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The Contender
Con (against)
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Spanking children is a necessity.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,766 times Debate No: 40902
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
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This debate, is on the necessity on the disciplinary action of spanking children, first round is just acceptance, then its on.


I do not think it is necessary to spank children. Debate accepted. Over to you, Pro!
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to say that finding any links that may be found online are extremely hard to find, so I will have a limited amount of facts to go off of, I'm sorry in advanced.

#1. The spanking in schools.
Ok fist things first, I would like to address the the year 1970, not long ago I'm sure, but in the year 1970 rules where strict, and punishment was a giant part of life, in schools teachers could slap your hand, give you the paddle, and even spank children bare handed, and for what? Well breaking the rules of course, so theoretically after getting spanked, the child would not break that rule again, and in turn grow up knowing the difference between right and wrong, and of course taking a correct path into a good path. The downfall to schools spanking children, was that some schools where ruthless, and instead of a disciplinary spanking, the beat children, and in turn all but nine states have made spankings in school illegal. but the moral of this paragraph is that when spankings happened in schools, children grew up following the rules, and taking a good approach into adulthood.

#2 Spankings by parents.
Ok I'm going into great detail on this one, let me give a scenario, "its a late evening you have 2 children and a husband/wife and said husband/wife is at work. you need to go to sleep for you have work in the morning, so you casually tell your children to go to bed, and the statement riles both the children up, making it even harder for you to control the situation" STOP 2 things can happen right here, as a parent you give up and let your kids stay awake until they fall asleep, repercussions: a slight chance of a job lost, these said children now know that they can persuade you to let them do anything, so in a long term your kid deals pot, you don't like it but you know your letting he/she do it anyway, until they get thrown in jail for however long. Second thing you can raise your voice, which just may not do anything at all, because face it you debating me the point that you don't want to spank children, so the children know you cant follow up with a spanking, any way lets proceed. " You now raise you voice and demand that the 2 children should go to bed or get ready for bed, one child complies because he/she knows that the parent knows best, the other child on the other hand, does not and begins to scream, and throw a fit." This is the best time to tell the child to stop or he/she will get a spanking, or be put in the corner. Now think about it, the kid could resist being in a corner, or a time out, and now your out of options, so what do you do?? Well the child will learn quick and easy that what he did was wrong (due to the fact that he was disobedient) when said parent spanks him/her, and the next time it happens the child will know that what he/she might do may get him/her spanked, and therefore he/she will stop. As a result the child will learn manners, politeness, and even in some circumstances, how to avoid an injury. This said, spanking becomes a necessity to teach the child obedience, which is needed as when they grow up, even though they know they may not be spanked anymore, they now know it was or it is the wrong thing to do.

#3 The Past.
I am not going into this debate saying that a "beating" is a "spanking" in fact they are completely different in meanings, so as to say in the past children where beat, by there parents, for a long list of reasons, but each child grew up knowing the difference between right and wrong.

#4 What we learn when spanked.
When we are spanked we get allot of discipline, and in the long run, we learn the difference between right and wrong, a simple no cant stop your child from doing anything, a simple empty threat will not help a parent, spoiling your child tells the child that there is no right and wrong, and taking away items, all kids find ways around to getting what they want, until they are spanked.

I am truly sorry for no back up links. as the Internet search engines, can only find reasons why spanking is bad, I am here to argue otherwise.


Thanks to Pro for a clear and interesting set of arguments. Also, given the unfortunate state of the pro-spanking literature, I'd echo Pro's sentiment in advising readers to go easy on pro's lack of citations when voting. :-) Let the better arguments win!

