Is Hitting Your Children Going To Do Them Any Harm?

When I was a kid if I did something wrong I would get hit for it. That trend was starting to go out of fashion, but unfortunately, in my formative years, I was hit across the backside, the legs and once across the face. To be fair I may have deserved that one. I was also hit with a hairbrush, a belt and a slipper, my brother who was a pain in the backside got the cane a couple of times too.

Societal views

In this day and age, I had assumed that by-in-large views had changed on hitting children. I assumed the consensus was that it wasn’t cool. A recent Facebook post seems to suggest otherwise. I trolled through the post with interest.

Everyone’s a critic

The post read something like this:

I saw a mother with a child who was throwing a temper tantrum in the supermarket today. I praised her for keeping steadfast under so much pressure and told her how her actions would result in her raising a fine young adult. Her response was to give into the child. Not only that but when the child complained that I had said no to her she proceeded to lecture me for criticising her child by pointing out that saying no to a child can be harmful.”

Two sides to the story

On one side of the story, you could understand the mother getting irritated. As a father myself I know how irksome it can be when you are trying to go about your business, trying to muddle through and everybody and their dog has an opinion.
On the other hand, you have to feel a little sorry for the original poster who it would seem got a mouthful of verbal abuse for his efforts to try and help a mother feel better about her screaming child.

The replies

What I didn’t expect was for the comments on this post to descend into a pro-corporal punishment thread. I tend to be friends with a mostly liberal bunch and corporal punishment is very traditional and not very progressive. So this surprised me. Among the comments made were “spare the rod, spoil the child”. And various comments about how adults in our society that were raised without getting a good slap were usually not particularly great people.

Shades of grey

If only it were as simple as that. If only the forms of punishment you were dealt as a child were the only thing that made the difference between you being a good or bad person. It is far more nuanced than that. Every little interaction we have shapes us into the adults that we are. Sure some things have a bigger impact than others but there are no studies that suggest where corporal punishment is used adults turn out better. In fact, the studies indicate something far different

Effects of punishment

The effects of this type of treatment can be pretty varied. There are strong links between being smacked as a child and mental health issues. The bond between parents and children will usually not be as strong. In most cases the episodes of abuse become increasingly severe. There is also the chances of the child becoming violent themselves. As a parent, it is key to be a role model and in cases where a child has been smacked at home the likelihood of them showing violent tendencies increases exponentially and these can show from as young as just two years old. Of course, there will always be those that favour a physical approach, but it doesn’t seem to work and ultimately it just seems that it is young people that really suffer.

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