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Spanking sends the wrong signal.

Spanking children for wrongdoing has been eliminated from most schools. With child abuse so much on people's minds, many parents are refraining from spanking their offspring at home, as well. In this increasing trend of not picking up the paddle to punish kids, has one important weapon in the parents' arsenal for disciplining youngsters been eliminated, perhaps resulting in even more unruly children?

"Essentially, it's never really necessary to spank children," maintains Eugene Walker, a psychologist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. "Anybody who uses spanking frequently with a child quickly discovers two things--one, that it doesn't work, because children eventually get used to it, and, two, that if you use spanking very often, it usually worsens the child's behavior because [he or she] gets angry and hostile, and the ordeal becomes a power struggle."

He indicates that parents and teachers better can help youngsters by meting out more appropriate punishment. Grounding a youngster from activities, isolating a student from peers, taking privileges away to be earned back, having a parent sit in the classroom with his or her offspring, suspending the child, or having the student do extra work are all appropriate forms of positive discipline.

"When you use physical punishment, you don't really teach [kids] very much except that you are bigger and stronger than they are. If the punishment and correction are more constructive, the child learns faster and behaves better. If you're playing a game, for instance, and you're only told when you do something wrong, it takes you a lot longer to learn the game than if someone says, 'That's not correct, but here's the right way to do it.' Spanking or hitting tells the child, 'That's wrong,' but it doesn't go further and explain what is right."

Violence also begets violence. "If you hit a child, the message .. is that you solve problems by physically attacking the other person. This perpetuates violence. We often get into the bind of spanking children because they were hitting each other, which sends a mixed signal and confuses [them]."

Walker suggests the only time a "swat" might be needed is if children do something dangerous, such as running out into the street. "If they continually do that, you may need to give them a swat on the bottom and put them back into the yard and say, 'No.' If you don't suppress that behavior immediately, they'll get hurt."

Spanking is a humiliating experience for children, he points out. If the child is taught a better way to behave through more appropriate discipline, he or she will feel better because of having learned a lesson. "The question is, do you want to approach your child as some sort of enemy that you have to get even with every time he or she does something wrong? Or, do you approach your child as someone you love and care about, who needs to learn and develop in a non-threatening environment?"
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Title Annotation:spanking children
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 1993
Previous Article:Diversity programs cause headaches.
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