Home > Choices > Paddling is assault, not discipline

Paddling is assault, not discipline

I have heard many arguments in defense of and against the use of corporal punishment with children.  Most focus on whether it is effective in comparison with other methods of discipline.  This is entirely beside the point.  Think for a moment how the news article would read if we substituted a variety of adults for the children punished by paddling.  Imagine, for instance, that a boss complained about how discipline in the workplace wasn’t what it used to be and that employees needed real consequences to teach them to behave…and that he thought paddling was the answer.  If an adult boss paddled his adult employee there would be an immediate lawsuit, newspaper outrage, and most likely criminal charges.  Or let’s say we read about a husband who said the only way to teach a woman to behave is to beat her.  Our society would favor protecting his wife and prosecuting the husband for abuse.

We have strong legal and societal protections for adults hit by other adults.  So why don’t we have these protections for children?  Why is it still legal to paddle students in 20 states and why is spanking still a suggested method of discipline in many communities?  Here’s what I believe: if it would clearly trigger an arrest or a lawsuit if you did it to someone your own age and size, it should be absolutely verboten to do it to a child.  I think it’s time that we framed corporal punishment of children in the same way we frame it for adults.  Shouldn’t our society extend at least the same protections to our children as we do to our ourselves?  I know many communities in this country already do this, but we need to keep raising this issue until children in every community are protected from assault by adults.

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