So, Delaware has made it illegal for parents to spank their children – technically the law permits a parent to use force to punish a child for misconduct, but it prohibits any act that is likely to cause or does cause physical injury. By defining “physical injury” to include the infliction of pain on a child, spanking is now illegal in Delaware.http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/de/201209210.asp
Now, I *know* this is a hot topic issue. Folks from both sides of the Spank/Don’t Spank camp are vehement in their arguments. I’m going to go ahead and put it out there. I am in the ‘spank’ camp. Now before you rush to the comment section to curse me out or try to explain to me that my position is either backwards, abusive, or ignorant let me be clear. I *do not* condone beatings. There is a difference. A couple of swift licks on the bottom, to garner the child’s attention and remind them that you are the authority figure, is acceptable to me and mine. I think of spanking as the ‘last resort attention getter.’ You are acting a fool? Oh, you are out of control? Well, here is a quick, swift reminder to pay attention to me and what I’m saying to you.
The spanking isn’t the punishment; it’s the horn blow announcing the punishment, in my world. And to further clarify, I don’t believe spanking is the only means to get a child’s attention, nor do I think ALL children respond well to spanking or that it is the answer for every family. (But I’ve certainly known a number of children who could have benefited from a whack or two on their butts – just my opinion, of course). Also, I do not believe that spanking is as useful a tool once the child reaches a certain age. Punky, bless her heart, was spanked a handful or so of times when she was little. (The ‘Fearsome Fours’ were hard on both her and me). She became defiant. Defiance is a BIG NO-NO in our house, at the age especially. Spankings were used to remind her who was in charge so she could then pay attention to what we were *saying* to her. By the time she was about 6 or so, she wasn’t spanked again. Now, I’m not saying I would never spank her again, but I am saying that the appropriate use of spanking when she was little, and it was most effective, made the need to spank as she gets older all but obsolete.
My mother, the mother of all mothers (who was raised by the MOTHER of them all) gave me very few words of advice when Punky was born. In fact there were only two sentiments she strongly expressed to me. First, no one thinks your kid is as great or interesting as you do, so don’t run on and on to everyone about every little thing she does (very valid point). Second, young children do not know the difference between fear and respect. They are incapable of that higher thought processing, so if you want them to respect you as they get older, they better have a healthy fear of you when they are little. *GASP* I know. Horrible, just horrible. But oh, so true! Again, let me be clear. She wasn’t talking about a child cringing when she spills a glass of milk for fear of getting her ass beat. She was talking about a healthy fear of mom when mom spoke the words “no”, “stop”, “come here”, etc. She was talking about your child knowing that you WILL follow through with consequences. Too many parents I see don’t do that. Now, of course, spanking is not required to make that happen. However, if a few swift smacks to the child’s bottom announce the beginning of consequences, that is a parent’s prerogative.
Lest you think I don’t understand that parents abuse their children, let me tell you that I worked for a number of years in the Juvenile Justice system. In fact, my last job in Criminal Justice was as an Aftercare Counselor. I helped youth, releasing from their juvenile detention centers (jail), transition back into their homes, schools, communities, life. I *know* that children are abused and I’ve seen it first hand and helped those youth deal with the effects of being abused. Okay? Okay. None of that negates a parent’s right to spank. Furthermore, let’s remember something even more important. Once the government steps in and takes a ‘right’ away from its people, we’ve entered the territory of ‘slippery slope’. I detest the slippery slope.
Today it’s illegal to spank (actually the law there says it is illegal to cause pain) your child and tomorrow it could be illegal to do something that *you* do in your pursuit of raising your family. This is something that parents everywhere should be outraged over and in the state of Delaware they should be fighting to have the law overturned. Emotional pain doesn’t leave visible marks and in my line of work I saw far more children scarred by that pain rather than the physical kind. Life can be painful. If we are heading to a society where we limit a parents’ ability to teach their children life lessons, even those that cause a little pain, we are doomed. We may as well put our head between our legs and kiss our asses good-bye.
Folks may think this is a good thing, but it’s not. Not only are we removing the rights of parents (who haven’t crossed the line into abuse) to raise their children as they see fit but we are adding another notch to the belt of ‘what is wrong with the young people of today’. Spoiled rotten and not legally allowed to be spanked? I shudder. I truly do. Equally important though is for us to ask the question: What rights will be removed next? Will we lose our right to raise them in the religion, or lack of religion, of our choice? What about our right to home school? Slippery slope folks, slippery slope!