My post last week about a woman hitting my daughter in the face with a rolled-up newspaper provoked a lot of thoughts from you, my dear readers. Thanks for sharing your experiences and insights.

This led me to do some thinking (I know – a dangerous occupation!) about whether parents should have the right or not to spank their own kids  and whether this should be allowed in schools.

You can probably guess where I stand – right? I’m against it. Full stop.

I  notice, though, that this is not the case in many countries.


Spanking kids in the home is widely approved in the States: all 50 states allow it, although spanking kids in school is banned in some states (the blue ones). So, here it is widely accepted and perhaps more of a norm.

In Europe, the story is slightly different. Corporal punishment is banned outright in many countries (the green countries), whereas a few (the blue ones) allow spanking in the home but not at school. The red countries show you where spanking is not banned at all.


I’m glad to say that Sweden was long in the forefront (in fact, it was the first country) when it came to banning spanking. Corporal punishment at school was banned back in 1958 and in 1966, parents no longer had the right to spank their kids either.

What the Swedes realized early on was that punishing kids by hitting them was not more effective than a minute’s time-out or a scolding.

Kids who get spanked may well behave themselves out of fear, but those who don’t get hit, learn their lessons out of respect and love.

In the words of Bertrand Russell:

I found one day in school a boy of medium size ill-treating a smaller boy. I expostulated, but he replied: ‘The bigs hit me, so I hit the babies; that’s fair.’ In these words he epitomized the history of the human race.

29 thoughts on “Spanking

  1. France on the map might look as though corporal punishment in schools is banned but i can tell you from speaking to parents here that it is not like that at all. Teachers slap, cane and pull ears.

    I’ve been in a restaurant here and quite a few times seen parents slap their children. I’ve got no kids but I’m sure if I had I would be amongst those parents who do slap when there is a good reason.


  2. In Asia, it’s common to spank kids…at home and at school. I can’t tell you how many times I got beat up by the teachers ’cause I didn’t have good grade. The teachers used to punish the whole class by all kinds of creative methods…

    And parents are allowed to beat their kids…they actually think by beating them the kids will learn their lessons. I have cruel memories of my beatings engraved in my mind…


  3. I live in France and my wife is French but I’m completely against spanking and have never hit my children (well, only in self defence). As far as I know, no teacher has hit my kids either or there would be hell to pay.

    I’m of a generation when we kids were thrashed and caned and slapped by teachers as a matter of course. At Leeds Boys Junior Grammar School we were beaten with a wooden paddle (specially made) that was called The Bat. Barbaric indeed to administer six whacks with this torture instrument to an eight-year-old. I was hardened to it but always believed it was wrong. And it never worked: some kids would be beaten once or twice a week and still got up to mischief. I once got six of the best for flicking a bit of paper at the boy next to me.

    I then went to a public school where one teacher was banned (not sacked or prosecuted) from beating boys because he’d damaged a boy’s spine during a particularly rigorous thrashing.


  4. I can count on one hand the number of times I was smacked by my parents when I was growing up. It was only ever in extreme circumstances and I was always aware of how serious my actions were when I got smacked. They were never hard but the shock of them was enough to make sure I didn’t do whatever it was I had done again!!

    I’d like to think that I wouldn’t use any kind of violence if I had children but till I’m in that situation I just don’t know!!

    C x


  5. At the risk of alienating you even before getting to know you, let me confess that I’ve spanked both my kids more often than I care to remember. It was the preferred method of discipline growing up, and I did not see anything wrong with it.

    Till I realised a few months back that spanking was not having the desired result either, so I stopped. Now, no matter what the kids do, I don’t spank, and they respect me for it, and actually behave better.

    But even when I did spank them, I had strict boundaries on who could and who could not spank. Only someone who also demonstrated physical affection was allowed to do so. And definitely NOT a total stranger.


  6. Great summary of information and compelling argument against physical violence. I am totally against beating or severe physical punishment. But I still think having a spanking waiting for you after a known and deliberate transgression can be good for you. Time outs don’t always cut it. I went to a boarding school where for really bad stuff you could get swats. I never got one but also didn’t feel like anyone was traumatized by it. It was more like taking the medicine you deserved. I don’t spank my kids but I’m not totally against it, either. And honestly, I know some kids who are raised in loving respectfulness and all that and whenever I’m around them I find myself thinking what they need is a good spanking.


  7. I definitely think that spanking should be done by anyone but the parents. I have been given that right by a few parents when I babysit their children, but I wouldn’t do it.

    However, I do think that there is a role for spanking in discipline, if it’s done correctly. Much of what we think of spanking is done incorrectly: done in the heat of the moment in anger. I don’t agree with that, but I also don’t think that spanking has to be that way. If a parent has first taken care of their sinful reactions, they can clear the way to train their child through spanking. The parent can explain clearly why they are spanking the child, let them know that it hurts the parent as well but they are doing it for the child’s good, spank them, hug them, and all will be better for it.

