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Scoot: Spanking leaves a mark on the next generation

The criminal and even disrespectful behavior of young people today is commonly blamed on laws that prohibit parents from spanking their children. Contrary to what Americans have been led to believe – it is not illegal to spank your children. It is, however, illegal to beat your children, and I would hope that every parent understands the difference.

A state representative in Kansas is proposing a bill that would allow parents, caretakers and even teachers to spank children hard enough to leave marks. Representative Gail Finney, a Democrat from Wichita, has introduced legislation that would allow parents to strike their children up to 10 times with the hand – even if the strikes leave redness or bruising. The bill would prohibit hitting a child with a fist or on the head or body or with a belt or switch.

I hear the chorus of voices now saying that finally “we can spank our children!” As a talk show host, I regularly hear listeners say that the problem with the country today is that we can no longer spank our kids – but spanking is legal.

The removal of corporal punishment from many schools across the country and the power that children now think they have over authority when it comes to discipline have created a general hysteria about disciplining children.

While it is legal to spank your children, there are other forms of discipline that are arguably more effective. The point is to establish a direct connection between negative behavior and punishment. A spanking is perhaps the quickest and easiest form of discipline that requires the least amount of effort on the part of the parent.

I am not suggesting that spanking at an early age cannot be an effective deterrent for negative behavior and a way to teach a child to respect authority, but especially as children get older, I don’t think it is the best form of discipline.

The important thing to realize is that it is every parent’s right and responsibility to teach their children consequences for negative behavior and respect for authority. There should be no question that younger generations have grown up with parents who did not take the time to discipline their children, and these parents release into society teens that have no fear of consequences nor basic respect for authority. At that point, it is the responsibility of law enforcement and the courts to administer discipline, and we know that doesn’t always work.

Reaction to a bill which allows parent to spank their children to the point of leaving redness or bruises will range from celebration to outrage, but it should also serve as a reminder that the lack of discipline in our society has greatly contributed to the crime problem.

One of the problems we have in America is an all-or-nothing mentality. In the interest of protecting children from abusive parents, efforts have been made to equate spanking with abuse. Sadly, some parents have found themselves in trouble with Child Protection Services for spanking their children, while others have secretly abused their children for years and never faced punishment.

As long as you are not beating your children, how you administer discipline is up the each parent and should be based on an understanding of their child. When my son was young, time-out was very effective and seemed to be a better way to teach consequences for negative behavior.

Time-out sets up the “if” and “then” choice – “if” you do that again – “then” you sit in time-out. But unlike a quick spanking, time-out requires much more effort from the parent and far too many parents do not want to make an effort.  The parent must establish time-out and be willing to follow through every time it is presented as a consequence.

Since I am not an expert in child psychology, I do not want to suggest the specifics of time-out, which can vary, but it does work. There will always be those who have the mentality that “if my kid does something – I’m going to spank him.” That is an option, but it also may not instill as much respect for authority and the spoken word as time-out.  What you do to discipline your children is not as important as making sure you do something.

There is a general impression that the parents who have children when they are very young and make government assistance a career are the parents who are failing to discipline their children. There are many parents who are not prepared to be parents and never work toward taking child-rearing seriously because they are too focused on themselves.  But there are also negligent parents at the other end of the socio-economic spectrum.

The recent case of a 16-year-old Texas teenager who killed four people while driving drunk has led to outrage after the judge in the case sentenced the teen to probation and no jail time.

The teenager is from an extremely wealthy family and the defense attorney argued in court that the teen was never given strict guidelines from his parents growing up and therefore he didn’t understand consequences for negative behavior and should not be held accountable for killing four people while driving drunk. The defense attorney painted the teenager as a victim who suffered from “afflueza” – a condition from being raised by extremely wealthy parents!

Never acknowledged enough is the parental neglect that occurs in affluent neighborhoods. Because of the financial resources available to the more affluent, their children may escape harsher punishment given to other teenagers.

If we are to expect our society to be civilized, then it is the responsibility of parents to teach consequences for negative behavior and respect for authority. I guess that’s the classic “if” and “then” choice!

“If” you are not prepared to take the time to properly discipline your children – “then” do America a favor - DON’T have kids!

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Locations : KansasTexas
People : Gail Finney

02/19/2014 5:42PM
Scoot: Leaving a mark on the next generation
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