First, I want to make some preliminary comments. (After that I will advance some positive arguments for my case. Finally I will respond to Pro's arguments, point by point.)
I think Pro's case for the necessity of spanking cannot be convincing if it only tells us that (a) spanking has some good effects (e.g. teaching obedience, etc.) Pro also needs to show that (b) spanking is the ONLY way we can achieve those outcomes, and (c) the side-effects of spanking aren't so bad as to make it an unacceptable form of discipline (no matter how useful we might think it is). E.g. if spanking caused obedience but we could have taught obedience through non-violent means, surely that shows that spanking is not necessary. Or, if spanking caused obedience but also caused serious long-term emotional side effects, that also shows that spanking is not necessary"in fact it might be impermissible. In what follows I will argue that spanking meets neither (b) nor (c).

Spanking does not meet requirement (b) above. Empirical evidence suggests that whenever non-violent methods *fail* to work, spanking and other violent methods would fail as well; and whenever spanking works, other non-violent methods would have worked as well. Therefore, spanking is never necessary if one wants to discipline a child.
First of all let"s be clear: what counts as successful discipline? I take it that successful discipline doesn"t just teach a child not to misbehave there and then, but also to learn not to misbehave in the future.
So, what about Pro"s objection that in some scenarios spanking succeeds where others fail? Empirical evidence suggests otherwise. According to a study by Larzelere, Shneider, Larson, and Pike (1996, quoted in Straus 2005: 144), all punishments (including spanking) tend to fail at an equal rate. The study concerned disobedience and fighting among young toddler-age children. No matter which punishment was used (including spanking), within the very same day 80% of children would misbehave again by disobedience and fighting.
Now of course, the above study is just one kind of case, and there are plenty of other situations in which spanking does succeed in teaching a lesson of obedience. But in these scenarios, the empirical evidence suggests that spanking was not necessary to teach the lesson. My evidence is from Murray Straus (2005: 144) who cites a study of toddlers in which parents are assigned a random form of punishment. Some toddlers get locked in a room, others get spanked. Both learn to stop misbehaving after a while, just as long as the punishment is done consistently. The lesson is that successful discipline consists in being consistent, not in "using the right amount of force".
To conclude this argument: spanking is never necessary because other forms of punishment would work just as well"whether it be (in young children) a reward system, or (in older children) negotiating and explaining. To be sure, there are some cases in which it"s as if every form of discipline you try fails. But in that case, empirical evidence suggests that spanking will fail as well.

Spanking does not meet requirement (c) above. Empirical evidence strongly suggests that spanking has bad effects that far outweigh the good effects. As I have already argued, we should not treat actions as "necessities" if their bad effects far outweigh the good effects (it would be like arguing for the necessity of a nuclear strike on New York City, in order to stop an outbreak of contagious flu). Therefore, spanking is not a necessity.
Now, what is the empirical evidence? Well, there are many, many professional articles written by psychologists and sociologists documenting the bad effects of spanking. I'll just one of them here, Elizabeth Gershoff (2002). Gershoff used over 80 independent empirical studies of children, as well as 10 "meta-studies" (studies of empirical studies), to arrive at the following conclusions. Firstly, parental corporal punishment (i.e. spanking, beating and other forms of physical punishment) has ONLY ONE good effect: "increased immediate compliance" (Gershoff 2002: 550). What about the bad effects? Gershoff states that they are as follows (I briefly explain why I think spanking causes these effects while I"m at it):
(i) "decreased moral internalization" increased adult aggression, increased adult criminal and antisocial behavior, decreased adult mental health, and increased risk of abusing own child or spouse": This is to be expected because physical intimidation like spanking does not explain to the child what is wrong with the behavior. Thus, the child simply learns not to misbehave when the parent is around, and when the parent is threatening. If a child refrains from misbehavior only because of physical intimidation then they misbehave even more once the parent is gone, and once the parent is no longer intimidating (i.e. when the child has become an adult).
(ii) "decreased quality of relationship between parent and child" decreased child mental health, increased risk of being a victim of physical abuse". We can expect this because spanking causes negative emotions. Excessive spanking (which usually follows from spanking, due to its lack of long term success) causes excessive negative emotions. The child associates those emotions with the parent. This interferes with the building of relationship, with learning and with emotional health, and with building of self-worth.
(iii) "increased child delinquent and antisocial behavior". Again, not unexpected. Consider: the alternative to spanking is negotiating, explaining, compromising. By spanking, the parent deprives the child of learning how to engage in these skills. This increases the likelihood of antisocial behaviour.
To me these effects are good enough evidence to show that the bad effects of spanking outweigh the good ones. Pro needs to give us good reasons to reject this evidence, in order to refute this argument.
There"s no principled way of drawing the line at spanking. If spanking is permissible, then why not more vicious forms of 'discipline', like assault and so on? (Imagine the parent who says: "wow, my child is no longer responding with obedience even to my beatings... why not a veiled death threat (I won't go through with it of course) for the next time? That'll show him." Pro has to explain to us why the buck stops with beating/spanking.

