My Swing Against the Anti-Spanking Movement

Posted Oct 4, 2005
Last Updated Mar 4, 2015

I come from a long line of spankers. We’re not as austere as Quakers, but I guess we’re part of a cult if you listen to 21st Century social workers’ propaganda. And with global movements such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child being ratified by numerous countries, we’re an endangered culture.

For many sentimentalists, this is a high moral issue. There are non-profit organizations, political organizations, websites and even T-shirts devoted to stopping me from spanking my son. You would think that I would move over to their side ASAP, since 1) Everyone wants to be on the winning side and; 2) I generally want to protect my son from being harmed. But I guess I am stubborn or stupid.

See, I am a little backwards. My parents raised me with all the same sweet phrases and warm loving openness that any other family does—the kind of stuff that the social workers say is important. But still I was a kid. One time I totally disregarded my mother and said some pretty nasty things to her. I think I was around ten years old. My father came in and carried me upstairs by my ear. And then he spoke to me through body language—a few good swings on the rear with a belt.

Guess what happened? In case you can’t figure it out, I’ll tell you what happened. I never once again in my entire life disrespected my mother. And, believe it or not, I still loved my father. And I knew that he loved me—partly because he told me so after the disciplining with a hug and fatherly advice—but mostly because he always respected me and expected much from me. Luckily, I was a quick learner and did not have many run-ins with the belt.

The social workers are shaking their heads now, saying things like "Definitely disassociated denial syndrome” and "abused child syndrome” and "suppressed memories from excessive trauma” and all that crap.

Yes, I still carry on the tradition and fine art of spanking. And I think I do a pretty good job at it. But before you come to my house with torches and a lynch mob, let me say a few last words.

I spanked my son when he was a toddler. So I must be an evil man. I spanked him any time he disobeyed me in the toddler stage and I didn't think he would understand words--especially if the issue was major enough. And after every spanking, I hugged him and let him know that I loved him. Maybe I’m a paranoid schizophrenic? No… somewhere along my education I was impressed with the wisdom to express love after discipline.

Now my son is up to my shoulders, gets great marks in school, is a team captain on his football team and impresses everyone around him. He’s intelligent, warm, mature, friendly and creative. A social worker would be amazed. A social worker would say in wide-eyed amazement, "I can’t believe he turned out so well in spite of all the physical punishment.”

"Ahhh….” I would say to the social worker, "That is where you have it wrong. I set a standard very young for my son—disobey and you get punished. Since he learned that at the age of two, I don’t have to spank him anymore.” I’ve only had to spank him a couple times in the last several years.

"You monster, Mr. Olson. How could you spank such a sweet young man?”

"Simply,” I would say. "Because I love him with all my heart. I would rather he learns the ins-and-outs of crime and punishment, action and consequence, from me, his father—a man who loves him tenderly—than the cold, unloving reality of society.”

"You are a troglodyte, Mr. Olson, a pure and simple brute.”

"Perhaps you are right. But at least I’m not screaming for my son to do his homework. At least adults in the neighborhood smile when my son comes up to them instead of scorn. I know I can expect great things from my son. He will go far in his life. Maybe I am a troglodyte, but I am more a proud parent than anything else.”

"We’ll see about that! Maybe I should report you to children’s services!”

"For what?”

"You are a danger to your son!”

"How is that?”

"You would use physical violence—which only teaches your son more violence. You are the cause for the violence in the world today, Mr. Olson. If parents would stop spanking their kids, the kids will learn to express their more natural loving side. You are a menace!”

"That’s funny. I know of children whose parents refuse to spank their kids. Those kids are unruly, disrespectful—and very violent.”

"Well at least they don’t learn it from their parents.”

"Well you’re right in a way… since those kids aren’t learning much of anything from their parents.”

The social worker would look at me in disgust.

Then I would say, "Spanking a kid does not teach him to be violent. Instead, it teaches him that there are negative results from inappropriate behavior. In a natural environment, a child punching another child invokes a return punch—which is a naturally educational experience. Smart parents don’t want their children to get into fistfights to learn lessons about cause and effect—but still need to teach the same lessons in a controlled environment.”

"Well who’s to say that you will be controlled,” might sneer the social worker.

"Well, you have me there. I cannot speak for the other parents of this world, but in my view corporal punishment is simply a tool. My own love is a controlling factor. The fact is, I actually feel horrible when I have to spank my son. I wish I never had to do it…”

A shimmer of hope might appear in the social worker’s eyes. "You don’t have to spank your son, Mr. Olson. You only choose to.”

Then the social worker might pull out a big pile of pamphlets and brochures with the latest parenting techniques that are all the rave these days in optimizing temper tantrums, increasing disrespect and sending the next generation straight into the slammer or sub-standard social positions.

