Domestic Corporal Punishment is Always Immoral
I will argue that domestic corporal punishment is always immoral.
Definitions (my own):
Domestic corporal punishment: the intentional infliction of physical pain by a parent/guardian upon a child, meant to punish him/her for poor behavior
Immoral: behavior that does not conform to what is generally accepted as right
Round 1: acceptance
Round 2: main arguments
Round 3: rebuttals
Round 4: rebuttals
Round 5: conclusion
I look forward to an interesting, civil debate.
Hello Rosalie. Thank you for accepting, and good luck to you as well.
For sake of convenience, I will write “domestic corporal punishment” as DCP.
The exact origin of DCP is unknown. Many people say that the basic concept of beating as a way of asserting dominance comes from the early days of animal domestication, and that its use was expanded to humans. Others quote the Bible, which writes “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:14). Regardless of its origin, DCP continues to be practiced around the world. Its use takes multiple forms, but the most common include spanking, paddling and whipping the child’s buttocks or the back.
The main idea behind why parents use DCP is to teach their children that what they did was wrong, and there are consequences for their actions. If a child finds him/herself getting beaten for something they did, they know what they did was wrong. What I believe matters far more than just acknowledging that something was wrong is learning why that action was wrong. When a child is beaten for poor behavior, they rarely learn why their behavior was wrong. Even if their parent attempts to teach them while beating them, the child would likely only remember the beating portion. Attempting to learn anything in a stressful and painful environment is difficult. The only idea they learn is that “if I do this again, I will get beaten.” Kids will then adopt this sort of mindset, thinking “I should not do this because I will get beaten for it,” while a much healthier and more practical mindset would be “I should not do this because I know it’s not the right thing to do.” Unfortunately, the latter way of thinking is usually not the end result. DCP teaches the child to fear the consequence of their actions, rather than understand why their behavior was wrong.
Many studies show that DCP is not only ineffective at dissipating poor behavior, it can actually increase it. “Frequent use of CP (ie, mother's use of spanking more than twice in the previous month) when the child was 3 years of age was associated with increased risk for higher levels of child aggression when the child was 5 years of age, even with controlling for the child's level of aggression at age 3 and the aforementioned potential confounding factors [maternal child physical maltreatment, psychological maltreatment, and neglect, intimate partner aggression victimization, stress, depression, substance use, and consideration of abortion] and key demographic features” (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org...). This makes sense. Children tend to model their own behavior after their parents’ behavior. DCP teaches children to use violence to deal with their problems, because that is exactly what their parents are doing to them. Research shows that “Children who were physically punished were more likely to endorse hitting as a means of resolving their conflicts with peers and siblings” (http://www.apa.org...). This can lead to bullying and other violent behaviors.
Most parents do not initially punish their children in what most would consider extreme ways, but the situation does not always remain so. “Even good intentioned discipline can lose effectiveness over time. In order to get the intended message through to the child, parents will eventually have to punish a child longer and harder” (http://www.english.umd.edu...). At this point, the likelihood of extreme harm becomes greater. “Harsh physical punishment was associated with increased odds of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, and several personality disorders...Approximately 2% to 5% of Axis I disorders and 4% to 7% of Axis II disorders were attributable to harsh physical punishment”
For a nation that appears an advocate for social change, modernity and freedom for all races, genders, religions, ethnicities and ages, it is ironic that the USA is not one of the 48 countries that has outlawed DCP (http://www.endcorporalpunishment.org...). In the face of overwhelming research telling parents to stop practicing DCP, they continue on. “Sixty-five percent of Americans approve of spanking children, a rate that has been steady since 1990” (http://abcnews.go.com...).
DCP is immoral. It hurts the child physically and mentally, and can cause them to become aggressive down the road. Even a light spanking reinforces the notion that the best way to deal with issues is through violence. Violence is not and should not be necessary to teach children right from wrong. There are plenty of alternatives that do not involve pain, such as teaching children about the Golden Rule. DCP is an outdated tradition that has no place in modern society.
Thank you for starting this debate!
The resolution reads that "Domestic Corporal Punishment is Always Immoral" First, we must realize that the word "immoral" is subjective, meaning that what is immoral to one person, may not be immoral to another person. Thus, the resolution is impossible to argue from Pro's side because "Domestic Corporal Punishment" is not limited to immoral.
Why Corporal Punishment is necessary.
1. You want to be respected.
2. . Love.
