Spank No More: Why are fewer parents hitting their kids?

The writer of this article appears to come from a different planet than Murdoc.

The most recent national data from the National Institutes of Mental Health, obtained by a Gallup telephone poll, was encouraging in some respects. Almost every parent regularly tries to reason with a wayward child, and nearly three-quarters redirect misbehaving kids into another activity or use time-outs.

Still, many also hit children regularly…

Remarkably, however, a powerful trend toward abandoning corporal punishment is already under way. There has been a dramatic reduction in its use over the past two generations—an unprecedented change in a pattern that likely had been fixed for millennia. In the United States, for example, 94 percent of parents endorsed hitting kids in 1968, but only one-half approved by 1999.

He quotes a sociologist who believes the decrease is “part of the long term civilizing process of society.”

Then there’s

The issue wasn’t that one group was more or less lenient with bad behavior. Instead, middle- and upper-class parents tended to treat children as peers, with the pint-sized ability to make choices, respond to reason, and have valid emotions. It’s not a huge leap then to see children as having nascent civil rights that conflict with regular corporal punishment.

And he says it like it’s a good thing. And

As a result, these children who experience it develop an “emerging sense of entitlement”—a trait that may carry some negative connotations but generally correlates with better verbal skills, school performance, and a sense that they can actively shape the world around them.

So they’ll be the sort who think they’re owed stuff, but at least they’ll have good grades and be well-spoken. (He left out the “they’ll crap in peoples’ yards while whining about student loans,” but it’s his story and he can tell it however he wants.)

For the record, Murdoc is the father in a household that spanks. And as brutal and savage and uncivilized as that probably sounds to some, spanking occurred fewer than ten times total for two kids. The important thing is to be just and honorable. It seems to work.

Being this is the Christmas season, Murdoc’s spent more time than normal in the mall lately. He’d bet that if you take the 500 worst-behaved kids he’s seen, at least 80% of them come from “no spanking” households. He also did not detect any outward signs of good grades or increased vocabulary.

This guy who wrote the article clearly has a different vision of a good society than Murdoc does. Children are not “little adults” who are in many ways equal to the taller people who live in the same house.


  1. this is an outgrowth of the concept that its not okay to punch someone in the mouth for being a skuzz bucket. It stopped being acceptable to spank kids for misbehaving when it became unacceptable for you to punch people for misbehaving…just sayin

    1. I’m not sure I follow. I don’t think a parent spanking a child for disciplinary reasons is the same as me punching some random guy on the street because he’s being a jerk.

  2. Right off… More Single Parents are raising Children, so is it not the Irresponsible trying to discipline the Irresponsible.
    Children have been empowered by other Adults namely Teachers and Counselors that tell them they can’t be touched and have shared that information with Mommy Dearest.
    The Role of Men has been diminished in our society to the point that they are seen as redundant to what Women bring to the table.
    As always IMO

  3. People don’t realize that to be effective spanking does not need to take place regularly or often. There only has to be a credible threat of spanking to deter most kids from misbehaving. The problem with today is that spanking for most is completely off the table and most kids know they have the upper hand because any report of spanking to authorities could bring a world of hurt down upon their parents.

    1. Thank you! Exactly! I came from a “spanking family,” (sounds kinda dirty) and it was always the threat that actually mattered. When mom couldn’t get through to us that she was really pissed, the threat of a spanking or the wooden spoon made it clear how serious she was. She probably only followed through five times in my whole childhood, and I remember one of them ending with both of us giggling uncontrollably as we both realized how ridiculous it was.

      There is a massive and real difference between beating your kids and giving them a whack on the ass to let them know you mean business.

  4. I only had to smack my daughter’s butt twice. That was when she was 2 or 3 and went to close to the fireplace, which of course, had a fire burning in it. I figured a swat on the bottom was better than 3rd degree burns.

    My father only smacked me once when i had a fight with my younger sister and it got physical. My mother, however, use to “box” my ears when i did something that was unacceptable. Not much pain involved, but the embasisment was the key to correcting my behavior.

    Didn’t like it then, but now I absolutely see the need for light corporal punishment.

