The following graph shows spanking sentiment by selected demographic characteristics. Spanking sentiment is calculated from responses to the assertion that “it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard, spanking”. The percentage of respondents who “strongly agree” is multiplied by 1.5; those who “agree” by 0.5; those who “disagree” by -0.5; and those who “strongly disagree” by -1.5. The higher the value, the more favorably inclined towards spanking as a disciplinary tool the group is. For contemporary relevance, results are from 2000 onward:
There is a strong element of the white liberals and black rednecks effect–the tendency for attitudes towards cultural issues to go from white liberals on the progressive end to blacks on the traditionalist end, with white conservatives falling in between–at work here.
Corporal punishment has never been in my parenting toolkit. It began that way on account of uncritically accepted cultural transmission. I was never hit as a child so I never thought of hitting my own children.
But there’s a strong philosophical case to be made against the practice, and it’s one I accept. There is hardly any greater power disparity in human society than that between parent and child. There are social and legal protections for victims of spousal abuse. Yet a woman who is hit by her husband can leave him and she chose to be with him in the first place. A child cannot leave his parents (and in the extreme case that he does, it’s often out of the pan and into the forest fire) and he of course did not choose his parents.
His takehome message from being spanked by mom, much bigger and stronger than he, is that the way a person gets what he wants is by physically dominating others. Cultivating a functional relationship with violence is an important life skill. However, punitively dispensing it against one’s own child with the expectation that the child passively submit to the spanking warps that relationship in dysfunctional ways.
GSS variables used: SPANKING, RACECEN1(1)(2)(3)(4-10), HISPANIC(1)(2-50), RELIG(1-2,4-13)(3), MARITAL, CHILDS, SEX, WORDSUM(0-4)(5-7)(8-10), BORN, ATTEND(0-2)(3-5)(6-8), PARTYID(0-1)(2-4,7)(5-6), YEAR(2000-2018)