Correction, abuse.

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A Spanking Good Time. 1891, stereograph, Harper Stereograph Collection, Boston Public Library, Print Department. 06_11_004368.

“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.”

The Holy Bible: new international version. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1982.

With a clear majority of the western world baring some form of Christian heritage, it’s undeniable that this portion of scripture lies at the root of society’s glazing over when it comes to the abuse of children.  Whether misunderstood or simply ill applied,  the doctrine of “spare the rod, spoil the child” not only directs parents to physically correct their children but ultimately validates it with God’s seal of approval.

There are more sensible interpretations of the proverb suggesting that the rod refers to corresponding consequences rather than a physical instrument of correction.  Either way, the debate as to whether or not spanking is to be considered abuse rages on.

On the one hand, the advocates of disciplinary spanking by caregivers believe that spanking should be properly understood and administered, spanking is most effective as a deterrent to undesirable behavior for younger preschoolers (but never for infants). (Pingleton)  Which seems rational on the surface but if one accounts for varying personalities, levels of understanding and fluctuating emotional states, the scope for “unintended” abuse increases as control diminishes.

On the other hand, the critics of spanking insist that any form of physical correction is in fact abuse.  While this standpoint agrees with my sensibilities, I do wonder about what humanity has lost and gained over the last few decades in terms of our civility toward one another and whether or not corporal punishment within the home has much to do with it.


Works Cited

A Spanking Good Time. 1891, stereograph, Harper Stereograph Collection, Boston Public

Library, Print Department. 06_11_004368.

Pingleton, Jared. “Spanking Can Be an Appropriate Form of Child Discipline”, Time, 17

Sep 2014, time.com/3387226/spanking-can-be-an-appropriate-form-of-child-discipline/

The Holy Bible: new international version. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1982.

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