Having outlined my arguments I"ll offer some brief comments on pro"s arguments/points and why I think they fail, in light of the considerations I have already given.
(#1) "when spankings happened in schools, children grew up following the rules, and taking a good approach into adulthood".
"This is a fairly strong claim (whether it"s meant to be general or specifically about US schools in the 1970s). First of all Pro has cited no evidence for this claim other than his own assertion. In the absence of evidence it seems unlikely to be true, given the empirical data I"ve cited. Secondly, even if it were true it doesn"t say anything about whether it was spanking that caused the good behavior. Thirdly, even if spanking caused the good behavior it would still be unnecessary and unacceptable, if my above arguments are correct.
(#2) "Spanking [is] a necessity to teach the child obedience".
"My argument (I) says that this claim is not right. Pro thus needs to refute my argument (I) to show that his claim is tenable.
(#3) In the past, children who were beaten by their parents "grew up knowing the difference between right and wrong".
"Everything I said in response to Pro"s point (1) apply to this point as well.
(#4) "a simple empty threat will not help" spoiling your child tells the child there is no right and wrong, and taking away items, all kids find ways around to getting what they want, until they are spanked"
"Again, my argument (I) says that this is not right. There are other forms of discipline, such as reward systems that don"t involve spoiling (e.g. promising a reward only after a certain amount of good behavior). If all the alternatives fail, the empirical evidence suggests that spanking will fail as well, so spanking is not a reliable "last resort".

In my opinion, Pro is right that spanking has some good outcomes. E.g. it brings about obedience, at least in the short term. But this is not enough to show us that spanking is necessary or even acceptable in any circumstances. Pro needs to show that (b) spanking is the only way to achieve those outcomes, and (c) spanking doesn't also have bad outcomes that outweigh the good outcomes. In order to do so he needs to show us where my above arguments go wrong.


Gershoff, E. T. (2002). "Corporal punishment by parents and associated child behaviors and experiences: a meta-analytic and theoretical review." Psychological bulletin, 128(4), 539. Accessed at

Straus, M. A. (2005). "Children should never, ever, be spanked no matter what the circumstances." Current controversies on family violence, 137-157. Accessed at
Debate Round No. 2


Well, I thank you for your astounding knowledge of the English language, yet ill try my best to keep up.
In your First point I would like to point out that you said "spanking and other violent methods would fail as well"
yet spanking is not a violent method, spanking is a way to teach a child. as for all your arguments, NO other punishment is proved to work, where a spanking has been proven to work.

Sorry for the short passage, but work has been kicking me in the butt.

So as another argument on my part, spanking a child may have a small percent change in the mental health where grounding them may teach them they can get off easy in the real world.



To Pro: I didn't intend my language to come across as difficult or intentionally flowery/technical in any way. I hope that wasn't the impression I gave, and I'll be making an effort from now on to be as straightforward as possible. Also, no worries about the work, luckily I have the luxury of being a full time student. :-)


Recall the challenge I set for Pro in the end of my last post: It's NOT ENOUGH to show that spanking has some good benefits (which it undoubtedly may have). Pro needs to show firstly that spanking is the only way to achieve the good benefits in question, and secondly Pro needs to show that spanking has no disproportionately bad side-consequences.

As I have argued however, there are very strong reasons to think this is not the case!

