Spanking: Was it discipline or actually abuse?

Janet Wilson, 62, recalls her childhood as a tough moment in her life. “When I was a young child, my

Janet Wilson, 62, recalls her childhood as a tough moment in her life. “When I was a young child, my mom spanked me a lot.”

“I would get a spank for every plate I broke, every time I left the windows open and it rained, and every time I tried to join in adult conversations.”

“My mom would either pinch me on my thighs or spank me on my bum with a wooden spoon,” confessed Janet.

Fifty years into the future, she believes that all the spanking and pinching was a way to shape her to be a “decent” person.

“Yes, it hurt at the time. But look at me today, I’m successful, very organised and disciplined, and I think that had I not endured all that physical hurt, I would’ve turned out to be a completely different person – a spoilt brat,” said Janet.

“Look at the young millennials now; it’s proof that we need to start hitting our kids again.”

Although Janet believed that spanking did more good than harm to her, studies shows physical punishment has a range of health and social consequences and is not an effective form of discipline.

Studies have revealed that those who experienced slapping or hitting in childhood is associated with depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders later in life.

Some of the specific findings say that those who experienced slapping or hitting in childhood is associated with depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse or dependence, and personality disorders later in life. And they are also associated with a higher incidence of health conditions in adulthood, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and arthritis. Basically, experts say that there is no evidence that physical punishment improves child development and health.

Today, whilst some people do still smack their kids, no one is allowed to use extreme force to children. It is not against the law for parents to use physical punishment, such as a smack but if parents use more force than is necessary, could cause long term harm or hits their head or neck in a harmful way, this could be against the law.

Some people think that they should be allowed to discipline their kids how they want. They also believe that the younger generation are less hardworking, respectful and disciplined because they didn’t experience any form of physical punishment.

Family dynamics are different than what it used to be.

Deborah Marshall, 67, disagrees, “After growing up with parents who basically hit me on a daily basis, I promised myself that I wouldn’t do the same thing to my own kids. And I didn’t. I love my children and although I notice that they just don’t have that same level of respect for older people compared to those days, I still think my children turned out to be very good people. They probably don’t serve me like I did my parents but they are much closer to me than I could have ever been with my own parents,” said Deborah.


Were you spanked as a child? Do you think spanking children is right?

  1. Rosemary Shearer  

    A smack now and again I don’t think will do any harm. It depends what the reason is for doing so. These days there is to much talking with children & explaining, & discipline has gone out the door. Some parents try to be their children’s friend, & behaviour especially in public is abominable. Children have to know that you are the PARENT and respect their parents.

    • Carol Smyth  

      You don’t have to smack to set boundaries and you don’t have to go into long explanations to set standards of behaviour. You set the boundaries and model them to your kids. You stick firmly to your values and make sure you are consistent with non-physical consequences. You mean what you say. You model kindness, consideration and so on towards everyone and expect these from your children.

  2. Lyn Williams  

    Only if the child is being deliberately defiant, exhibiting behaviour the child knows well is wrong, and refusing to stop. Then there must be a warning first. ONE quick smack on the upper thigh is all that is needed and an instant change in attitude is guaranteed. Children will push the boundaries and will test the parent to see how far they can go. In case of extreme behaviour it doesn’t hurt for them to find out

  3. Karen  

    If I was pushed to the point I needed to smack my children or grandchildren then I feel they deserved it. They obviously ignored all warnings and opportunities to behave or do as they were told. And god knows they were given plenty. What I don’t like and really pushes my buttons is when a grandchild stands and looks me in the eye and says ” I will report you for abuse if you hit me”. My response ” Go ahead because you are getting a smack either way”

  4. Frank  

    a friend with an ADHD boy who was always getting into trouble – throwing rocks at passing cars, etc. – one day she found his showing his little sister how to pour water over an electric fan while it was running – fearing for his life, she smacked him with the nearest object.

    Next day the young idiot went to school and proudly showed off his bruises – shortly thereafter the child protection police knocked on her door, took him away from his mother – to a refuge home for 6 months – where he got into worse trouble – and ended up living on the streets for another 18 months – lovely.

    I was asked to prepare an affidavit to declare that I believed she was actually a loving mother and not the abused she was assumed to be by the first-ever bruises on his skin.

    I still reckon – if your child is not listening to you in a life-threatening situation, get his attention any way you can.

    • I must admit that I smacked my son at an early age, once, when he was reaching up to pull on a saucepan full of hot water on a stove. Immediare action was required to stop him from getting burned, and a smack on the bum had a more immediate reaction than any amount of counselling would have done. He asked “why?”, so I told him. He was quite satisfied with that, did not cry, problem solved.

  5. Geoff  

    I think the only way that a child is spanked is on the bottom and never hit or slapped. That was the way I was disciplined but it hardly ever happened unless I did something really bad.They just taught me respect and that seemed to work.

  6. Barbara Hawkins  

    DR. These days call a child. Who plays up has ADHD and fills them up with pills.the child then knows that they can do what they want to do my grandson told my son who was ill to do something and his reply was get off your fat ars and do it yourself which he could not do so this is the future generation that we are raising. I was smacked when I was young and it made me think twice before I did it again.

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