Corpun file 18775
Hartford Courant, Connecticut, 31 January 2007
Anti-Spanking Proposals Are Work Of Ideologues, Zealots
By John Rosemond
California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber has proposed a law that
would prohibit parental spanking of children younger than 4. Her
proposal would make spanking a child 3 and younger a crime
punishable by a fine and/or jail time.
"I think it's pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child
3 years old or younger," said Lieber.
I agree with that. In fact, I'll expand that to include children
of any age. But, of course, Lieber is using "beat" to
mean any swat to a child's rear parts, and in so doing she is
revealing a predilection for emotional hyperactivity, the
province of the demagogue.
Every state prohibits the beating of children. To make the claim
that a spanking constitutes child abuse is nothing short of
stupid, but then the argument over spanking has devolved into a
shouting match between adherents of two equally untenable, stupid
positions. On the one hand, there are zealots like Sally Lieber;
on the other, zealots who do not take the time to do proper
Biblical study and believe that spanking is a demonstration of
While a recent guest on "Good Morning America," I was
informed by a fellow participant in the shout-fest that the
research shows a clear link between spanking and violent
behavior. Yes, that's true, but the primary researcher in
question, Murray Straus, is an ideologue who uses
"science" as a front for his political agenda, which is
to see spanking outlawed worldwide. Straus's bias pollutes his
research and caused his former graduate research assistant,
Robert Larzelere, to openly break with him.
Larzelere, now a fellow at the Girls and Boys Town National
Research Institute for Child and Family Studies, has conducted
some of the most objective research on the subject. He finds no
adverse effect from occasional spankings delivered by parents who
cherish their children.
Another prominent and non-ideological researcher, Diana Baumrind
of the University of California, finds that children who are
occasionally spanked score higher on measures of adjustment than
children who have never been spanked.
As for the link between spanking and aggression, one group of
researchers found that the most reliable predictor of child
aggression was parental permissiveness.
Since 1965, as the number of parents who spank has declined, so
has child mental health. So much for Lieber's argument. But we
should not expect her to listen to reason. She is, after all, a
zealot. Facts will not matter to her. To demonstrate this, I
hereby offer to debate her on neutral ground (the floor of the
California state legislature?) at my own expense. I won't hold my
Lieber probably believes herself to be a champion for children.
In fact, she may be doing children a grave disservice.
In a study conducted 10 years after implementation of
anti-spanking laws in Sweden, Larzelere found that child abuse
had actually increased. Along the same lines, Baumrind has found
that parents who do not believe in spanking are more likely to
explode abusively at their children than parents who believe
spankings are OK.
For anti-spanking hysterics, California is only a test case. The
real intent is to insert government into the parent-child
relationship and eliminate parental discretion in discipline.
Lieber's law, if passed, will put us on a slippery slope leading
straight to Hillary Clinton's collectivist "village,"
where the elite few - as wryly expressed by columnist Thomas
Sowell - "impose their superior wisdom and virtue on
A warning from Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941)
seems particularly appropriate: "The greatest dangers to
liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal,
well-meaning but without understanding."
John Rosemond is a family psychologist.
Copyright 2007, Hartford Courant
Follow-up: 23 February 2007 - Proposal to ban spanking is revised
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