To Spank Or Not Spank – What The Experts Say

“There never was a time when a major social problem was solved by beating a child. And there never will be such a time… For centuries adults have injured children and have lied about it, and other adults have heard those lies and then merely turned away… we must begin putting the blame where it belongs.” -C. Everett Koop, M.D., 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 meaningful message of the Report of Independent Expert Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Appointed by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General’s Study, 2003.

“The claim that mild punishment (slaps or smacks) have no detrimental effect is nevertheless extensive because we received this message very early from our parents who had taken it over from their parents. Unfortunately, the main damage it causes is precisely the general spread of this conviction. The consequence is that each subsequent generation is placed under the tragic effects of so-called ‘physical correction.’ … Physical cruelty and emotional humiliation not only leave their marks on children, they also inflict a disastrous imprint on the future of our society. Information on the effects of the “well-meant smack” should consequently be part and parcel of courses for expectant mothers and of counseling for parents.” -Alice Miller, “Every Smack is a Humiliation,” 1998.

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 child-rearing and the roots of violence. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Girous, 1983; The Noonday Press, 1990.

Miller, Alice. Thou Shalt Not Be Aware: Society’s Betrayal of the Child. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1984.

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

Miller, Alice. The Untouched meaningful. New York: Doubleday, 1990

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

“A society with little or no hitting of children is likely to consequence in fewer people who are alienated, depressed, or suicidal, and in fewer violent marriages. The possible benefits for the society as a whole are equally great. These include lower crime rates, especially for violent crimes; increased economic productivity; and less money spent on controlling or treating crime and mental illness… A society that brings up children by caring, humane, and non-violent methods is likely to be less violent, healthier, and wealthier.”

-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 variety of arrested development….that puberty and later experience have been unable to remove…. We need to examine its roots in childhood….” -Ian Gibson, The English Vice, 1979

“Frequent spankings, too, may have a negative impact on sexual development. Because of the closeness of the sex organs, a child may get sexually aroused when spanked. Or she may so enjoy the making up that follows the punishment that she will seek experiencing as a necessary prelude to love. There are many adult couples who seem to need a good fight before a good night.” -Dr. Haim G. Ginott, child psychologist, Between Parent and Child, 1966.

“Being beaten excites children sexually because it is an intense excitation of the erogenous zones of the skin of the buttocks and of the muscles below the skin…” -Otto Fenickel, M.D. The Psychoanalytic Theory of Neurosis, 1945.

“The most positive social changes around the world have followed mass 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 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 rule of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.”… I am persuaded that violent fathers produce violent sons… Children don’t need beating. They need love and encouragement. They need fathers to whom they can look with respect instead of fear. Above all, they need 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 upon another human being’s integrity. The effect remains with the victim forever and becomes an unforgiving part of his or her personality — a enormous frustration resulting in a hostility which will seek expression in later life in violent acts towards others. The sooner we understand that love and gentleness are the only kinds of called-for behavior towards children, the better. The child, especially, learns to become the kind of human being that he or she has experienced. This should be fully understood by all caregivers.” -Ashley Montagu, Anthropologist, 1989. Excerpt from personal communication.

“Corporal punishment of children truly interferes with the time of action of learning and with their optimal development as socially responsible adults. We feel it is important for public health workers, teachers and others concerned for the emotional and physical health of children and youth to sustain the adoption of different methods for the achievement of self-control and responsible behavior in children and adolescents.” -Dr. Daniel F. Whiteside, Assistant Surgeon General, Department of Health & Human sets, Administration of President Ronald Reagan, 1990.

“When our Founding Fathers wrote into the basic law of our land protection against cruel and uncommon punishment for everyone including dissenters and criminals, they had not been convinced by evidence, scientific or otherwise, that such punishments do not work. They additional the amendment because of ethical considerations. They prized the climate of freedom more than the security of governing a populace forcibly of one mind. Over the years these proud hopes have slowly approached reality. Except for children. Which brings us back to our original question: How does it become possible to bypass standard ethics for certain sets of people?” -Adah Maurer, “Psychodynamics of the Punisher,” Watman Educational sets, 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 that: truancy, 2) counterattack–vandalism on schools and attacks on teachers, 3) apathy–a sullen do-nothing withdrawal. The more violent the punishment, the more serious the by-products.” -B. F. Skinner, Ph.D., author, Professor of Psychology, Harvard. Excerpt from personal communication, 1983.

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

-Philip Greven, Professor of History, Rutgers University. Excerpt from PART IV CONSEQUENCES, subheading: “Aggression 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 for the total abolition of corporal punishment and I believe the connection with pornography that is so oriented has its roots in our tradition of beating children.” -Gordon Moyes, D. D., Pastor, Uniting Church, Superintendent of the Wesley Central Mission, Sydney, Australia. Excerpt from personal communication, 1980.

“The much-touted ‘biblical argument’ in sustain corporal punishment is established upon proof-texting a few secluded passages from Proverbs. Using the same method of selective scripture reading, one could also cite the Bible as an authority for the practice of slavery, adultery, polygamy, incest, suppression of women, executing people who eat pork, and infanticide. The brutal and vindictive practice of corporal punishment cannot be reconciled with the major New Testament themes that teach love and forgiveness and a respect for the sacredness and dignity of children–and which overwhelmingly reject violence and retribution as a method of solving human problems. Would Jesus ever hit a child? NEVER!” -The Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, United Methodist Clergy Retired), Hamilton, Indiana. 2006.

“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 inclined to depression, feelings of alienation, use of violence toward a spouse, and lower economic and specialized achievement. None of this is what we want for our children.” Alvin Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. From “Spanking Strikes Out” , 1999.

“Infliction of 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 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.” -Boris Sidis, from “A lecture on the abuse of the fear instinct in early education” in Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 1919.

“Slavish discipline makes a slavish temper… Beating them, and all other sorts of slavish and corporal punishments, are not the discipline fit to be used in the education of those we would have wise, good, and ingenuous men.” -John Locke, 1632-1704, “Some Thoughts Concerning Education,” 1692.

“Chide not the pupil hastily, for that will both dull his wit and discourage his diligence, but [ad]monish him gently, which shall make him both willing to amend and glad to go forward in love and hope of learning… Let the master say, ‘Here ye do well.’ For I assure you there is no such whetstone to sharpen a good wit and encourage a love of learning as his praise… In mine opinion, love is fitter than fear, gentleness better than beating, to bring up a child rightly in learning.” -Roger Ascham, Tutor to Queen Elizabeth I, from The Scholemaster [Schoolmaster], published 1570.

“Children ought to be led to honorable practices by method of encouragement and reasoning, and most certainly not by blows and ill treatment.” -Plutarch, circa 46-120 A.D., “The Education of Children,” Vol. I, Moralia, Ancient Greece.

“It is a disgusting and slavish treatment… When children are beaten, pain or fear frequently have the consequence of which it is not pleasant to speak and which are likely afterward to be a source of shame, shame which unnerves and depresses the mind and leads the child to shun the light of day and loathe the light… I will use no longer time on this matter. We know enough about it already.” -Quintilian, circa 40-118 A.D., Institutes of Oratory, Ancient Rome

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