The Harm From Spanking Kids

Physical Punishment

Joseph Stromberg wants to ban corporal punishment:

The idea of a law against spanking might seem like a sudden government intrusion on the rights of parents. But the truth is that parents’ and adults’ supposed “rights” have steadily been giving way to children’s actual rights for some time now — and that the US is actually behind much of the world in this area.

For most of human history, children had no rights against physical abuse at all: in most societies, a parent was free to beat them however they saw fit. In the US, during the early and mid 20th century, laws were gradually passed that protected children from physical and sexual abuse, along with neglect.

Most recently, 37 nations have banned all forms of physical punishment, including spanking. The earliest laws came in 1979, but the movement has been accelerating as of late — 29 countries have enacted bans since 2000.

Michael Brendan Dougherty questions Stromberg’s evidence:

Even for someone as disinclined to spank a child as I am, it is hard not to see the problems in this argument.

The author’s chief strategy is to float a small raft of social science studies that spanking leads to delinquent behavior, lack of cognitive development, and basically a crummy life. But some of the studies cited claimed no causal link between spanking and the unwanted outcome. They were also based on tiny sample sizes, and relied on surveys done over just a two-week period. Didn’t spank your child in those two weeks? Well now you’re a statistic that counts against spanking altogether.

(Map from Wikipedia)