I would quickly decline these documents so that I could go play a game with my son or go on a family walk with the kids and dog or go play some sports or read to the kids.

And this social worker would be totally baffled, upset and prepared to do her report on what a horrible father I must be. She starts dreaming of ways to get my son out of the house and wonders if there is any room left in the local foster system.

While this little essay has been satirical to a degree, the truth is that it is an accurate portrayal of the environment parents must work these days. Imagine this scenario: your pre-teen daughter gets in your face and starts screaming at the top of her lungs that she doesn’t have to listen to a single thing you tell her. At this point you probably realize you’ve made some mistakes along the way (like never disciplining her while she was growing up) and now you are reaping your rewards. So you smack her rear with a spatula. It leaves a mark on her leg. Suddenly, the girl realizes that you mean business and she listens a little and is more manageable. Now you can talk to her as a mother and get to the bottom of things—teaching her that disrespect will not be tolerated and that she can and should talk to you in a loving, respectful manner.

You are happy that you are making strides as an assertive parent. You say to yourself, "Wow, maybe I can teach her to be a well adjusted teenage girl if I teach her to be respectful.” Things are looking good.

Then there’s a knock at the door and a woman with a clipboard is standing there. She orders everyone to leave your house (not in a nice fashion) because she needs to talk to you about the bruise you left on your child. The woman tells you that the school reported a large bruise that was lumped up and looks nasty. Terror fills you! This lady might take your children away!

This scenario just happened with someone close to me. We were very lucky in two regards—one, her child was not actually abused. Two, this particular social worker was very perceptive, and she realized that the mark on the leg was a far cry from anything that could be labeled as abuse. In fact, this woman was shocked that the school had even reported the mark, and she took a photo of it because it was so faint and so unnoticeable that she had to show it to her coworkers. On that same day, I saw the mark, and I had to have the girl literally point it out to me because it was not visible.

I was in disbelief. And I too panicked—hell, my son gets bruises on a daily bases from football practice. Am I going to get someone at the door threatening to take my son away because I let him play football? Certainly, his bruises are much more prolific and visible than hers!

Children have rights. No child should be abused. That means that you should never punch your kids, cut them, burn them, break bones, give them black eyes, or physically affect them in such a way as to send them to the hospital. Parents that abuse their children should not be in the parent role.

But that group of society that sees corporal punishment as an equivalent to abuse is a grossly misled, anti-social group. I say anti-social in spite of their "social” agendas because my experience as a human being tells me that undisciplined kids are, generally speaking, anti-social and/or self-absorbed kids. Corporal punishment is a highly effective tool in teaching kids about their boundaries and the rights of others.

This anti-parent movement of the no-spanking side is a threat to parents who love their children and want to raise their kids well. I know this for fact, since one overzealous school counselor has scared someone I know so much that she is afraid to enforce law and order in her own home with her own kids. This idiotic school counselor has now put a ball-and-chain on the leg of a mother who was just beginning to run with the ball on her family team.

You cannot be an effective parent if you see your role as a one-sided system of all-love or all-discipline. Being a good parent requires you to understand that love and discipline are essential. There really is truth to the proverb about sparing the rod; you leave a large segment of your child’s education empty if you do not teach him discipline: while you probably love him—you are also unwittingly and unfairly punishing him.

Addendum (2015):

This article has received many comments over the years. Although my basic stance hasn't really changed much, my strong feelings on the issue have largely waned. Generally speaking, I think all parent should try to find the softest form of discipline for any scenario and to keep affection, education and love as the motive and mentor for all of parenting and all situations. Some people are very passionate on one side or the other on this issue; I think that the reality is that we are very wide-ranging species and that it is really hard to make all purpose rules on such a varied set of subjects. The more great parents that can find ways to raise great children without physical discipline, the better; that physical dicipline is still needed in many situations for the fastest result, I don't doubt.

When I first wrote this article I was deep in the throes of adapting to a mixed-family environment where some of the children had been given zero discipline (of any kind) for their entire lives. It flavored my take on the topic. And it led my to feel more fervent on the side of harsher discipline as I was seeing the challenges of parenting children that had never heard the word "No."

The fact is that I rarely spank(ed) any of my children. It happened on occassion. I certainly don't feel bad about those times. But as I get older and have more experience as a parent, I find less need for it overall.

