I am writing in response to Mr. Porter’s column on spanking in the Oct. 25, 2013, Sierra Sun. I am a mandated reporter of child abuse and neglect. I take it very seriously. The decision to report child abuse is never made lightly as I know there can be serious consequences for the family and child.
Experts in the field of child development have warned against spanking for decades, yet parents continue to spank. I think some parents who choose spanking tend to reason, “I was spanked as a child and I turned out OK,” or may think other methods don’t work as well.
The main issue with spanking is it can escalate to abuse especially when the parent is angry. The wooden spoon spanking of the 12-year-old left bruising on the girl. This prompted a teacher to report it as child abuse. Even if the mother did not intend to hurt her child (just “scare her into submission”), injuries from punishment cause many consequences for the child.
Consider the shame and humiliation. Shame is never an effective means of creating long-term change. Shame implies something is wrong with you rather than something is wrong with the actions you have taken. Shame creates defensiveness, aggression, and ends up exacerbating the conflict.
And yes, physical punishment might be effective in the moment by creating fear in your child. However, studies show the pattern of spanking has to be sustained or increased to continue being effective.
Additionally, think of the messages you are giving to your child. You are modeling hitting as a way to resolve conflict and a way to express anger.
Your children are a reflection of you as a parent. So, if you want them to resolve conflict without resorting to yelling, tantrums, or aggression, you have to model that for them.