The ethics of corporal punishment, explained

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Realistically, violence can never be fully eradicated on earth. Those who say otherwise live in their own utopian fantasy, disconnected from reality. Nevertheless, peace should adamantly be the goal of any virtuous person.

It is not pleasant to have a strongly held opinion invalidated. Like a Band-Aid, ripped off, it exposes the foul sore of falsehood underneath. Despite tranquil satisfaction in the familiar, one should always strive toward truth. It was Socrates who once said, “follow the argument, wherever it may lead,” though it may not lead somewhere comfortable.

Surely the first abolitionist was ostracized from his community, scorned at every opportunity and plotted against by foes previously called friends. Should William-Lloyd Garrison have ceased printing “The Liberator”? Nonsense. Truth is the pursuit of pursuits! Veracity comes at a cost – tradition may be shown obsolete, routine practices found immoral.

Progress through history has never been tame – only the radical challenges the status quo.

Though spanking one’s children is a practice embedded in culture like mortar and brick, an open mind and a willingness to pursue virtue is necessary to ameliorate mankind and jettison dissolution.

Children’s developing brains soak up their environment like sponges and adapt to change. Science has repeatedly proven that violent behavior, physical pain and trauma affect development so drastically that dysfunction is not only common but almost expected. Yet, nearly all of society around the world employ violent behavior, physical pain and harm the brains of their children in the name of discipline.

In ancient times, the wife was property of her husband, an item to be beaten, raped, divorced or murdered without reproach or legal repercussions. During the 15th century, the Roman Catholic Church endorsed spousal abuse and argued that beating showed concern for a wife’s soul. Presently, domestic abuse is nearly universally repudiated and disavowed by all.

If a modern study that revealed two-thirds of husbands strike their spouses at least once per day for things like “supper being too cold,” or “the beer being too warm,” media coverage would be never-ending, political leaders would publicly reject this behavior and such would be the conversation on every tongue. Although science is – and has been – nearly universally conclusive for almost 30 years about the toxicity of corporal punishment and its effects on the brain, the news goes unreported and politicians fall silent.

Domestic violence, albeit an archaic, disgusting practice that lacks all vindication, is comparatively morally insignificant to the wicked violence against babies, toddlers, and young children. Before a husband and wife get married, they have the opportunity to get to know each other. Some couples even date for years before deciding to marry.

A wife can leave a relationship whenever she desires. A baby, on the other hand, comes into the world involuntarily, without the ability to select or choose their parents. Children cannot leave their home – they have no independence and cannot support themselves. Hitting a wife is despicable, hitting a teenager is vicious, hitting a toddler is ruthless, but striking an infant – for any reason whatsoever – is complete and utter barbarism.

The average height of an adult woman is 5’5” tall, translating to more than triple the size of a baby. In one moment, parents speak love to their child, but in the next, they strike them. In what moral, peace-loving world could such cruelty be tolerated?

Current laws in the U.S. permit spanking and legal provisions against violence and abuse are not interpreted as prohibiting all corporal punishment. Slavery was legal at one point – the law does not constitute morality.

The common argument in favor of corporal punishment, “I was spanked and I turned out fine” is fundamentally flawed. Not all smokers die from smoking-induced illness, but that certainly does not deem it a safe and healthy practice.

In order to substantially prevent dysfunction, peaceful parenting is an amazing start; however, it doesn’t solve everything. A nonviolent marriage is certainly better than an abusive one, but it doesn’t mean it won’t end in divorce. The ACE study analyzes not only physical abuse but also mental and emotional trauma. A proper parent-child relationship needs to be peaceful, but it also it needs love and emotional support.

No mother or father is given a parenting guide upon the birth of their child; however, they should attempt to educate themselves. People save money for vacation; take out loans to buy lawn mowers and to remodel their house. If massive amounts of money are spent on something as trivial as lawn equipment, the money could certainly be spent on parenting books, counseling or any other resources necessary in the peaceful upbringing of a child. Of how much more importance is the development – and future life – of a child than a cruise to Hawaii?

Photo courtesy of americanspcc.org.

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