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Child corporal punishment: spanking

Quotations showing diverse opinions

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bullet Anon: "Spanking is simply another form of terrorism. It teaches the victims that might makes right, and that problems can be solved through the use of violence by the strong against the weak."
bullet Dr. Ralph Welsh, who has given psychological exams to over 2,000 delinquents has said:
bullet " is now apparent that the recidivist male delinquent who was never struck with a belt, board, extension cord, fist, or an equivalent is virtually nonexistent. Even after 10 years, the full impact of this discovery is still difficult to comprehend."
bullet "As the severity of corporal punishment in the delinquent's developmental history increases, so does the probability that he will engage in a violent act." 3
bullet "I have yet to see a repeat male delinquent that wasn't raised on a belt, board, cord, or fist."
bullet From an Email by a visitor to this web site:

"In the 19th century, Christians gradually realized that human slavery was  profoundly immoral, even though it was recognized, permitted, condoned, regulated and accepted in dozens of biblical passages. This was a great shock to people who had assumed that the Bible was 'the Good Book.' They were forced to realize that the Bible promoted an immoral institution, and that 19th century morality was superior to that of the Bible. We are now in the 21st century and Christians will be going through the same process with regard to the whipping of children."

bullet Ken Gallinger, "Ethically Speaking" columnist for the Toronto Star:

"Spanking is an act of violence, so ethically, it could be justified only if there was absolutely no other way to improve the way kids act."  1

bullet American Medical Association, (1985): "Infliction of pain or discomfort, however minor, is not a desirable method of communicating with children."
bullet Mark Benedict, Christian Family Foundations: "I also believe the scriptural reference to the "rod" best corresponds to a switch or perhaps a flexible paddle."
bullet Dawn Walker, Canadian Institute of Child Health: "Children need discipline but not hitting."
bullet Sharon "I have heard terrible stories of children becoming spoiled, drug using, atheists if they aren't spanked."
bullet Dr. Benjamin Spock: "If we are ever to turn toward a kindlier society and a safer world, a revulsion against the physical punishment of children would be a good place to start."
bullet Comments by Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE) from their website at
bullet "Spanking does for a child's development what wife-beating does for a marriage."
bullet "At this time in the United States, the only people who can smack someone on the buttocks as part of their paid professional duties are schoolteachers, prostitutes and performers in the pornography filming industry."
bullet Quintilian (circa 35 - 95 CE) from his "Institutes of Oratory." This was written about the same time as the Gospel of Mark.

"I disapprove of flogging, although it is the regular custom... because in the first place it is a disgraceful form of punishment and fit only for slaves, and is in any case an insult, as you will realize if you imagine its infliction at a later age. Secondly if a boy is so insensible to instruction that reproof is useless, he will, like the worst type of slave, merely become hardened to blows... And though you may compel a child with blows, what are you to do with him when he is a young man no longer amenable to such threats and confronted with tasks of far greater difficulty? Moreover when children are beaten, pain or fear frequently have results of which it is not pleasant to speak and which are likely subsequently to be a source of shame, a shame which unnerves and depresses the mind and leads the child to shun and loathe the light....I will not linger on this subject; it is more than enough if I have made my meaning clear. I will content myself with saying that children are helpless and easily victimized, and that therefore no one should be given unlimited power over them."

bullet Boris Sidis, from a lecture on the abuse of the fear instinct in early education in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1919.

"As long as the child will be trained not by love, but by fear, so long will humanity live not by justice, but by force. As long as the child will be ruled by the educator?s threat and by the father?s rod, so long will mankind be dominated by the policeman?s club, by fear of jail, and by panic of invasion by armies and navies.?

bullet The Bible, Proverbs 23:14. The authorship is traditionally attributed to King Solomon: "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell."
bullet Part of a burlesque poem by Samuel Butler written in the 1664 CE discussing sexual activities between a overweight man and a widow. This seems to be the source of the well known pro-spanking phrase. 2 "Love is a boy by poets styled. Then spare the rod and spoil the child."
bullet Robert Larzelere, Boys' Home:

"...optimal disciplinary responses begin with less severe tactics, such as reasoning, but proceed to firmer disciplinary tactics when the initial tactic achieves neither compliance nor an acceptable compromise."

bullet Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, University of Michigan.

"Even minimal amounts of spanking can lead to an increased likelihood in antisocial behavior by children."

bullet Alvin Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School:

"Researchers have also found that children who are spanked show higher rates of aggression and delinquency in childhood than those who were not spanked. As adults, they are more prone to depression, feelings of alienation, use of violence toward a spouse, and lower economic and professional achievement. None of this is what we want for our children."

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Reference used:

  1. Ken Gallinger, "The Bible is simply wrong on spanking," Toronto Star, 2007-DEC-15.

  2. From the essay "Spanking Strikes Out," (1999), at:

  3. Adah Maurer & James S. Wallerstein, "The Influence of Corporal Punishment on Crime," The Natural Child Project, (1987), at:

Copyright 1995 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2009-MAY-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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