Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spanking vs. Hitting

Something that is very hard for me to understand is physical disciplining of children. In Germany, it really has become very uncommon. If people do it, they do so in secret behind closed doors and do not admit to it. Because it is not considered a good option anymore. It is generally frowned upon. And there are many laws in place that protect children from abuse.

Here in South Carolina I have found that physical discipline is common and widely accepted. I have met mothers who started giving their nine month olds a slap on the hand for not listening. Some mothers think of spanking as a necessity, a tool they cannot live without. And they look down on those who do not spank as people who are too soft, who are not being harsh enough, whose children are going to end up being uncontrollable.

My daughter goes to a church Moms Morning Out program twice a week. A few days ago, I overheard a conversation between one of the ladies who works there and one of the mothers. The mother was talking about her two year old and her troubles with disciplining him. Her main concern was that her son kept hitting her (a phase that all little ones seem to go through around the age of two) and how frustrated she was getting because she felt as though she wasn’t getting through to him, yet she also felt that spanking was not the answer, since she was trying to teach him that hitting was not a good thing to do. The lady who works there was giving the mother advice. What she said was: “You have to teach him that there is a difference between hitting and spanking. You have to explain to him that when you are spanking him, you are not hitting him. You are disciplining him. That is not the same.”

I’ll be honest with you, I was shocked. I really like the lady who works with my daughter. It was strange to hear her advocating spanking. I really hope she never, ever raises a hand against my child…

So, spanking is not the same as hitting because parents do it for disciplinary purposes. Furthermore, according to the lady, if I just explain this difference to my two year old, she will understand.

Of course, there are so many things wrong with this picture that it makes my head spin. No matter what you may like to tell yourself, spanking is hitting. The reason for it is irrelevant, it is the exact same physical act. Some may say that they do not hit hard. This, too, is irrelevant. My daughter is incapable of hitting me hard, yet I still discourage it. To think that a child who has not been able to understand why it isn’t nice to hit other people should be able to comprehend this extremely complex train of thought that suggests that the exact same physical act is different depending on the reason is just ridiculous.

I’m sure very many of you disagree with me. I’m sure many of you use spanking as a form of discipline. That is your choice- so far, it is still a completely legal thing for parents to do. I would just like you to take a minute to think about it. Is it really different from hitting? If someone other than yourself or your spouse were to discipline your child in such a manner, would that be acceptable to you? Or would you call the police on them?

The fact remains that the only human being you are allowed to harm physically is your own child. If you were to ‘spank’ your spouse or friend because they didn’t do what you wanted them to, you would be arrested. And so I can say, with absolute conviction, that spanking and hitting are the same thing. Always. With no exceptions.