The Roots of Corporal Punishment

The Roots of Corporal Punishment

Kelsee Woods, Reporter


“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” The Bible plainly quotes in Proverbs 13:24 (NIV). Many religious groups have hidden behind this verse as their main defense to corporal punishment. The idea of such creates controversial debates on the disciplining children. Position on the issue derives from one’s morals and cultural background.

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Pushing the debate to the forefront, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Petterson was indicted on felonies of child abuse charges. The incident has been both supported and shunned by many people with valid reasons.

“I’m from the South. Whipping — we do that all the time.” Former NBA player Charles Barkley stated. The correlation of being southern and African-American has been linked to corporal punishment being more evident in choice of discipline.

There are drastic regional differences in spanking. ABC News’ national sample states that 62% of all southerners spank their children and that percentage drops to 41 in the rest of the country.

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A 2012 statistic found that 74% of African-American women and 90% of African-American men agreed with the statement sometimes it is necessary to discipline a child with a “good whoopin”. These percentages were slightly higher than any other ethnic group.

Many black adults speak of being spanked throughout their childhood and take pride in the lessons they learned. “I was spanked, and I turned out OK” former NBA player Greg Anthony said.

Low income and less education have been associated with harsh punishment as well. These factors thrive in more urban areas of the country.

Even still, is this form of discipline harming children or hurting communities? Where is the line drawn between discipline and child abuse? It has been said Peterson’s son was left with many bleeding wounds and scratches covering his legs. Would his son not have learned the lesson by a few stern paddles on his butt instead? Are there any restrictions when it comes to such a controversial issue?

Perhaps the line should be drawn when the child grasps their wrong doings. It is possible to get the lesson across with a few paddles. It should be understood that the punishment should be done out of love and not anger. I feel as though spanking is acceptable until it harms the child physically. Harsh beatings could change the child’s perspective to questioning the parent’s intention.