3. You want to teach them how to make good decisions.
4. You want them to have self-control.
5. You want them to be accountable.
6. You want to set standards.
7. You see strength not weakness.
Spanking is not abusive:
Some people want to argue that spanking is abusive, but abusive parents don't love their children. Most spanking is done in love, and care for the child.  Second, abusive parents lash out at their children in anger, not caring if they injure the child or not. But parents that spank do not want to injure their children. Spankings are given to correct the child's behavior. Yes, spankings hurt, but they are done so as to cause no lasting damage. That is why spankings are given on the bottom, for the posterior does not contain any vital organs. Do some parents spank too hard and cause welts and bruises? Yes, and they have gone too far. They have crossed the line between punishment and abuse. But this merely shows that some parents misuse spanking, not that spanking is abusive. Properly done, spanking causes no lasting physical damage"
Spanking does not have an effect on a child's mental health:
Many people want to complain that corporate discipline has a negative impact on a child's health, when in fact, that isn't the case at all.
 "Some researchers have reported correlations between receiving corporal punishment and behavioral and emotional problems later in life. However, these studies have several flaws. First, most are correlational. Correlational studies can tell us only that two things are related, but such studies do not tell us how the two things are related. Suppose we see there is a correlation between spanking and delinquency. A correlation only means that spanking and delinquency are related--it does not tell us how they are related. Correlational studies can not tell us what we really want to know: what causes what. It might be that children are delinquent because they were spanked. But it might also be that they were spanked because they were delinquent? A correlational study can not tell us which of these two possibilities is true. Therefore, such studies do not prove that spanking causes delinquency, anti-social behavior, depression or anything else because correlation studies can not prove what causes what. "
"Second, many of these studies looked at corporal punishment, not just at spanking. And some studies had a very “inclusive” definition of corporal punishment. They defined corporal punishment not only as hitting on the bottom but also slapping in the face, hitting on the head, boxing the ears, and shaking, among other things. Some of the forms of corporal punishment included in these studies could be considered abusive such as hitting on the head or boxing the ears. So even if we could conclude from these studies that corporal punishment causes emotional and behavior problems, and we can’t because the studies are correlational, but if we could, would it mean that all forms of corporal punishment cause emotional and behavioral problems or only the more severe, abusive forms like hitting on the head or boxing the ears? Larzelere1 found that when abusive forms of punishment were excluded from the definition of corporal punishment, researchers were more likely to find a beneficial outcome to using corporal punishment rather than a negative outcome. So abuse, not spanking, harms children’s emotional and psychological well-being."
"Also children in some of these studies were spanked several times per week.2 I suggest that the parents in these studies did not know how to use spanking nor did they know how to raise children. Any parent that needs to spank several times per week has poor parenting skills. So if children in these studies have problems is it because the parents spanked them or because the parents spanked too often or because the parents had poor parenting skills overall? These studies can't tell us."
"We know that many children are spanked and turn out fine; they are not aggressive, delinquent, depressed or anti-social. Why? Simons3 found that what leads to aggression, delinquency, and poor psychological well-being is low parental involvement such as parents not loving or trusting their children, not knowing where their children go or who they are with, and not being consistent in discipline. Being spanked did not lead to aggression, delinquency, and poor psychological well-being. Parents that love their children and are involved in their lives may use spanking, but they will never use spanking in a way that harms their children."
1Larzelere, R. E. (1996). A review of the outcomes of parental use of nonabusive or customary physical punishment. Pediatrics, 98(4), 824-828.
I will now go through and address each the points my opponent listed in favor of DCP. My opponent posted a Yahoo site where she found the points, but the link wasn"t working for me. I did some research and found the original source here, titled "8 Reasons to Spank Your Kids" (http://madamenoire.com...). Since the following points were not created by Con, I will address the original writer simply as "the author."
1). You want to be respected
The author writes "To be fear is to be respected." I beg to differ. This is not a subjective matter, rather this statement is simply wrong by definition. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines fear as "to be afraid of (something or someone)" and respect as "a feeling of admiring someone or something that is good, valuable, important." In general, people fear terrorists; they do not respect them. The author also writes that DCP "teaches [children] to submit to authority regardless of whether or not they agree." This is despicable. The author is saying that children should never think for themselves and blindly do what they are told. There is a difference between being obedient to your parents and blindly following their orders without ever asking why. Children are naturally curious, yet the author seems to dismiss this basic need of theirs to learn and explore, and says parents should not give them this freedom.
I will pay the author (and Con) the compliment of assuming they do not really believe that only parents who physically punish their child truly love them and "do what is necessary to get the desired result," compared to parents who do not physically punish their child. Assuming I am right, than this point is meaningless. Also, who does the "desired result" actually benefit, the child or the parents?
