There is nothing so smarmily condescending as the ~30+ UMC American white woman who thinks she knows everything and can sit in judgement over the entire universe and demand that everyone else change their behavior to meet her standards. It doesn’t matter what other people’s circumstances are: SHE KNOWS BEST. The standards of her class are the standards by which she will judge absolutely everything. And because UMC American white women are quite possibly the world’s most pampered, safe individuals, anything that smacks of physical altercation is OMG EVIL and must be stamped out.
Never mind that physically fighting is a big part of other types of people’s cultures – I mean, just look at shonen anime to see how it ideally works with boys: they get into a fight, beat the crap outta each other, and then become friends. Never mind that standing up against actual evil – such as bullies – will often require the use of physical force. Never mind that the UMC American white woman has no problem with outsourcing her use of violence to government agencies like the police and the Department of Education SWAT teams.
The whole “spanking vs. actual abuse” debate is just another example of these insular, provincial women imposing their cultural values upon everyone else. Is spanking right for every child? Of course not. Every child is an individual. Is spanking always the most effective form of discipline for a child? Also, of course not. Once a child can actually be reasoned with, and has developed longer-term time preferences, the removal of certain privileges can be far more effective punishment than a spanking.
Whenever this kind of debate springs up, you tend to get two kinds of adult responses from the “had been spanked” cohort: “my parents spanked me and I needed it,” or “my parents spanked me and I’m scarred for life.” I suspect you will find that the two groups are distinguishable by more than spanking – that the first category had what we might consider “good” parents, and the second cohort contains all the families affected by DV and personality disorders. People with mental illness/personality disorders/etc. should never use corporal punishment, because they “do it wrong.” People raised by parents with personality disorders are to be supported in refusing to use corporal punishment in the same way that an alcoholic’s family is to be commended for going teetotaler. If you think you can’t do it correctly, then yes, you shouldn’t use physical discipline on your children.
I can actually speak from experience on this one, because I come from a family where my mother had some low-grade issues (Chocolate made her crazy. As in, literal domestic violence crazy. Dad forbade her from eating it, and we grew up with carob instead.) and my father was The Disciplinarian whose return home was an omen of impending doom every time I misbehaved. So yes, I personally know the difference between receiving a disciplinary spanking and receiving a beating from an angry parent, because as a child I experienced both – though thankfully my father quickly put a stop to it and took over all corporal punishment duties while my mother used “go to your room” time outs paired with “I’m going to tell your father!” to keep me in line. (And I was not one of your sweet little girl children, let me tell you!) And those spankings were always paired with the devastating Talk beforehand; it wasn’t long before the spanking was useless compared to The You Have Disappointed Me Talk.
Which can have just as devastating results when used incorrectly.
Now, there’s another type of argument that gets brought up: the parents of the physical discipline school vs. the non-physical discipline school. Each of these camps can point to their own children and say, “Look, my method works!” However, I think we need to take these claims with a grain of salt. How many stories do teachers tell of problem children who are Special Snowflakes who can do no wrong to their parents? Yeah, self-reporting one’s kids’ status in this debate is not something we can take at face value. The caricature:
Mother: “I never tell little Johnny ‘no’, I always reason with him!”
Everyone Else: “Yeah, we can tell. He’s a spoiled brat. Please stop inflicting your rotten spawn upon the unsuspecting public.”
So I think there needs to be a bit more corroboration on these self-reported successes of various disciplinary methods. But of course, it’s quite difficult to figure out how to conduct a proper study! First off, any family with abusers would have to be cut out from the sample (because abuse is not discipline) – but how is this going to be done when one side considers a slap to the wrist or a spanking “abuse” by definition? You can’t design a valid study with that kind of assumption baked in at the beginning. And then you’d of course have to control for socio-economic status, but then you get into the long time preference vs. short time preference dichotomy – children with longer time preferences are going to respond better to nonphysical privilege-revoking discipline because they quickly figure out that a brief spanking is a tiny price to pay for doing whatever it is that they wanted to do anyway. (Heh heh.) And when physical discipline is the norm for lower socio-economic classes, how are you going to find enough “nonspanking” families to make a sizable enough sample for comparison? So yes, beware the statistics. Lies, damn lies, and junk “science” abound on cultural/political hotbutton issues like this one.
As for this NFL guy? I don’t care. Let the courts examine the evidence and mete out appropriate punishment; I despise the witch-hunt crowd going after his employment. How is rendering Dad unemployed going to help his son? It’s not, but it sure does make the Social Justice Whiners and the sanctimonious white women feel good about themselves.