My first reaction is, of course, emotional: I am disgusted that so many people advocate spanking "as a means of discipline". I would not have deemed the differences between Europe and the United States so big in this respect. It should not surprise me considering the general sexual paranoia in the US, but it still scares me. An industralized country, with modern computers and nuclear bombs, and many of its citizens think that the proper way to deal with kids who don't act according to their views is to beat them, to belt them or to spank them. Of course, only if it is done in a "non-abusive" fashion. After all, "it never did me any harm".
First, I must talk a bit about scientific reasoning. Some have argued that you can make a study for everything and provide "evidence" for any preconceived opinion. While it is true that many researchers do have a preconceived opinion on the subject at hand, it is certainly not true that study == study.
I understand that, in former times, people often relied on "experts" quoted by their favorite media instead of building their own opinion and examining the research themselves. After all, most newspapers don't even cite the source for the studies they write about, and ordering and reading them requires more time than one might want to invest. But nowadays, things are different. I have provided direct links to the material in question. Anyone could take a look at the full text of the comparison and the Prescott paper. If there were flaws in the comparison or in the Prescott paper, you could point them out. I would try to answer, and if we agreed that the comparison was flawed, we would dump the whole thing.
Instead, a "You can claim anything with studies" attitude is prevalent. Instead of reading the material and arguing about it, most people seem to prefer to listen to their primitive emotions instead and do what they "feel" or act on what they have "experienced", and of course select the media they consume based on these emotions.
The ideological background for this kind of reasoning is called constructivism, the belief that there is no objective reality, that everything is just a construction of our minds. This belief, obviously, is fundamentally flawed, for if everything is both true and false, the claim that this is so is subject to itself, thus, irrelevant. It is true that we cannot gain absolute truth through scientific reasoning. Only religion claims to possess absolute truths. But we can get closer and closer to the truth. This is visible in the scientific progress of the last centuries. Would you comment a Human Genome Study with "You can claim anything with studies"?
Anyone can take part in modern science. Just falling back into primitive emotions and being proud of being unable to take part in a rational, scientific discussion is dangerous. Have you learned nothing from important scientific mentors like Carl Sagan? How much darkness do you want?
Some have criticized the comparison or my summary for claiming a causal link where there is only a correlation. As I have already pointed out, that is not the case. The comparison wants to counter claims that spanking is necessary to achieve discipline. Some have argued that "Nobody claims spanking leads to better scores". So, does this, inversely, mean that a school without discipline is as efficient as one with discipline? Why do you need discipline through spanking if it doesn't increase efficiency (and perhaps lower it)?
Now, about spanking in general. Of course, I will not convince anyone, but I cannot let some misconceptions go unanswered out of self-respect. First, in Germany, where I live, spanking is not considered acceptable. It is banned from schools and there has been a law proposal for at least recommending not to spank or slap children in families as well. If it were true that corporal punishment in families and schools is necessary to deal with kids, then why don't we have millions of kids with attention deficit disorders? Why is our crime rate an order of magnitude lower? Why is our school violence low, why haven't we had our own Columbines? Why do non-spanking, loving parents not complain about the ineffeciency of love and understanding, while many spankers and beaters (and I would have no problem labeling these people child abusers) seem to be constantly unhappy with their children's discipline?
Surely some of the people this article writes about also thought that their children just needed discipline, applied properly.
Of course it's not all because of spanking or non-spanking, as I have never claimed. Spanking is just part of a set of behaviors and feelings that is anti-body, anti-sex, anti-love and seems to be very popular in America. This set of behaviors and feelings is damaging and wrong. Among kids from the same states and similar family situations, kids who are spanked have lower cognitive ability. They are more antisocial and more violent. Just go and read the research at Nospank if you are not afraid of facts contradicting your feelings. If you find flaws, then I'm willing to discuss them. If you have counter research, I'm willing to take a look at it. If you just want to say "Aw, you can claim anything with studies", then better shut up. And don't get too close to kids, for if you want to have kids, or have them, you should be willing to at least take a look at the huge body of research that suggests that physically hurting them might cause them irreversible mental harm.
Many African girls feel like removal of the clitoris is necessary and that it has "never done them any harm". I hope that at least nobody here would argue that they are right.
To the parent, it does indeed appear that spanking works. Of course the child will try to avoid the spanking in the future. But the primary effect is not learning -- pain reduces blood flow in the cortex, thereby inhibiting rational thinking; this is an evolutionary mechanism to generate immediate fight or flight reactions -- but fear. It gradually changes the parent-child relationship and does nothing to remedy the actual causes of the behavior it is supposed to cure. If you spank your kid because he stole your wallet, he will steal someone else's the next time.
Unfortunately, fear and superstition are deeply rooted in our brains. But love is the only way. If you fail to recognize that in time, you are doomed. The same kids who have received "properly applied discipline" will grow up to become the monsters willing to drop bombs on a foreign country if it fits their political agenda.
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!