3). You want to teach them how to make good decisions
The author says "[children] need to know consequences hurt." Literally, might I add. I fail to see the connection between how punishing a child with pain teaches them to make good decisions. Rather, it teaches them only to avoid whatever they did or else they will be beaten. It does not give them knowledge they will be able to apply to other situations. Teaching a child good decision making does not come through fear or violence, but through communication, wisdom and new ways of thinking that a child"s parents can facilitate.
Points four through seven are a more or less repeats of the author"s main views. All of these points are from the perspective of the parent. They never consider any viewpoints from the other side (the child's). The tone of the author suggests children are helpless, misguided machines that need a programmer rather than sentient beings who require more than just "do this" and "don't do that"; they should be learning why to do or not do these things.
My opponent appears to have left out the eighth and final reason this author writes for why parents should spank their children. Either Con forgot to include it, or she realized that it is nonsensical.
8). It works best
"Some kids need it, period. When time-out, talking and taking away toys doesn't work, you have to get that butt." In other words, when you can't get through to them after a couple attempts, they are a lost cause; beat them until they submit to you. I see why my opponent would exclude this point, but I won"t make assumptions.
The second half of my opponent's argument was also mainly copied from a website. I was hoping to see some original writing from Con, but I guess I"ll have to wait until she makes her first rebuttal in round to hear her voice.
My opponent writes "spanking is not abusive." As my opponent pointed out that "immoral" is subjective, so is this statement. Ask a parent who uses DCP if they abuse their children and they will most certainly say no. Ask their children if their parents abuse them and their response may tell a different story. This is a gray area, as the distinction between physical punishment and abuse has never been clear.
Next, my opponent writes "Spanking does not have an effect on a child's mental health." I have provided ample evidence to show this claim is false.
The final words of my opponent's argument writes "Parents that love their children and are involved in their lives may use spanking, but they will never use spanking in a way that harms their children." Never? In 2013, over 600,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect, with 27.3% of victims under three (3) years of age (http://www.acf.hhs.gov...). Imagine how many of these cases began with "harmless" DCP, and then eventually escalated to something extreme.
While reading, I struggled to find a single reason to take my opponent"s second source of argument seriously, especially when the page title is called "But the Experts Say..." (http://www.angelfire.com...). First, the author provides no credentials on his "about" page. All he says is "I'm a student of education and psychology with an advanced degree in psychology." He doesn't even say where he got his education. The three sources that he used to justify DCP (which my opponent pasted at the bottom of round two) are around two decades old. My oldest source is from 2009. While this doesn't mean my sources are better only because they are more recent, newer studies tend to increase in accuracy due to better technology and new methods.
Aside from the overwhelming consensus from accredited researchers that DCP is both ineffective and detrimental to children's health, attempting to teach children right from wrong by inflicting pain just doesn't make sense, especially given that a lot of these children are very young and are not able to fully comprehend the situation. I believe that the only reason DCP is still practiced today is not because parents believe it is moral or that it works, but simply because it is the way many people have been raised. They believe that it is the correct thing to do when they finally have children of their own.
I eagerly await my opponent's response.
My opponent is simply arguing more on a "emotional" level than an actual factual level.
My opponent first states " When a child is beaten for poor behavior, they rarely learn why their behavior was wrong" My opponent doesn't seem to think that when a child is corrected, they are usually not spanked for no reason what-so-ever, parents generally tell the child not to do that, and then they may receive a spanking in return. But, if my opponent wants to make this about the Bible, then we should also see that spanking is infact okay. "Don't fail to correct your children. They won't die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death" (Proverbs 23:13-14, NLT). If my opponent want to make this about the bible, then my scripture completely contradicts his. His scripture is simply wrong because he does not understand it.
My opponent then wants to claim that the bible is the reason for DCP. He states that “Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell” (Proverbs 23:14). Regardless of its origin, DCP continues to be practiced around the world. Its use takes multiple forms, but the most common include spanking, paddling and whipping the child’s buttocks or the back." This is complete non-sense. I'm pretty sure parents who don't believe in God still discipline their children, weather the Bible is true or not. If you are for DCP, its not just because you belive in the Bible, though that may be one factor. But, you simply could agree to DCP depending on:
-how you were raised
-what you were taught
-how you believe your child should be raised.
My opponent seems to think that children don't learn anything from a physical disciple. Generally, when you get spanked, you don't want to ever be spanked again, therefore you will do what is right. If parents were to just verbally discipline their children, the children would be more likely to do what is wrong again because there is no major consequence.
My opponent also seems to think that whatever discipline you give your child, you are merely beating them.
First, let's note that there is a huge difference between beating, and discipline.
