On Wednesday, a four-judge panel in New York state ruled that a father’s spanking of a child who had cursed at another adult represented a “reasonable use of force” and did not constitute excessive punishment. Courts in Florida, Minnesota, and California have in the past also upheld a parent’s right to spank (even where wooden implements are involved).
Should spanking be a standard item in the parents’ toolkit? We may choose to simply raise our hands with a sigh of “different strokes (as it were) for different folks”, but perhaps there’s a more important question here: is spanking effective? More and more research shows that, rather than altering kids’ behavior in the long run, spanking leads children to greater aggression, and subsequent acting out. In addition, it can strain or distance a child’s relationship with his or her parent, fraying a connection that can be crucial in later, more turbulent years. Experts suggest that timeouts, talking, and varying your strategy often are more effective approaches to actually altering a kid’s behavior for the better. So as for spanking? Legal, sure, but so is drinking and texting your ex. Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.