The case for spanking:

The case is simple: it works. It works because it instils fear, and the fear of further punishment helps to deter misbehaviour in the future and to suppress the desires that lead to misbehaviour.

There are studies showing that the more severely mothers punish their children for antisocial behaviour, the less antisocial aggression their children display at the age of 12.

Some children do respond merely to verbal disapproval and non-physical punishment but others are so unruly that the only way to control them is by inflicting real pain. Physical punishment is the only thing kids like this understand. In these cases, the old maxim "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is as true today as it was in nineteenth century England. (The "rod" here is a nice flexible piece of bamboo cane just right for giving a kid a good whack across the part of his body that he will then find it difficult to sit on.)

It is a mistake to think that children should be accorded the same rights as adults. If you are out in a bar at night and someone who is behaving badly ignores your request for him to improve his behaviour, it would be wrong to go over and give him a firm slap.

Children are a completely different kettle of fish because they require an education. The state compels them to go to school (adults are not compelled to work by law). The moral education that children ought to receive in the home is something else that children must be compelled to acquire. To accomplish this, parents have to lay down moral rules and enforce them, resorting to corporal punishment where necessary. As long as the child starts to see right from wrong no harm is done.

Professor David Lykken from the University of Minnesota has written a book about anti-social personalities. In it, he likens socialising children to training his puppy, Willy:

"Willy is slowly coming to realise that I am bigger and stronger than he is and that he will have to do what I say in the end. I have had to smack him a few times to get the point across."

The principle that punishment suppresses unwanted behaviour holds for humans, too.

A similar point of view is also shared by the European Commission of Human Rights. In a recent case in which a father admitted repeatedly caning his 12 year old son the court decided that there had been no breach of the European Convention on Human Rights which bars "inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." The judges accepted the father's defence that he was merely correcting the child and that the correction was moderate both in its manner and quality.

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