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Corporal Punishment and Child Protective Services, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

I was spanked as a child; not often…but I was spanked.  I knew the implications of my actions, and I realized the severity of potential punishment.  I was not spanked often merely because I did not need a spanking, and I learned from my mischievous behavior sooner rather than later.  Spanking and the utilization of corporal punishment are in fact the most typical types of parental punishment today.  Time online magazine (2011) reveals that, “studies have found that up to 90% of all parents use corporal punishment” (Rochman).  Although parents should not abuse their children, there is nothing wrong with corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment and spanking entail the utilization of physical power in order to inflict pain and control child behavior.  The mother parent is typically the primary spanker, perhaps due to the fact that the mother is usually with the children more frequently.  Additionally, young parental age and lower wages seem to predict spanking disciplinary action.  One source notes, that, “research…showed 70% of college-educated women spank their children” (Rochman).  Individuals who were spanked as children are in turn more likely to repeat the disciplinary behavior with their own children.  Spanking is believed to assist in controlling children while discouraging undesirable behavior and facilitating good behavior.

Some professionals argue that children who are spanked are more likely to misbehave in school, have behavioral problems and start using drugs.  I was spanked as a child and I received straight A’s through my educational experience, have never had behavior problems (even according to my parents), and have never used drugs.  Of course there is evidence supporting both sides of the argument.  The use of corporal punishment is a widely debated topic among parents and child development professionals.

As an effective form of discipline, spankings have been implemented since Biblical times.  It was not until more recently, in 1991, when Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff suggested that corporal punishment in the home could cause anti-socialism, increased child abuse, and violence among peers, that individuals began to question and reconsider spanking as a method of effective punishment.  Beating a kid is ineffective and cruel, but there is nothing wrong with a swat on the bum.  Unfortunately adults cannot reason with a three year old.  There is nothing more frustrating than seeing parents repeat themselves continually on the same issues when their kids are uncontrollable animals.  There is no reasoning with a difficult child who does not understand the implications of their behavior; sometimes parents need to establish dominance and exert their control.

Many modern professionals argue that spanking could lead to mental instability and damage.  However, research does not reveal mental decline.  Another problem with this claim is that nearly everyone over the age of thirty would be classified as a mental case if corporal punishment was truly mentally damaging.  Conversely, it cannot be repudiated that mental problems typically do arise in cases in which children are beaten.  However, there is an enormous dissimilarity between spanking and punishment and abusive behavior such as beating.  A beating is any action by a parent that is not a controlled smack on the butt or a short and quick slap on the hand.  There comes a time when spankings can and should cease.  The time to discontinue spankings varies from child to child, and is to be determined on an individual basis.  In many cases, corporal punishment should cease when a child is able to comprehend wrong behaviors and the implications of their actions.

In a recent visit with a friend, she described her most recent appointment to her two year old daughter’s doctor.  She explained that after the appointment, she was attempting to get her child ready to go home, but her little girl refused to cease playing with all of the neat and unfamiliar toys in the waiting room.  After a few minutes of struggle, the little girl turned to her mother and expressed that she was not going to leave the doctor’s office as she proceeded to hit her in the face.  At this point, my friend bent her daughter over her knee and gave her a quick whack on the bottom telling her that her behavior was inappropriate and she was not allowed to treat her mother in that way.  However, after noticing the scene, a nurse approached my friend and told her that if they witnessed her hit her child again that she would be reported to Child and Family Services.

Unfortunately, this situation is not that unfamiliar these days.  I have heard of parents in the same predicaments and I have likewise witnessed these circumstances with my own eyes.  One of the best places to see children running wild is at Wal-Mart.  During one of my most recent Wal-Mart outings, I observed a woman tell a man that she was going to report him for child abuse due to the fact that the man had grabbed his son’s arm and scolded him for taking off and running through the store.  Apparently the father had directed his attention to some items on the shelf and when he turned back around his son had taken off and the father had to be paged over the intercom to retrieve his wild child from the front of the store.

Whose right is it to tell a parent that they cannot spank their child or implement corporal punishment for misbehaving?  Corporal punishment is a family matter, and it is nobody’s concern how parents should rear and discipline their own kids.  I have no bad feelings toward my parents for occasionally spanking me.  Conversely, I thank them for keeping me in line and teaching me how to behave.  If my parents had not spanked me on occasion, I do not think I would have turned out to be the person that I am today.

Situations similar to the ones described above have resulted in parents to losing control of their kids out of the sheer fear that they will be punished for punishing their kids.  Of course nobody wants to lose their children or face Child Protective Services for disciplining their own kids.  Where is the line between beating and abusing children and allowing them to dominate and control the household without any parameters and boundaries?  I believe that that balance exists in corporal punishment and spanking.