For my part, I feel less inclined to label some tactic/technique as necessary or not at this point in my life. For those who were abused as children and have very strong feelings on the topic, I wish that you had experienced a kinder upbringing. I know that despite the assumptions of many who feel passionate against spanking, I was always a very happy child and adult. People have applied their own life's interpretation on me (saying syndrome A, B or C) because I was spanked but never felt abused. In fact, I was always close to my parents, and miss them now. I know my parents spanked me... but only the time mentioned above even sticks out because I remember how it directly influenced me in terms of showing respect to my mother. Spanking simply was not a major part of my childhood, and I never feared my parent.

I just knew there were boundaries that I could not cross because there was a consequence. For some consequences that was a spanking. It's very similar how there are some boundaries in adult life where the consequences of transgression are simply unpleasant. In my view, that is all this is. It's up to each parent and each society to figure out what those boundaries and consequences are; the real moral dilemma there is how philosophical the parent or society is. I think that the wiser we get the less we will demand people follow our opinion, but the more we ask people why they have their own opinions.

Extra Reading


No HTML Tags are permitted.

PD Deverit

Aug 7, 2009

Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

Child buttock-battering for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

I think the reason why television shows like "Supernanny" and "Dr. Phil" are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

There are several reasons why child buttock-battering isn't a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

Plain Talk About Spanking

by Jordan Riak,

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children

by Tom Johnson


by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research.

Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child buttock-battering isn't a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics,

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,

Center For Effective Discipline,

PsycHealth Ltd Behavioral Health Professionals

Churches' Network For Non-Violence,

Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,

Parenting In Jesus' Footsteps,

Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

Countries where child buttock-battering is prohibited by law:

Sweden, Finland, Norway, Austria, Cyprus, Italy, Denmark, Latvia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Iceland, Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Uruguay, Venezuela, Chile, Spain, Costa Rica, Republic of Moldova, and more in process.

In fact, the US was the only UN member who did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The US also has the highest incarceration rate. The US states with the highest crime rates also have the highest child corporal punishment rates (in schools, etc). Child buttock-battering doesn't instill virtue.

Meen Rivers

Dec 3, 2007

Only sick, sadistic megalomaniacs condone spanking. It is not only physical abuse, it is sexual abuse. And please do not involve Christianity in all of this, the are many Christians out there who actually love their children and take their time to adequately educate and love their children, and do not resort to damaging, reactive parenting. I pity the abused children of spankers. Please give them up for adoption to loving parents, or don't have them at all if you can't cope with them in a civilized manner.

matthew jones

Apr 27, 2009

he is absolutely right. me and most all of my friends and relatives were children who were governed by corporal punishment and look at us now, a naval corpsman, a biomedical engineer, a premed student(myself), a journalist and a nurse. We love our parents with all our hearts and understand exactly why they took the actions that they did, not look at them like tyrannical dictators that got off on giving us a good whuppin' for deliberately lying, stealing, or behaving insanely. some people are just too soft man i swear.


Mar 4, 2015

Obviously no one taught you your own worth, or that hitting was wrong, and especially for children. You love your parents because they ARE your parents and you can't see past that, and probably have Stockholm's Syndrome.

I am 60 yrs old, and I DID and DO look at my parents as 'tyranical monsters' , as abusive. They lost my love, respect and trust from the first time they hit me. They never got it back. Hitting IS abuse and it is not necessary nor right. I disciplined our two children, ie taught them, right from wrong without ever hitting them. Discipline means to teach .. not to hit. They too now are great, kind and gentle adults, with children of their own whom are not hit but all know that hitting is wrong, save in the case of self defence or that of another.

Try taking a leaf out of Sweden's book and learning a few facts. They banned hitting children over 3 decades ago and now they have the lowest rates of abuse and violence ever, so much so they are closing prisons, whereas the States has the highest amount of people in jail and the highest number of prisons in the world. It also is the only country bar Somalia NOT to sign for the Rights of a Child by the UN. It is legal to spank aka hit a child in every single state, and legal to hit a child with a weapon aka a paddle made from wood in 19 States. In those 19 States by law, teachers and schools are safe from prosecution by parents of a child who has to go to ER, or who is hit and permanently injured. I think that is disgusting.

Comment ignored.

Ashley Spring

Oct 6, 2007

I thank that spanking my children is ok as long as I dont beat them. They need to know that I am the boss and that they need to respect their elders. When they are older they will be able to know right from wrong. I come from afamily that spanks. My parents taught me many things. There are times that I think I would have considered them as beating me. I do not beat my children. When I spank my children I then sit them down and tell them why I spanked them. Ans sometimes I tell them before I spank them so they understand they can not direspect thier elders.

Comment ignored.

