A few years ago, when my boys were 1 ½ years old, one of them ran from me while I was taking him out of the car in a crowded parking lot. He ran headlong right in front of an oncoming car. Despite what is often said about aging female drivers, the operator in this vehicle reacted lightening fast and slammed her brakes to avoid hitting my son. I reacted equally fast, when I ran to him and spanked his little behind telling him never to run from me again. Since that time, about 4 years ago, I still feel occasional pangs of guilt that I completely lost my cool and gave in to corporal punishment. After all, science will tell me that spanking doesn’t work. Nonetheless, since that day, my son has never strayed from my side in public, nor, incidentally, has his brother who watched the whole thing. It seems that spanking worked. So which is it? Go or no-go on the whole spanking thing? What is a parent to do?
Why does it seem that corporal punishment is so attractive to many parents and so unattractive to many scientists? Dr. Kazdin has a great discussion on the matter here: http://www.slate.com/id/2200450/pagenum/all/#page_start
In particular, I find his ideas on punishment as a cultural phenomenon interesting. Also, his statements about the UN, Civil Rights, and the USA are interesting. Do children have a right not to be harmed? Finally, we might consider the validity of retribution theory.
“Alan E. Kazdin is John M. Musser professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University and director of Yale’s Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. He is also president of the American Psychological Association and author, most recently, of The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child.”