Hamlet once said, “to spank or not to spank, that is the question!” Okay, he didn’t, but the question likely would have come up had he been a parent.
Few topics in the parenting world cause as much anxiety and anger as whether or not to spank a child.
But, now Wales has stepped up and said that spanking is indeed not okay and they have outlawed it.
According to the Guardian, not only has corporeal punishment that includes slapping, spanking, smacking, or shaking a child been made illegal but citizens are encouraged to “contact social services or police if they see a parent or carer meting out physical punishment.”
This new law sounds like a step in the right direction for those that see spanking as a form of child abuse, but not everyone agrees.
In Wales, the Labour movement called the new law “historic” and would like to see England follow in their footsteps. However, the opposition party has likened this new law to criminalizing parents by creating a “Stasi culture.”
Julie Morgan, the deputy minister for social services who spearheaded the campaign to outlaw corporal punishment against children, told the Guardian that she views the new law as “a historic moment for children and their rights in Wales as we make physically punishing children a thing of the past.”
She rebuffed the new law’s critics, suggesting that the fear of spying and criminalizing parents may be a bit overboard since few parents spank their children anymore.
“The culture has started to change, and I think this law will reinforce that,” Morgan told the Guardian.
Defending the law, Viv Laing, a public affairs manager at NSPCC Cymru Wales, told the Guardian,
“In Wales, as in more than 60 countries around the world, we will no longer tolerate physical violence against children.
Until now, children were the only group in our society who it was acceptable to strike in certain circumstances.
We don’t allow the physical punishment of adults or animals, so it is absurd that we have for so long with children.”
While Wales may have a point outlawing spanking in the United States would likely face substantial pushback.
Look at any comment section on social media when spanking comes up, and you will be hard-pressed not to see people defending the practice by pointing out how entitled, spoiled, and disrespectful kids who don’t get popped on the rear turn out to be.
However, research shows that parents who use spanking, yelling, and threats as tools to discipline their kids can cause lifelong harm.
The National Library of Medicine looked at more than twenty years of research and found that the adverse effects on kids ranged from neurological, cognitive, emotional, social development to physical health.
They found that despite the massive body of research looking at many angles of corporal punishment on kids, not one could say that there was a positive outcome.
In other words, spanking kids does not make them well-behaved, healthy individuals. It causes harm.
But despite the science to back up all the reasons why corporal punishment is misguided and dangerous, the culture of old-school parenting persists.
Many circles of parents still believe that since they turned out okay after growing up being hit, it is okay to hit their own kids.
But things may be slowly moving toward the path that Wales took legislatively.
While it is legal for parents to spank their kids in every US state, it is not lawful for teachers to do so in most states.
However, there are currently 19 states that allow teachers to use physical punishment on kids proving the point that the United States is a long way from agreeing to a law protecting children from being spanked.