November 2nd, 2010
One of the most controversial issues among today’s society revolves around the use of corporal punishment on children, which is better known as the spanking argument. On one side stand the conservative psychologists, doctors, and parents who believe that a good smack on the buttocks is appropriate in guiding children and parents have the right to family privacy. The other side consists of psychologists, doctors, and parents who believe that any form of physical punishment used on children is abusive and needs to be put to an immediate stop. Two Doctors of Medicine wrote two different articles on this subject expressing their opinions on the matter. The first is an article entitled Should Spanking a Child Be Unlawful, written by Dr. Gregory K. Fritz, which expressed how he believes that spanking should not be made unlawful. Opposed to his opinion, Dr. Carole Jenny refuted his article with an article of her own entitled Spanking Should Not Be Lawful, expressing how she firmly believes that spanking should be declared illegal in order to stop child abuse. Both Dr. Fritz and Dr. Jenny believe that spanking is immoral and that stopping it help guide the end of child abuse, how ever they both hold very different opinions on solving the matter.
In the beginning of his article, Dr. Fritz immediately makes it known that he believes there are two sides of the physical punishment spectrum where one end is labeled as the incidents of spanking that are delivered by a loving parent. On this end of the spectrum, Dr. Fritz makes a conscious effort to describe these actions as performed non-abusive and controlled. Placed at the other end of the spectrum is the life threatening child abuse that has become the controversial issue today. Dr. Fritz believes that one problem that stands with most scholarly studies about child abuse is that they are biased in the sense that they label the effects of abusive spanking under the effects of controlled, non-abusive spanking, giving the effect that spanking cannot be anything but abusive. Using examples of researchers such as Robert Larzalere and Diana Baumrind, Dr. Fritz states that “when physical punishment that is severe, or [is] the primary type of discipline employed, or [is] delivered impulsively by an angry, out of control parent are all excluded from analyses…the findings are remarkably different” (Fritz par. 8). By taking out the incidents of when a parent has spanked their child in a controlled and guiding manner and seeing that such discipline does not leave long term effects on the child would show researchers that the victim rate of child abuse decreases rapidly.
Opposed to this idea, Dr. Carole Jenny believes that it is the very nature of spanking that causes all the long and short term effects on children, such as aggressive behavior towards other children, altruism, sexuality problems, and antisocial behavior. Dr. Jenny is a supporter of the studies done by researchers and believes that all of the studies done on child abuse are accurate and show that any form of physical punishment, especially spanking, is the overwhelming cause of psychological and physical issues with many children. She supports her opinion and challenges Fritz’ idea that the studies are biased by comparing the abuse of children to the abuse of wives. Dr. Jenny states that:
if this is acceptable, why don’t we conduct research to prove that beating one’s wife is an effective way to control her behavior, especially if you tell her you love her and that you are beating her for her own good, once the beating is over? (Jenny par. 8) This analogy of beating one’s wife is Jenny’s illustration of the stronger force abusing the physically weaker force, which shows that when a parent punishes a child they are only doing so because they have no fear of the child hitting them back, thus enforcing the behavior that they wish to come from the child.