    Government shouldn’t be involved in making laws that ban ANY use of phisichal punishment. Abuse, of course, but otherwise they should keep their noses out of personal business.

    Ufortunately, many of the Liberal European countries have laws which could lead to a parent’s jailing if they are reported to have smacked their child. Even a light smack is seen as “tortur”, & child abuse.

  5. I’ve always wondered how so many people could have been spanked as children and yet have so many functioning, well adjusted adults in the generations that came before me.

    I’m a new (alright 2 years in) father. I was spanked maybe 3 times as a child. My mother had little hesitation to issue a smack to the head when I was in high school. Yet, I’m hesitant to spank my own child,mostly because of my wife’s upbringin (self-proclaimed hippies). I’ve smacked my daughter’s hand hard a few times to drive home the point that touching knives or reaching for electrical sockets are bad. In theory, I think spanking is a good idea, especially when its mostly used a threat (sure scared the hell out of my sister and I growing up, although come to think of it I don’t think she ever got spanked but just saw the aftermath of me – the big brother- being spanked).

  6. I give my kids “time outs”. I don’t yell either. I am very consistent. They get a warning and I don’t repeat myself. I don’t threaten. I warn and if they cross the line I act. A time out gets very boring for a 3 year old. By the time they are 4 they listen very well. My kids are commented on by others that they are very respectful and well behaved.

    Consistent, firm but gentle parenting is important. I think a good parent listens more than they judge and react. Sometimes they misbehave for reasons other than the intentional…kids feel bad, are sick, hungry tired…addressing their behavior rather than their “intentions” or interpreted intentions is important. I discipline someone more for the behavior than the “intention”. The hardest part is being consistent…it’s a constant struggle to be kind, consistent but firm.

    I do spank. I reserve a spanking for when they do something dangerous…like not obeying a command like “stop” and start walking into traffic…they get the idea real quick that if I raise my voice I mean business and that they need to listen up because they have crossed the line into something where someone can get hurt even unintentionally…

    This is how my Grandfather parented my Dad and when I stayed with my grandparents for weeks in the summer how I was pareneted by my Gandfather. My dad kind of grew up in the “hippy” days, but my mother was firm, kind but had very bony hands…I got maybe three real spankings from her for lieing or doing something dangerous…I remember them all and probably the last two hurt my pride more than my rear end…I knew I did wrong…and was more ashamed to get caught.

    Most parents today have no clue how to be kind, consistent and firm…that doing this early and often (even if it is just a “time out”). It is basic respect to hold someone responsible for their behavior…but to do this I must be respectful of their feelings, and not punish them for their intentions, but the unacceptable behavoir (the deed). We talk after every time out and make sure we both agree that the behavior was unacceptable and that there is a better way to behave in the future. They also get a chance to explain (more to themselves) how they got in the situation in the first place…

    There is a whole lot more than just disciplining children to parenting, but core to creating mutual respect and self responsibility, is being caring and respectful enough to hold someone to a standard of behavior consistently, firmly and lovingly.

    If someone wasn’t brought up with a good example, it’s hard to teach yourself this set of skills…which is why we see so many poorly behaved kids in public…their parents are single mothers and fathers whose parents forgot to do this in their childhood…

    Best of luck.


  7. FWIW, my wife is a threatener…she threatens them all the time and it does not work out for her and the kids in a positive way more often than not. We have a range from 17 down to 3 and they all listen to me more consistently and respectfully because I don’t threaten. I warn then I act if it continues…

    Threatening and escalating is incosistent…and it doesn’t work well.

    Just thought I’d clarify why “threatening” doesn’t work well for me…or my wife.


    1. This I agree with 100%.

      There is a warning that behavior is unacceptable. If the behavior continues, the consequences arrive immediately.

      Saves everyone a lot of time and misunderstanding.

  8. Um… even if spanking had absolutely no effect on children’s behaviour either way, you could still easily get ‘if you take the 500 worst-behaved kids he’s seen, at least 80% of them come from “no spanking” households’, just by having at least 80% of all households like that. So it wouldn’t tell you anything unless you had other information. Common sense lets you down when it comes to statistics, quantum physics, and quite a few other things.

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