Balni Egger

Sep 24, 2007

Maybe spanking "worked" for you, but the question is HOW it "made things better". When your father beat you with his belt, what exactly happened to you? Did you understand how your mother felt and how hurt she was? or did you just want to avoid another punishment and that was the reason you appologized? How can pain make anybody suddenly be sorry if they weren't sorry before? It is just causing someone pain so he will do as he is told, nothing more. There is no "reasonable spanking" for children. Surely your parents argued sometimes. So I am almost sure your father said mean things in anger. would your mother then go and spank HIM? i doubt this. What sense does it make to punish kids for the mistakes they make.

mistakes are what makes us humans. everybody makes mistakes or loses control sometimes.

in fact those people who don't realise their mistakes on their own account really do this world harm. mistakes are there to learn from them, but it's normal that they happen.

Kevin Gardner

Aug 12, 2007

You should never ever spank a child. It is considered child abuse

Samantha More

Apr 20, 2007

Your expectations of your son in toddlerhood to obey you every time was way too demanding of a small child. You say that your son has turned out fine. In your parental eyes that may be true(parents want to see this.) You see the outside of your son when your are around but not when you are not around and you don't see his inner world. Children can put on great masks for their parents and often do. What lurkes inside can be a whole different story. The way children treat animals and other people whom they perceive as more vulnerable than them when their parents are not around would suprise you tremendously. Most children who do mistreat animals or other children either have been spanked or are being spanked. Their natural tendency is to find a way to express the violent power that was expressed to them. Add to this the whole sexual side effects of spanking (which your child will never discuss with you,) and you have problems that you are not and may never be aware of until it is too late.

If most of Europe, Croatia, Lativia, Cyprus, Japan, Israel, Ice-land and numerous other countries can raise their children without laying a hand on them, then why can't our country? When was the last time that you heard of the violent problems in these countries that we suffer from here every day?

A parent who willfully inflicts physical, emotional or mental pain on their child cannot protect them from greater pain. Children who suffer pain directly from a parent have already suffered great pain. There is no greater pain than that which comes from a parent.

lacy smith

Jan 24, 2007

I have to say all that has been said is correct I will defend myself any day after I have spanked my children. I have three and all very different two had to be spanked, third one very seldom

I have two girls and a boy he has ADAH very badly. Today they all come to us Mom and Dad and thank us for how they have been raised and seeing the way some children act and treat the parents with no respect

I just hope that all our love and hard work to raise three very well liked, well respected young adults has been understood and I feel it has been when they tell me and thier Dad thanks and we love you

and thier children will be treated with the same actions .....I feel the law is out of control on many issues. Putting God back where he needs to be would be of great service to everyone.The christian believing adults that made this great nation took all from the bible....I better quit that is another issue


'mAngelique Lovell

Nov 16, 2006

Love this article! I'm currently doing a college school paper on why spanking is okay and I've had a very hard time finding people who have articles listed in favor of it. Yet, everyone I talk to and every single person in my class is not against a spanking once in awhile when needed.

Kat F

Oct 27, 2006

I personally think what he's saying is not abuse. He loves his children and despite what other people may think. Spanking does work for children and it is not child abuse.

Dennis LaMontagne

Oct 10, 2006

Another child abuser has his inane say. Sad and pathetic.

Matt Copeland

Sep 17, 2006

Spanking is a form of sexual abuse. The Buttocks is an erogenous zone of the body, and the same nevres and blood vessels connected to the sex organs are connected to the Buttocks. When a child is spanked on the bottom it stimulates those nerves and sends blood rushing to the buttocks area; this rush of blood to the buttocks can also rush through the same vessels to the sex organs where sexual arosal can occur both throught the rush of blood to the sex organ, and through the stimulation of the nerves....children will be unconcious of this sexual stimulation because of the horrible pain they are recieving; but they could eventually be at risk of developing an unconcious association between spanking and sex...this alone should make Sapnking an abusive act

Shawn Olson

Sep 17, 2006

I doubt anything I could say would have any possitive affect on your stance. You can associate anything to sex... so banning spanking because it can somehow get associated to sexual behavior is simply ridiculous. The act of spanking a child is non-sexual for similar reasons that kissing your child in a paternal way is non-sexual.

'mAngelique Lovell

Nov 16, 2006

You need to do more research, you are one very sick individual!! That is like saying that because alcohol kills brain cells that if any one takes a sip they'll be braindead..... Come on!

hartwell karen

Sep 22, 2009

There is nothing sexual about spanking a child's behind when they have been disobedient. It is obvious that someone has abused you or you have some problem with your sexuality. Do you have any children ? If so , how do you punish them? I agree that they should not be spanked for everything they do . I do believe in talking to them first , however, when that does not work it is time for other means of punishment. Do you think that it is a sexual act when a teacher has to paddle a child ?
Angry Teapot Level Design Awards

Newsletter Subscription