I teach at a Title 1 (high poverty) school. Children talk about spanking. Parents talk about spanking. The teachers talk about spanking all the time as the ultimate “answer” to unruly children. I listen to this almost on a daily basis, wondering what is right. The research in this article support my personal philosophy regarding spanking. Yes, I was spanked once or twice as a child. Yes, the fear of spanking kept me in line, but at what cost? I certainly was not abused nor was I taught strategies to change my behavior. I will say that the fear of doing wrong stayed with me for years and years. As a parent I can not recall ever spanking my children. However, I was told to spank my son often. When his behaviors become more troubling I did wonder if my stance on not spanking was correct or not. Spanking DOES typical stop the behavior at least for the short term. For the adult, it must feel satisfying at the moment. I guess what shocks me the most is how many teachers talk about the lack of spanking as the reason children today are unruly. I personally don’t think spanking or the lack thereof is the cause of this problem. I do agree that disrespect is rampant. Parents often are not teaching their children how to properly respect adults. Teaching these skills take time, LOTS of time, especially if it is not being reinforced at home. We as educators are limited, but is spanking really the answer? The 50 year study from Elizabeth Gershoff studied over 160,000 children and found children how were spanked had several negative consequences.
I certainly am not the expert in this field. I do not claim to have any answers. I am curious what others have experienced. I continue to believe that spanking is not an effective method to shape behavior. I just wish that my fellow educators would find another solution for the “discipline-challenged” student.