3 Strikes: The Word on Corporal Punishment

Apparently, the word is out that spanking your kids is bad. One doctor quoted in the linked article went so far as to say, ‘there is no benefit to spanking.’ This statement goes against all the anecdotal evidence I have of spanking being a helpful deterrent to bad behavior. Granted, I’m not a pediatrician and don’t have the background to speak on the developmental effects of corporal punishment, but I do read and can talk about the effects this article had on me.

#1: “Within a few minutes, children are often back to their original behavior. It certainly doesn’t teach children self-regulation,”

Spanking is not known to cure ‘childish tendencies’. Children often have to have lessons repeated to them over the course of the day, week, year and, in general, childhood for them to sink in. Making it even more challenging is that they will ignore verbal commands and demands and instead, pay close attention to, and follow, the examples around them.

#2: “Parents who hit their children often have serious problems of their own.”

Yes, most adults, whether they hit or not, will have to deal with serious problems. What exactly is meant by ‘serious problems’? Unemployment or depression? Stress of being the sole wage earner or a drinking problem? Does it follow that having problems mean you will spank your child? The implication in the statement is not only aggravating, but barely supported. The individual quoted went on to reference a small report (no details given) that suggested parents who had a history of trauma are more likely to spank. Which means that the 70% of parents (from a poll in the article) who agreed with the statement that ‘spanking is necessary to discipline a child’ have all kinds of major mental health issues and what of those of us raised by the 84% who agreed with the statement in 1986?

#3: ‘The American Psychological Association says positive reinforcement is more effective than spanking.’

Ok, so where are the studies to back up that claim? Can we get numbers on the percentage of children that grow up well-balanced after the sole use of these techniques? How quickly are children able to self regulate after the use of positive reinforcement? ‘

All the studies done on spanking, I would have thought they would have done some on the suggested alternatives and maybe they have, but none were mentioned. In general, there’s a reason why the vast majority of Americans still spank…because it works.


I listened, read and watched the media barrage after Kate Gosselin and her 13-year old twins, Mady and Cara, were interviewed on the Today show and I guess I must’ve been watching something else. Did I think Mady’s slow answers and Cara’s non-answers humiliated their mom? Yes. Did I think that Kate snapping her fingers at Mady and telling her to, ‘use her words,’ was inappropriate? Absolutely, and in hindsight, all of them may regret their actions, but I also think (as a former fan of Jon and Kate Plus Eight) that Cara is not the most talkative child, which might be why Kate focused on Mady speaking so much. Were we watching evidence of the ‘damage,’ as Samantha Guthrie (of the Today show) put it, from years of being in the spotlight or simply two teenagers acting like, well, teenagers?

I felt terrible for Kate, for the way she was being vilified and the for the way Guthrie implied that her children were being harmed by her actions. What’s curious to me is that there’s all this talk of Kate pushing her kids to be in the spotlight, but there was no talk of upcoming TV opportunities or the kids signing with agencies or management. I don’t know what’s going on in the Gosselin household, but I do know that Kate is the primary caregiver and custodian of eight children, none of whom we hear or read about in the press, acting up in school or being all-around terrors. Everyone’s talking about her People cover and her apparent hunger for fame, but no one’s talking about the likely impetus for her doing the cover story: Jon’s exclusive with InTouch Weekly about their children living in a ‘House of Horrors,’ with a pissed-off looking Kate on the front page.

The minute Jon files for custody, maybe I’ll believe that his concerns are genuine; or if Child Services comes a-knockin,’ I’ll reconsider, but until then, Kate Gosselin is a stand up mother who is dealing with tremendous pressure from outsiders, which can crack even the steeliest of individuals. It’s a shame that a five-minute moment on TV has somehow come to define her as a parent. If TV can make or break a reputation, then I submit the family’s last appearance on Celebrity Wife Swap (ok, a bit ironic, I know): Kate runs their home like a well-oiled machine, maybe strict, but her children appeared disciplined and thrived under the structure and what was most touching was how much she loves being a mom; she takes it seriously and it’s the primary description that she has for herself. When she was reunited with her children after the swap, you could see that the love in this family was reciprocal and effusive.