Beat- strike (a person or an animal) repeatedly and violently so as to hurt or injure them, usually with an implement such as a club or whip
Discipline- control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior.
Now that we have distinguished the difference between the 2 words...
My opponent seems to think that no matter *how* you discipline your child, they will be mentally, unhealthy.
 There's also the issue of intent. "A parent who spanks as a form of discipline is quite different from one who strikes with the goal of injuring a child," argues Dr. Trumbull. "Clearly, the long-term effects will be vastly different in these two instances." For this reason, he contends, studies that lump openhanded spanking with potentially abusive methods, like kicking, face-slapping, or paddling with painful objects, are misleading.
As lots of my sources have shown, the benefits of spaking do the child a great amount of good, especially when they get older.
 Spanking is like milk: It does a body good — or at least a mind. No, this isn’t the conclusion of traditionalist parenting expert Dr. James Dobson but the finding of a study conducted by psychology professor Marjorie Gunnoe at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. FoxNews.com reports on the story, writing, “According to the research, children spanked up to the age of 6 were likely as teenagers to perform better at school and were more likely to carry out volunteer work and to want to go to college than their peers who had never been physically disciplined.”
 Common sense tells us some other things as well. For one thing, we often hear that corporal punishment is damaging because it “teaches violence,” a nonsensical assertion if ever there were one (I completely refute this notion here). It is ironic, too, given that those who promote this idea are generally evolutionists who believe man to simply be a highly evolved animal. After all, can you think of an animal that doesn’t at times use violence? Animals use it in defense of self and territory, to kill prey, to win females, and sometimes simply because they’re angry. Hey, even Bambi is guilty. I read a while back about a deer that attacked a man, impaling the fellow with his antlers. Yet, evolutionists would have us believe that somehow, magically, man is the only “animal” who ended up with the Gandhi gene while “evolving” in this violent world.
Of course, in reality, as even cursory observation of babies and toddlers informs, it’s more like the Attila the Hun gene. When they have tantrums, they will often lash out, hitting, biting, and pulling hair. Hey, they will cry and scream without that behaviour being modeled for them, either.
Despite this, some would have us believe that parents can control these often violent, disagreeable little creatures without occasional recourse to physical action themselves. These experts tell us that if you have to resort to such a tactic, there is something wrong with your parenting ability. This is an interesting theory. If it is valid, we can save ourselves a heck of a lot of money.
My opponent seems to think that when a parents disciplines their child, they're intentions are to hurt the child greatly, this is not the case. Its to merely teach the child a lesson.
If a parent beats a child, that is another issue. That is simply child abuse. If a parent spanks a childs hand, is this abuse?
I would like to ask my opponent to argue more on a discipline side. He seems to think that all parents who discipline their children are merely child abusers, and that isn't right, nor fair.
Con writes that I want to make this debate about the Bible, implying that I was trying to use the Bible to show that DCP is not acceptable. This is a poor understanding of what I said. I selected that Bible verse as a way of showing why people do accept DCP. We"re on the same side, Con! We both believe the Bible condones DCP. And of course not all parents who use DCP are Christian. That was just part of my introduction of DCP, showing that there are multiple reasons people see DCP as acceptable, one of them being religious reasons. Personally, I don"t believe we should be relying on an ancient book to be good parents, but this is getting into a different debate.
My opponent writes "Generally, when you get spanked, you don't want to ever be spanked again, therefore you will do what is right." Except spanking does not teach what is right. It only teaches that this particular act was wrong. Knowing what is wrong is not the same as knowing what is right. If a child was spanked for stealing money from the kitchen drawer, the child knows not to do it again. But does that mean it is ok to steal money from his friend"s house? After all, he is neither taking money from his parents nor is he in the same house, thus the same rules don"t apply, right? The child usually doesn"t learn why certain behaviors are bad after a spanking, only don"t do this and don"t do that.
Con then makes the distinction between beating and discipline. Through DCP, parents strike their child repeatedly in a way that hurts them, sometimes with a belt or whip. This aligns with Con"s definition of beating. I would define beating as hurting someone for the sole purpose of hurting them. Call it whatever you"d like; I am arguing that it is wrong to hurt a child as a means of teaching them right from wrong.
Con"s second source in round three writes "we often hear that corporal punishment is damaging because it "teaches violence," a nonsensical assertion if ever there were one." I ask my opponent to explain how this is nonsensical. What I see as nonsensical is hitting your child as a punishment for hitting his sister and expecting the boy to stop hitting people. Children look up to their parents; they are their role models. So it is to be expected that children will adopt similar behaviors from them, such as using violence as a way of sorting out problems.
