Spanking: Is It a Good Parenting Move, or a Bad One? (Pt. 1)

December 15, 2017 Abuse and Neglect Attorney
Belt for spanking
For many older people, belts, cooking spoons and carpet beaters were common discipline tools.

Spanking is a hot button issue. Put ten people in a room and ask them to debate the issue of spanking, and chances are, within five minutes you’ll have an argument on your hands. Why? Because like abortion, politics, and religion, people feel very strongly about this particular subject, and they’ll fight to defend their perspectives.

They are many people who grew up being spanked by parents who loved them and wanted them to learn the error of their ways. As a result, they tend to advocate for spanking their own children. It’s an important part of good parenting in their eyes. Others view it as abuse and feel that violence should not be mistaken for discipline. But what do mental health experts say about it? And even more importantly, what does the law say about it?

Can you legally spank a child in Michigan?

Under Michigan law, spanking a child is legal. MCL 750.136b of the Michigan Penal Code defines Child Abuse as “harm or threatened harm to a child’s health or welfare that occurs through non accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment.” But spanking by a parent or guardian is considered to be an exception, as long as it is for the purpose of discipline, and that only “reasonable force” is used.

Of course, “reasonable force,” when it comes to discipline, is rather vague. Much like “moderation” in drinking, every person’s idea of what defines “reasonable” is different. And Michigan law doesn’t specify exactly what it deems “reasonable” to be. However, spanking the child in a way that leaves marks, is deemed to have crossed the line into physical abuse. So when it comes to spanking, you may be wondering what the right thing is to do.

So is it a good idea to use spanking as a form of discipline?

Well, there are several things to consider when making your choice about whether to spank your child or not. One of those things could be the opinion of mental health professionals. In a recently published article in the Journal of Family Psychology, University of Michigan researchers revealed the results of a recent study, and they are rather surprising.

Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor at U of M’s School of Social Work and Elizabeth Gershoff, a former teacher at U of M, analyzed over 50 years of accumulated research on the subject of child discipline. In total, they reviewed 75 studies, including 160,000 children and came to the conclusion that spanking does more psychological harm to a child than it does  good.

Experts tend to say no – spanking has negative effects on children!

According to Grogan-Kaylor, the more frequently a children was spanked, the more they were likely to struggle with antisocial behaviors and mental health issues. In essence, spanking was found to have the same negative results as physical child abuse, but on a slightly less severe scale.

Another finding of the research is the fact that spanking doesn’t increase compliance in children. This means that, while spanking is usually performed in order to achieve more compliant children, studies show that spanking doesn’t usually achieve its desired result.

Research results often conflict with popular opinion.

This may be something to consider when attempting to make informed choices about spanking in Michigan. But research aside, there are a still significant number of people who still believe that spanking is the right solution when dealing with rudeness, disobedience, rebellion and poor behavior choices in children.

So whether you believe spanking is an acceptable form of discipline, or you prefer other methods for training children, join us next time in this discussion about corporal punishment. Next time we will be looking at cases where Michigan parents who spanked their children were vindicated by the courts. Until then, if you need the help of an experienced child abuse defense attorney, call The Kronzek Firm today at 866 766 5245. WE are her to help you.