    This is not beating….beating should never be allowed by anyone.


  8. We were spanked when we were kids, and thank goodness that practice has stopped mostly here in Canada.

    Actually if you saw a child being spanked in public there would be a massive outcry. Everyone is well aware how awful it is.



  9. I used to work for DCFS and I still make a lot of calls to CPS with my current job, and the law is pretty clear. You can hit and spank kids if you don’t leave a mark, is basically what it comes down to.


  10. I have spanked my kids and wish I hadn’t. But sometimes they need a short sharp to pull their minds back to it. However, I now do not wish to and very rarely will.
    However I think there is a place for spanking by parents at home, never by someone else and defintely not by a teacher.
    I have a friend who is a health visitor and she reads statistics and reports. You may say that Sweden was the first to introduce the ban, but there are reported statistics to show it STILL happens there – and possibly even worse than England – because it is behind closed doors.


    1. I’m sure it happens, but not very much. Swedes are very soft-spoken on the whole and do not even shout at their kids in supermarkets as we tend to in the UK.


  11. I don’t think you can solve ANY problem with violence. On the contrary though, there are many parents who think if they can’t spank their kids they can’t get their attention- bullshit. Parents have the right to demand respect and get it..but respect must be earned and you can’t respect anyone who uses violence to get what they want. Oh I feel like I’m getting angry just thinking of this subject…ugh…


  12. Am I brave enough to post this?
    Evidently I am. I was spanked many times (mostly for not eating my veggies) but I would never say that the spanking crossed into any form of abuse. My husband was raised in the same culture and was spanked MANY times. Then we had our own kids and they have been occasionally spanked. At some point after spanking my very trying third child, I realized that I was done with it. His behavior temporarily changed, but the spanking was mostly a vent to my own frustration. My 4th child struggles with anxiety, so perhaps that helped to take the spanking out of me, too.

    My husband still yells. And last week he did give the 3rd boy one swat on the backside. In that case, I considered it neither cruel nor fruitless.

    That said, I think it was a glorious day when schools here banned it.

    And lastly, after all those spankings did I learn to eat veggies? No.

    So how it that for contradiction?


  13. I was a horrid child, strong willed..I was “spanked” till I was black and blue..I never learned.
    I do not advocate hitting anyone or anything..especially children and animals..well especially those whom you are supposed to love:)


  14. Well, here I come. We must have been singing off the same song sheet about kids today because kids are the subject of my post today, too. (Not spanking though.)

    I know we are friends enough (and you are sage enough) to allow me to differ in my opinion. I have come at this issue from both sides. We were beaten as kids by angry parents who vented their spleen. It did nothing but make us angry and need to turn the anger elsewhere. I knew that kind of hitting wasn’t spanking. It was for frustration relief and self-indulgence, not to mention serious mental imbalance.

    I do, however, think an “appropriate” spank, one done in love and not in anger with clear communication between parent and child, can be far less traumatizing than a parent who claims not to spank but yells, threatens, screams, and fails to set and enforce boundaries. The fruit of that seems to be an amped-up child who acts out and fails to come up against appropriate societal and self-imposed walls. Both extremes – too lenient/too severe – seem to yield the same results. They often have trouble with all types of relationships common to the human condition.

    My children were spanked, occasionally, and only until a certain age, with my hand. And only a swat or two. I never used an object because I knew my hand would give a good report on how energetically that spank was delivered. I was not a yeller. I didn’t want that environment in our home. I did always say that one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is train them in such a way that other people enjoy them. And I don’t mean they should be people pleasers. Simply that they know what is right and wrong and are able to operate, most of the time, within those parameters.

    The “kids” are now 14 & 18 and we are incredibly close. They are both highly successful and have great minds and opinions of their own which they are encouraged to express. Respectfully. And I give them that same respect.

    Not everyone is able to control themselves and if they know they cannot, they shouldn’t spank. But I certainly see lots of good fruit from the type of tending (and the occasional spank) I offered my little trees.


  15. Oooh this is a difficult one for me. I was beaten as a kid, and the problem for me is when the parents are out of control when they do it, it makes the kids lose respect for the parent. A smack to the bum is no problem, but when they fly off the handle it is not acceptable.

    On the flip side I know many boys who admit that they only way they could be controlled as kids was by being spanked. They were uncontrollable otherwise.

    I think you should not ban spanking in homes but make abuse easier to spot.


