The term Corporal Punishment Essay means the intentional infliction of pain
on the body for purposes of punishment and includes slapping, hitting with
objects, pinching, shaking and forcing to stand for long periods of time
(Epoch 1). Family researchers define corporal punishment as ” the use of
physical force aimed at causing children to experience pain but not injury,
for the purposes of correction and control of youthful behavior” (Day 83).
The term “spanking” is a form of physical or corporal punishment (Epoch 1).
The general acceptance, and sometimes support, of corporal punishment as a
method of discipline is an aspect of the American culture (Barnett, Miller-
Perrin, Perrin 61). Children are abused, in part, because they are unable
to defend themselves against stronger and more powerful adults (Barnett,
Miller-Perrin, Perrin 61).
Researchers only recently have recognized that
spanking is used primarily with young children and that the incidence and
severity of spanking often diminishes by the time children are 8-10 years
of age (Day 80).
Studies of the incidence and intensity of spanking often provide evidence
that most parents have spanked their children. About 90% of parents in the
United States report having spanked their children (Day 80).
In a research project done using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth,
researchers examined the antecedents of parents’ spanking behavior. This
study represents an important step forward in understanding the profile of
parents who spank their children. Even though the study had little
theoretical orientation from which spanking could be predicted, it showed
that younger mothers spank much more frequently than older mothers; that
younger children are spanked more than older children, and that higher
levels of socioeconomic status are associated with the decreases in
It also showed that mothers with lower education, mothers living
in the south and mothers who are African American reported increased levels
of corporal punishment; and that mothers reporting higher levels of
religiosity also spanked more (Day 80).
Consistent use of corporal punishment has been an indicator of less
effective parenting and is commonly linked to socialization out comes such
as delinquency, low self-esteem, and social incompetence (Day 81).
The child’s temperament and personality directly affect the parents ability
to employ non physical discipline strategies. Consequently, children who
are perceived as difficult are more likely to be spanked than those who are
not perceived as difficult (Day 81).
Older parents who have more education will have more experience raising
children, will know more about alternative and nonpunitive strategies of
discipline, and will have a greater sense of personal maturity and self-
control, all of which may reduce inclinations to spank (Day 81).
There is a widely held tradition in western civilization that “sparing the
rod spoils the child” (Day 81).
Spanking is deeply rooted in the history
and culture of our nation as well as in our own personal experiences. Some
people point to the Bible as supporting, even requiring, physical
punishment. Those who subscribe to this argument misunderstand and misuse
scripture (Epoch 3).
When parents are working and are not on public assistance, they have a
greater ability to provide necessities and extras for their children.
Economic independence may lead to a greater sense of personal worth. This
higher self-worth should convert into more competent parenting, an
important link to non-punitive discipline (Day 82).
Single mothers have been characterized as “understaffed” and as having
difficulty juggling the demands of household, children, and work. When
these strains exist, discipline strategies may reflect a more pressured
situation. Even controlling for the age of the mother, the pressurized
climate of living as a single parent will increase the amount of reported
spanking (Day 82).
Fathers generally spank less than the mothers. Fathers, even when their
children are young, are less likely to spank. Younger children tend to
receive the most frequent spankings.
This suggests that this period of the
child’s life may be difficult for mothers (Day 87).
The study also indicated that boys are spanked more frequently than girls.
The effects of the gender of the child becomes more accentuated as the
child gets older. Mothers and fathers are less likely to spank older
children. Fathers rarely spank older girls. Older boys, if they are spanked
at all, are probably spanked by their mothers (Day 87).
Within the groups of women (black or white, married or single) the black,
single mothers report the most spanking and black, married women with older
children report more spanking than white women, but less spanking than
single, black mothers (Day 81). The black, single women are younger, which
may account for some of this difference, and are much more likely to