Further down, the source makes an attempt at justifying DCP, saying "After all, can you think of an animal that doesn"t at times use violence?" This is such a weak argument. It is called an appeal to popularity. The author is saying that because all other animals are violent, it is ok for us to be violent too. And this makes it ok to be violent towards our children? Many parents who use DCP are very conservative and say things like "We aren"t monkeys! We're better than that!" Yet, to justify DCP they say "oh, that"s ok because other animals are violent to." This logic is disappointing.
Con requests that I argue more on a discipline side, claiming I view all parents who use DCP as child abusers. Please. I never said and never will say that every parent to ever spank their child is an abuser. The point I was trying to get across which my opponent may have misunderstood is phrased very well in my opponent"s source. "The committee's position is that spanking often evolves into abuse, which endangers a child's safety and can cause psychological damage" (http://www.parents.com...). What often begins as spanking can lose effectiveness over time, requiring harder and more painful strikes. The basic concept is that people have psychological and physical mechanisms which allows their mind and body to adapt to repetitive stimuli (ex. being able to sleep through the loud train that goes by your apartment every hour). Only when something new is introduced (greater pain) is a reaction elicited.
Con writes "As lots of my sources have shown, the benefits of [spanking] do the child a great amount of good, especially when they get older." Why does my opponent ignore the mounds of scientific proof that DCP is harmful, yet expects me to believe her sources? Seeing that Con will not accept the overwhelming consensus of researchers that DCP is ineffective and damaging, I am happy to temporarily assume that all the studies that have ever been done on the matter are bogus. I ask my opponent to please answer this: if children can be raised properly without DCP (and many are), what practical benefits come from DCP? My opponent"s own source states the following. "There's no reason to get physical with a child when other discipline tactics are more effective" such as verbal reprimands (though not yelling), taking away privileges, and giving time-outs to deal with the misbehavior" (http://www.parents.com...). What"s wrong with no TV for a week? No dessert tonight? No treat with your lunch tomorrow?
I ask my opponent to explain why there must be pain in order for children to learn good decision making. Why must a child physically suffer? If parents set boundaries for their children and gradually teach them about making wise choices, the notion of empathy, and the Golden Rule, the child will likely gain a stronger understanding of right and wrong. Pain and fear is not necessary and should not be used to discipline children.
Pro simply didn't understand the Bible verse I provided. The Bible verse I did provide *encouraged* spanking. It didn't condone it. Again, the scripture stated ""Don't fail to correct your children. They won't die if you spank them. Physical discipline may well save them from death" (Proverbs 23:13-14, NLT). Obviously as you can see, Pro is the one who misunderstood my scripture, because my scripture actually advocates DCP.
My opponent states "spanking does not teach what is right. It only teaches that this particular act was wrong. Knowing what is wrong is not the same as knowing what is right". This is false. When a child commits wrong, they are generally told why are going to be disciplined, and that they should not repeat their poor decisions. Then comes the discipline, and this helps the child make better decisions because they don't want to be disciplined again. It also teaches children discipline.
Again, we can distinguish the difference between the word "beat" and "discipline"
--Beat- strike (a person or an animal) repeatedly and violently so as to hurt or injure them, usually with an implement such as a club or whip
--Discipline- control that is gained by requiring that rules or orders be obeyed and punishing bad behavior.
There is a major difference between these two definitions. I would like my opponent to explain how slapping a child's hand is considered beating. Again, my opponent keeps linking DCP to "beating children" and this is not the case. If it was, all parents who have spanked their children, or disciplined them would be put in jail and charged with child abuse, but that isn't the case at all.
Nonsensical meaning statements have little, or no value. My sources that I have provided in the 2nd round, go to show that spanking your children causes violence is in fact, a myth. So, the statement about spanking resulting in anger later on in life is a myth.
First off, it's unreasonable, and not fair to say that parents make their children "suffer" if they discipline their own children. Lets define "suffer"
The world is already full of pain and violence. There is no reason to bring that into a child"s life, let alone at such a young age. Children can learn right from wrong without fear and without pain; it happens all the time. Why not consider this route instead?
I thank Rosalie for accepting my debate. It was quite interesting!
Again, the topic was "Domestic Corporal Punishment is Always Immoral" Pro did not once prove to us that DCP is immoral. Instead, he just shoowed us what the effects DCP had on a child. Yet, my sources proved that DCP did not have any negative impact on a child what-so-ever.
The resolution was subjective, and Pro argued more on a emotional basis that factual. He continually claimed that DCP was beating a child, which I proved to be wrong because if parents who physically disciplined their children, they would be in jail for "abuse", but since DCP is not abuse as my opponent claims, I win.
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