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Spanking: Where Do You Draw The Line Between Discipline and Abuse?

By Nigel Boys

According to Dr. David Safir, a pediatrician in California, spanking your child when they do wrong, can be an effective way of making them realize what they have done and preventing them from doing it again.

Safir went on to say that he received a spanking when he deserved it as a child and it didn’t affect him negatively. He adds that he has five children of his own that he occasionally spanked, and five grandchildren and they have all grown up healthy and strong.

However, according to a new study published in the online journal of Pediatrics, spanking can lead to mental illnesses. The article continues that even a firm squeeze on the arm can have negative consequences and parents should be careful how they distinguish what punishment is needed for the offense committed.

The study further found that 2 to 7% of children who experience spanking, slapping or any other form of physical abuse during their childhood, experience feelings of anxiety or mood disorders and may even lead to them having a problem with substance abuse.

Safir believes that sometimes a firm hand is needed to bring children to their senses and stop them spiraling out of control. He adds that most pediatricians seem to be afraid to give this kind of advice.

However, Dr. Barbara Greenberg, a psychologist from Connecticut, does not believe that Safir is right in his disciplinary conclusions. She adds that people who are not affected by spanking during childhood, or at least claim that they are not, are few and far between.

Greenberg went on to say that if children are not spanked, they tend to turn out better in the long run, in her opinion. She adds that shame can be brought about in children who are spanked and this can lead to a feeling of depression or anxiety.

The Connecticut psychologist also believes that spanking a child can lead to them being violent towards others when they grow up.

Safir, on the other hand, believes that Greenberg is wrong in her analysis of the progression from spanking to hurting others.

The Californian pediatrician adds “If children don’t learn that society has rules of conduct and consequences for bad behavior, they grow up into a culture in which they’re often useless.” He continues “They can’t work, they can’t get a job, and they have no respect for people above them.”

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8 thoughts on “Spanking: Where Do You Draw The Line Between Discipline and Abuse?

  1. Delores

    The line is drawn by the moral consciousness of the parents rendering the discipline, like it always was with Black Families. We need to keep that line and stop listening to people who do not have the best interest of the black child at heart.

  2. Anike

    Black folk believe in “whooping” their kids. Empowered by the Old Testament, they feel it is instructional. Interesting that they at the same time ignore the verses about “serve your master as you might me” and other passages that would inhibit many a lifestyle.

    Most cherry pick from bible passages and that is one on which most AA’s agree.

    A noted educator says the use of whooping is part of why AA’s tend to perform lower on standardize tests. They are beaten and yelled at, (now often unfortunately by single parent moms). Youth are afraid to make a mistake for fear of physical harm.

    In the AA community, we teach our children early to use violence to achieve a end.. Beatings, spankings, whippings are in effect one person hitting another to get another to do what you want them to do.

  3. Arthur Jones


    These pseudo authorities on child raising, most of which have no natural children of their own, need to sit on their hands and shut the hell up. I’m sorry, but I get sick and tired of these non people attempting to tell actual parents how to raise their children. The Bible says; “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. I’m going to follow what the good Lord said, rather than some scatter brains. You’ve got to love your child enough to do what’s best for the child, in the long run. Of course, you’re not going to enjoy spanking them, and they aren’t going to enjoy being spanked, but that’s the point. Would you rather administer a spanking now, while their growing and being molded and you’re motivated by your love and concern for your child. Or allow them to be seriously harmed by someone else, who tired of the other’s foolishness ends up killing, or seriously damaging their developing bodies. There’s no doubt about it, the Bible tells us exactly what to do. And these evil people attempting to alter the Lord’s word are the ones bringing so much destruction on our world. I’m a retired teacher of thirty six years, a parent and grandparent I’ve taught from two years olds, to the college level where I had a sixty three year old lady. I and my late, beloved sister were raised by two aunts, the stronger which issued punishment. I’m not going to lie, the simple thought of having done something to get a spanking was always super serious for and to me. I detest being hit. I detested expectations of forth coming pain. But, I’ll tell anyone, our negative, backward youth of today can and could be avoided if their parent’s parents had spanked their butts. The Bible describes it as “loving and caring for your child enough that you raise them properly, thereby preventing their acting in such a manner later that someone ends up killing or maiming them. I spanked mine and I know they spank theirs.
    Corporal punish can be abused. In a great many situations it has been abused. But again that’s been done separated by racial lines. Statistics have proven that during the period it was legal and allowed in public schools, far too many principals and instructors
    applied it far more liberally to minorities than to majorities. Together with prayer being removed from school by an atheist, Madelyn Murray O’Hare (who was later discovered murdered and desiccated in a desert) By the way, she only remained alive a few years afterward. (Interestingly her remaining son and his children became Christians.

    Be blessed family and let God’s will be done. Would you rather spank your child now, or wish you had when they’re in prison for assault or murder ?

    God bless us all. Your Computer [email protected] (FREEPRESS)

  4. D.Haqq

    Corporal punishment as a form of discipline and physical are two separate and distinct things. Pseudo science today try to blur the lines between the two. In the real world they are either benefits or consequences for our actions. To teach our kids that there are rewards and benefits for good actions and no consequences for bad actions is a great disservice to them.

  5. florence

    This is ridiculous. The majority of people I have grown up with who were spanked while growing up ARE JUST FINE! What in God’s name is it going to take for these so called intelligent, educated know it all’s, to take a real look at these kids in the class room cursing teachers, disrespecting their elders, say any thing do any thing, totally out of control, if they had gotten their behinds spanked and disciplined as children growing up we wouldn’t have the issues we have today with our youth. Yes the extent or degree of the discipline does matter, nevertheless sometimes a good old fashioned spanking is definitely in order. I got a swat in school in the 7th grade for forging a letter to get out of PE, I never forgot it and never forged another letter, OH!!! Lo’ and behold I’M NOT CRAZY!!

  6. Marilyn

    I am well educated and well employed and my mother chose not to spank me. I have a healthy respect for others, the law, and my community. I am not useless, I am disciplined and I am not an anomaly. It takes patience and empathy to determine methods of discipline that are not humiliating and sometimes terrifying.

  7. A. G.

    I was spanked and everyone I went to school with was spanked, and we are all just fine! I spanked my children and they are all college grads and doing just great, they work every day, don’t do drugs, pay their bills and don’t worry me and their dad for anything. My parents did their job and me and my husband did our jobs as parents. That BS about spanking kids is the reason we have so many thugs on the streets today, thugs of all colors, their parents stuck them in the corner for time out and now as adults, they have “timed out.” How is that working for those time out parents?

  8. Hollace

    When spanking becomes abuse is the birth of emotional/ psychological problems. When spanking is the only form of punishment for actions deemed wrong. Is spanking/ slapping/ pinching the sole way one uses? How often is the way used to correct bad behavior? Has this child actually b been taught the difference between right and wrong? Many times parents whupp everybody, the innocent got punished with the guilty. Wrong!! When a child makes a parent look bad, embarrasses them bop upside the head! Right? Many children are only touched and or noticed when they do something wrong…they want to be noticed, held hugged. Why mot examine our motives, try other forms of correcting bad habits, attitudes, outbursts etc. May parents set the better example in displaying good habits,positive attitudes etc. … May parents add forgiveness, remembering that we all were once children & we all error,we’re all learning.


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