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Smacking Children

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/20/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,648 times Debate No: 59211
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"When a big child hits a small child in the playground, we call him a bully; five years later he punches a woman for her handbag and is called a mugger; later still, when he slugs a workmate who insults him, he is called a troublemaker; but when he becomes a father and hits his tiresome, disobedient or disrespectful child, we call him a disciplinarian."
I believe that this quote that I have taken from 'Children First', a novel by Dr Penelope Leach, showcases the inconsistency in the protection that children have compared to men and women. What's your opinion?


I thank Nfernando for the opportunity to debate this topic.


Child: In regards to defining who is a child, the law indicates that it can vary, depending on the topic at hand. Otherwise, it is generally considered that any person under the age of 18 is a child [8].

Smack[ing] - A sharp slap or blow, typically one given with the palm of the hand [1].

For the purpose of this debate, I am going to be defending ‘a sharp slap’, rather than a blow. In particular, a sharp slap to anywhere but the face or genitals (bottom is preferable).

P1: Discipline is important

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry states that “all children need rules and expectations to help them learn appropriate behaviour” [9]. The organisation goes on to say that discipline is an absolute necessity of parenting, in that it helps establish appropriate behaviour in children, as well as morals and social understanding. marks discipline as one the most important aspects of becoming an adult. Whether it be social skills, emotional regulation or self-discipline, discipline is intertwined within all these aspects [4].

Another of’s articles suggests that discipline ultimately helps children make good decisions, by modelling what a good decision is. It should go without saying that adults who do not make good decisions are in for a world of trouble, so discipline is crucial in helping young people develop into adults who are capable of making good decisions. There is also suggestion that discipline helps children feel secure [5].

According to Supernanny, a television show designed to show expert advice in action, “one of the main parent pitfalls … is failing to set rules you don’t want to be too tough on your kids”. In regards to discipline, “the bottom line is that it helps your child feel secure and determines what kind of person he/she’ll grow up to be” [6]. Like in’s article, it is mentioned that helping you child “feel secure” is a reason to discipline your child.

A1: Smacking is a good discipline tool to have

Published in the journal: Parenting: Science and Practice, the study found that teenagers respond well to smacking, so long as the punishment comes from the “right place” (i.e. one of love, rather than retribution). Dr Miguelina German, the head author of the work, said that “the underlying belief that their parents love them protects against feelings of rejection, even when being harshly disciplined” [2].

Research has traditionally shown that “authoritative” parenting, when combined with high expectations of children via sensitivity and warmth, results more often in “competent” children (study by researchers from London’s Institute of Education, 2009) [2].

In 1996, a published review of child outcomes related to non-abusive or customary physical punishment, said that, “only eight studies could disentangle the causal effects of smacking. All eight studies, including four randomised clinical trials, found that nonabusive smacking benefited children when it backed up milder disciplinary tactics with children aged 2 to 6 years” [3]. I emphasise that “milder disciplinary tactics” means lighter smacking that is not malicious, rather than anything that damages long-term.

Furthermore, in the same 1996 journal, it was found that only grounding was more effective than smacking, as a form of disciplinary action [3]. Since I have already shown that discipline is a very important part of child development, smacking should clearly be considered as good, so long as it is done in the right way.

In their research, Kerr et al. found in that, “less frequent use of physical punishment generally were associated with higher levels of moral regulation and fewer externalizing problems” [7]. Notice how they state that “less frequent use of physical punishment” resulted in more desirable result, meaning that physical punishment still has its place in child development, it is just that it should not be overdone.

I maintain that lighter, loving smacking, wherein malicious intent is nowhere to be found, is good for children.




[3] Larzelere RE, A review of the outcomes of parental use of nonabusive or customary physical punishment.Pediatrics. 1996 Oct; 98(4 Pt 2):824-8.




[7] David C. R. Kerr, Nestor L. Lopez, Sheryl L. Olson, Arnold J. Sameroff, Parental Discipline and Externalizing Behavior Problems in Early Childhood: The Roles of Moral Regulation and Child Gender, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, August 2004, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 369-383 [8]


Debate Round No. 1


Nfernando forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


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Debate Round No. 3
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2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Conduct - Pro. Although both forfeited at the end, it was Con who forfeited the most and therefore has conduct points deducted from her side. Arguments - Pro. Con failed to present any real arguments, rather than just sharing statements and then asking for an opinion. Because of this, Pro wins arguments. Sources - Pro. She was the only one to actually utilize sourcing throughout this debate.
Vote Placed by GOP 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF

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