  16. My father would whip my brother and me with his leather belt. That hurt. Especially when the backs of me legs bled. That model – whipping, as opposed to spanking – has never worked for me. Spanking – with the open hand to the rear end – in very small doses. The last two times I tried spanking, (a) after three swats I realized I would have to kill son #3 before he would repent (or recant) and (b) having set fire to the bathroom trash can while playing with matches, the heat from which shattered to toilet tank, thus flooding said bathroom while the toilet paper was flaming on its roll in the wall mount, causing a glorious blister to my hand scooping it out of the wall before bowing before the toilet to shut off the spraying water . . . even son #4 tearfully acknowledged he had it coming — three not-very-hard ones —– he’d learned what he needed, and I was trying not to guffaw at his terrified face . . .
    Time out is ‘way better.


  17. Always a very heated debate topic.
    I do think if you smack it teaches abit of “do as I say not as I do”,
    It is pretty belittling and often the easy option as a form of Punishment.
    s for others touching/hitting or smacking someone eleses kids…Well I have never???
    In Oz anyone who did that would be getting chrged by the police!


  18. the good book says, “spare the rod, spoil the child.” However, it doesn’t mean that this should be the primary source of discipline alone, and I feel should be used sparingly, if at all. Parents should be clear on their expectations with their children as far as behaviors and what disciplines they can expect. Children should have respect and perhaps even a little fear of retribution from their parents if the situation warrants it. It is a shame that some adults verbally abuse their own children and deliver inappropriate spankings. Why is it there is training for everything else, but in order to be a parent, all one has to do is get pregnant? Raising children is the most important job there is, and parents need training on that too!


  19. Ohh….tough question, LadyFi! You have me thinking!

    I have to agree with Lawyer Mom and Bella. I am not a fan of spanking, but I do believe it is necessary sometimes to give Emma a quick smack on the rear as a last resort. Most times she will listen to us, but there are times she seems to have cotton in her ears and she just wont stop what she is doing. So I give her a slight tap on the rear and that gets her attention. And NEVER with anything other than my hand.


  20. I wish more parents thought about what was the right thing to do. Living in the States I don’t know that I ever knew whether spaking was legal or illegal in my state. I don’t need the state to tell me that it’s wrong. I guess I assumed that people *knew* better, but that incident you posted about really highlighted how wrong I am.


  21. Spanking or disciplining is NOT the same as hitting or beating which is usually an action done in anger as opposed to a process NOT in anger as outlined by Ronnica. But people will use these emotive terms to try and elicit an emotional response.
    Children need to learn boundaries and parents know best generally how to help them learn boundaries. For some it is a spank, for others it comes in different forms. I remember one man reminiscing that his mother came to school with him one day and ‘shadowed’ him as a punishment for something he had done wrong at school. That was more effective to him than a spank would have been and he never did it again! A creative parent will match the punishment to the reason for it and to the child’s character, in this inastance one punishment definitely does not fit all!


  22. Any form of physical violence by any adult against any child is completely wrong and unforgivable.

    While that is easy to say and understand – and anybody who argues against it is quite simply wrong – it is not always an easy rule to live by. Children are experts at finding out just how far they can push an adult before the adult loses it: it’s how they learn the right way to behave. But if the adult then responds with physical violence, the child learns that physical violence is an appropriate response to the behaviour that provoked it.

    To a child, all adults are teachers, and by observing us they learn how to behave. If we don’t teach them to use violence, we can all make the world a better place.


  23. PS – I forgot to add that I am totally against corporal punishment and I am SO glad we live in a state that does not practice it in school. I would not put up with someone else spanking Emma. I don’t believe anyone has the right to lay a hand on someone else’s child. The end.

    After we enrolled Emma in school that is the first question my mom asked, if they practiced corporal punishment. I do believe if Emma came home and said her teacher hit her, my mom would be the first one up at the school spanking the teacher! 🙂


  24. I had no idea there were still states that allowed corporal punishment in school! I shouldn’t be surprised though, many states still say it is a right and good thing to kill someone who has killed someone else (referring to the death sentence here).

    I was swatted as a child until my parents had a change of mind concerning whether or not it worked. I guess. I’m not really sure what prompted them to stop swatting (I wouldn’t call it spanking, not really, since I don’t ever remember it hurting). The last time I got swatted/spanked was after I bit my mother. I was 8 or 9 at the time, so I really deserved it. I *bit* her for crying out loud! But she felt so horrible about the whole thing she went and hid in her room afterwards until my dad came home. Come to think of it, it’s probably when my parents decided to stop spanking. I think my mom knew how close she’d come to losing it. After that they went for passive-aggressive guilt, which in my opinion was WAY worse.


  25. Spanking is not violence… I am currently 18 ,and I was spanked as child when I did something that wasn’t right. I came out respectful and understood why my parents did it. My younger sister , who is currently nine, was never spanked because CPS would have come after us if we tried ,and now she has no respect to anyone and is always getting into fights with others. I understand that parents over do it sometimes, but it shouldn’t be outlaw when a parent knows when to do it. The only thing that will come out of this is more disrespect and challenge of authoirity.


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