, 2012, from the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The article was about spanking, wherein two child development experts warn that physical punishment poses serious risks to a child's long-term development. They claim, after analyzing two decades worth of research, that "virtually without exception, these studies found that physical punishment was associated with higher levels of aggression against parents, siblings, peers, and spouses." Furthermore, besides higher levels of aggression, they claim there is a link between physical punishment and anxiety, depression, and drug & alcohol abuse.

When I read things like this, I'm always suspicious. Why? Well, for starters, my own personal experiences make me skeptical. I can vividly remember getting spanked by my father as a boy (prior to my teenage years) for misbehavior. Dad, as long as I've known him, has always been very hard of hearing. When I had earned a spanking, he'd instruct me to lay down on my bed with my bare bottom exposed. He didn't use anything but his hard hands, and as he applied the blows, he would say loudly: "You're not going to do that anymore, are you boy?!" Even after I answered, he kept on (either because he wasn't finished or couldn't hear me--I never could ascertain which). Thankfully, I didn't get spanked very often (though you'll have to decide whether that was due to generally good behavior on my part or the fact that my father was often away from home for weeks at a time due to work). I believe my parents reared me to be a self-disciplined man. I don't believe being spanked has made me more aggressive in any way.

Additionally, I'm skeptical about anti-spanking studies because of other parents I've talked to who were spanked themselves and who, at times, have spanked their own children (as Ranae and I do). These adults I have in mind are self-controlled, non-aggressive, and their children appear to be doing exceedingly well. How can this be since "virtually without exception" I should be seeing higher levels of aggression in these adults and their children?

Apparently plenty of people I don't know are suspicious, too. Other studies claim that although spanking has declined in the USA since the 1970s, most parents still believe it is an acceptable form of punishment. Nearly 80% of preschool children in the United States are spanked (according to a University of North Carolina study from 2010). I would never suggest that spanking is the central component in disciplining children, but it ought to be an available form of instruction, particularly for younger children.

"Well Stephen, that's just your opinion." Indeed it is, but it's based on a much higher authority than any "developmental expert." The Bible has much to say about the need for proper physical discipline, and that's ultimately the main reason why I'm skeptical of anti-spanking propaganda. I believe the Bible is from God Himself and that He created humanity and certainly knows what is best for all of us.

Consider these verses from Scripture as we close:

If God affirms the need for proper physical discipline (and clearly He does), who am I to argue? The sad reality is that we do have a number of troubled kids, parents, and families today. But the root cause is not spanking, it's worldliness and a failure to submit to God in all things!