Empirical evidence shows us that spanking is no more successful than other non-violent methods of discipline, such as using reward systems not to spoil children but rather to encourage disciplined behaviour. I cited two peer-reviewed empirical studies in support of this claim, Straus (2005) as well as Larzelere, Schneider, Larson and Pike (1996).

Has Pro given us any reason to reject this claim? None. Pro simply asserts in reply: "NO other punishment is proved to work, where a spanking has been proven to work." But the empirical studies I cited precisely claim to prove this! So unless Pro can cast doubt on these empirical studies, his assertion is absolutely unfounded.

Empirical evidence shows us that spanking has wide-ranging and disproportionately damaging consequences on children. Again, I cited an empirical study, Gershoff (2002). According to Gershoff, spanking (i) increases the likelihood of decreased moral awareness and internalisation in children that carries on into adulthood; (ii) decreases the quality of the relationship between parent and child; and (iii) increased anti-social and delinquent behaviour in children. See my previous post for the reasoning I offered to connect spanking with these consequences.

Again, has Pro given us any reason to reject this claim? Again, none. Pro says: "spanking a child may have a small percent change in the mental health where grounding them may teach them they can get off easy in the real world". But this is the same point Pro made earlier. He is basically saying that 'grounding' kids will teach a bad lesson, whereas spanking won't. However Pro has not considered the possibility of disciplinary methods other than grounding: for example, using a reward system as I mentioned earlier. And in any case, Pro's claim has been asserted with absolutely no evidence. As Christopher hitchens is fond of saying: "What is asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence" [1]. We must demand evidence from Pro if we want to believe his claims.

There seems to be no reason to think that if we allow spanking, we also shouldn't allow gradually stronger and stronger forms of violence against children. This is a 'slippery-slope' argument, but not all slippery-slope arguments are necessarily bad. (If you want evidence for this, see the Wikipedia entry on slippery slope arguments). To be honest, I don't think this third point of mine is very strong at all. But I leave it to Pro to debunk my point, if he so chooses.


In conclusion, I must say that there is very strong reason for us to think that spanking is wholly unnecessary, in light of the points above. Before entering this debate I did not actually know about all the empirical evidence revealing these facts about spanking. Now that I do, my opinion is much firmer. I urge you all to go Con on this debate!


[1] This is in fact not an original saying of Hitchens', but a popular axiom of the great medieval Scholastic philosophers.

*For full citations of other sources quoted in this post, cf. my previous post.
Debate Round No. 3


Linkish1O2 forfeited this round.


I'm sorry to see that Pro has forfeited his round. Carry all my previous points (which still stand).
Debate Round No. 4


Linkish1O2 forfeited this round.


Claritas forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Claritas 3 years ago
For some reason all the dashes (i.e. "-") in my post have been turned into apostrophes. Weird. Apologies for that curious mishap.
Posted by Linkish1O2 3 years ago
Are you saying that everyone in the past is poor, that is bad judgment on your part think before you spout something like that
Posted by Lisaknows 3 years ago
I have spanked my children in the past, and regretfully looking back, I can see it wasn't necessary. Usually parents give spankings because of their own stress or lack of parenting. If you are patient and have routines with your children, spankings are not needed. Children need communication, love, and role models to show them positive behaviors. There is a trend with spankings and that is usually poverty. People in poverty, stressful, and usually non routine living situations are at higher risk.
Posted by Claritas 3 years ago
Guyon I'm arguing against spanking in this debate but even I wouldn't go so far as to say it is 'cruel'. I know plenty of people (including family members) who were" spanked quite brutally. And they haven't turned out that bad. However, I agree with you that there are nonviolent ways that are just as effective.
Posted by GuyonMSC2014 3 years ago
I believe spanking children as a disciplinary action is unnecessary and cruel. First of all, I believe that punishing a child physically not only hurts the child physically but also mentally. I believe children can be punished in nonviolent ways that are just as effective, if not more effective than spanking.
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