Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Any disciplinary measure, physical, verbal, or emotional carried to an extreme can harm a child emotionally and psychologically. For example excessive use of "time-out" (isolation) can severely humiliate a child. Obviously excessive or indiscriminant spanking or hitting is harmful as well, however a calm and controlled spanking distributed in a loving manner can not be harmful in anyway. An AAP conference on corporal punishment in 1996 concluded that in certain circumstances, spanking may be an effective backup to other forms of discipline, and that a couple swats on the rear-end of your preschooler permanently harms him, is essentially a myth. S. Kenneth Schonberg, a pediatrics professor, suggests that when used appropriately spanking makes small children less likely to obey their parents. Another analysis of spanking shows that when spanking is used among 2 to 6 year olds to backup other discipline measures that have failed, it delays the next reoccurrence of misbehavior for twice as long as a disciplinary method alone.

The "spanking teaches hitting" belief has gained popularity over the past decade, but is not supported by objective evidence. A distinction must be made between abusive hitting and non-abusive spanking. This can be easily determined by the parent's attitude when spanking their child. There is no evidence in medical literature that a mild spank to the buttocks of a disobedient child by a loving parent teaches aggressive behavior. Spanking is one of the most controversial disciplinary methods today. On one side of the debate are parents who believe it is all right to spank their children, and on the other side are those who think that children should never be spanked. Somewhere in the middle lie those who believe that spanking should only be used in particular instances. Part of the reason for the debate is that parents and experts often define spanking differently. To some spanking means "˜slapping a child's buttocks' and for others spanking is a generic term for any physical punishment done to a child.