I know individuals who have attempted modern and politically correct forms of disciplining their children to no avail.  A friend, for example, attempted the method of time outs and removing pleasures and rewards, even going as far as donating toys to charity if the situation warranted.  If certain methods do not result in better behavior then what else are parents supposed to do?

Court systems today, condemn parents for keeping their children from acting out and misbehaving.  Ironically, many judges in the courts and professionals involved in social work come from a generation in which spanking was the norm.  I find it disturbing that a court can condemn parents to jail if they do not enforce that their children attend school; however, the same courts will turn around and take the child away from the parents if they spank their kid for skipping school or misbehaving.  Parents are supposed to enforce rules in the home and establish boundaries.  How are parents to implement rules when they are not allowed to give their children the punishment that he or she requires for misbehaving?

A large part of the problem lies within the fact that the penalties for breaking the rules are not fearsome enough for children.  Previously, the primary structure of penalties involved children receiving spankings for misbehaving at home as well as in the school institutions; and as kids grew older, spankings were replaced with other consequences in order to deter undesirable behavior.  Children were spanked, adolescents were grounded, and adults were sentenced to jail for breaking the rules.  Today, kids tend to have little to no consequences for their behaviors.  Children get used to their consequences and they lose their impact.

Many of the same individuals that threaten to turn parents in for child abuse are the same ones whose children run wild.  They contemplate why jails are overcrowded with juveniles.  These things happen due to a lack of discipline.  When did it become everyone else’s business how parents raise and disciplines their children?

Studies conducted by Wendy Walsh (2002) suggest that spanking children, in severe circumstances, could lead to antisocial behavioral results in children.  However, spanking and abusing are completely dissimilar methods.  Spanking is discipline, whereas abuse is merely cruelty and mistreatment.  Other professionals suggest that corporal punishment offers children pain and in turn it may convince children to act in ways that inflict harm on others.  However, it is only when parents neglect to talk with their children regarding the reason for the punishment that these children turn around to imitate the same kinds of behaviors.  When parents discuss the misbehavior and reason for punishment with their children, there is no confusion and the child understands that misbehaving results in undesirable consequences.

Several studies show that the use of physical punishment results in more depression among children.  However, these results were the consequence of unjust and cruel beating in conjunction with unwelcoming and warm family environments.  The studies of Bryan and Freed (1982) reveal that college students who were corporally punished displayed higher levels of depression and increased negative social interactions.  Additional research has revealed that the authoritarian style of parenting which is controlling, harsh, and low in warmth produces children who are more aggressive and violent.  Authoritarian parenting style is very different from the occasional use of spankings in order to deter unwanted and undesirable misbehaving.

There are basically three different perspectives of corporal punishment.  The first view is pro-corporal punishment which correlates with the biblical perspective of “spare the rod and spoil the child.”  The next perspective is the anti-corporal punishment which suggests that corporal punishment and spanking is damaging to the child and that “violence begets violence.”  And the last viewpoint is that of conditional corporal punishment in which case suggests that spanking is not good or bad but instead dependent upon the conditions, circumstances and behaviors.  In most cases, a parent will identify with one perspective and stick with it.

Some individuals even go as far as to suggest that parents can use alternative forms of discipline, like reinforcement techniques, without the need for any kind of punishment at all.  This typically results in the kids we see running wild in Wal-Mart or slapping their parents in the doctor’s office.  Children should be embraced warmly, loved and reinforced for their positive behaviors, however, discipline and punishment is absolutely necessary when teaching right from wrong.

There is not substantial evidence suggesting that an occasional swat on the butt leads to emotional problems in life.  Instead, spanking helps to teach right from wrong while deterring children from misbehaving.  Spanking and the utilization of corporal punishment are in fact the most typical types of parental punishment today; however these methods are still widely controversial.  Time online magazine (2011) reveals that, “studies have found that up to 90% of all parents use corporal punishment” (Rochman).  Although parents should not abuse their children, there is nothing wrong with corporal punishment.

Works Cited

Aucoin, Katherine J., Paul J. Frick and S. Doug Bodin. “Corporal punishment and child adjustment.” Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (2006): 527–541. Print.

Bryan, J. W. and F. W. Freed. “Corporal punishment: Normative data and sociological and psychological correlates in a community college.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence (1982): 77−87. Print.

Gershoff, Elizabeth and Robert Larzelere. “Is Corporal Punishment an Effective Means of Discipline.” APA (2002). http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2002/06/spanking.aspx.

Rochman, Bonnie. “The First Real-Time Study of Parents Spanking Their Kids.” Time (2011). http://healthland.time.com/2011/06/28/would-you-record-yourself-spanking-your-kids/.

Walsh, Wendy. “Spankers and Nonspankers: Where They Get Information on Spanking.” Family Relations (2002): 81-88. Print.

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