LITTLE ROCK, Ark.– Many of us grew up with the occasional swat on the bottom.
Our parents hoped it would teach us right from wrong.
“Physically having them put pain onto your child, reaches that child way more than ‘go to your room.’ Kids like going to their room,” says Brandon Harper.
Others claim spanking simply doesn’t work.
“It’s the easy way out to me,” says Deanna Smith.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released its strongest worded policy statement warning spanking is harmful and ineffective. In fact, pediatricians say it can make kids more aggressive in the long run and developmental health disorders and cognitive problems.
“It just boggles my mind because to me, it’s the parents allowing them to be aggressive. It’s allowing them to act out,” says Harper.
Brandon Harper, 37, is single with no kids. He disagrees with the AAP’s policy saying he was paddled at school and his parents spanked him at home, and he learned from it.
“My grandpa, I mean he’s like my hero,” says Harper. “So he could look at me wrong and I just knew I messed up. And that right there it’s because he spanked me once before. I knew that I never wanted to upset that guy again because I don’t want him to do that to me again.”
The same sentiment backfired on 70-year-old Norma Toussaint in 2016. Her great-granddaughter called the police for punishing her with a switch.
“I don’t think it’s right for them to put me in jail for whooping a child when she don’t want to mind me and I’m 70 years old,” Norma Toussaint told our cameras in 2016.
Like Norma, an overwhelming amount of people on the KARK 4 Facebook page side with Brandon.
Stormie Miller says, “WOW… and this is why kids are acting out like they do, because either parents don’t care or they are too scared to discipline.”
Jennifer Remow posted, “Both of my kids were spanked when needed and they’re both outstanding and responsible adults without any mental health issues.
Others agree with the AAP’s stance. Deanna Smith, 55, has two children now in their early 20s.
“I think parents a lot of times just spank because they don’t know what else to do,” says Deanna Smith.
“You spanked your children a few times. You didn’t like how you felt when you did that, so what other discipline methods did you turn to?” asked Susanne Brunner, KARK 4 TODAY Anchor.
“I would take things away from them,” says Smith. “My kids knew they didn’t get grounded often, but if they got grounded they got grounded every day I said they were going to be grounded.”
Smith says she found other effective ways. If her kids complained about a toy for Christmas, she would take them to the Salvation Army and make them hand out gift baskets to children in need. Another time, Deanna made her kids watch “Feed the Children” on tv for 3 hours. She made discipline opposite of the spankings she grew up with.
“At the time, how did that make you feel?” asked Susanne Brunner, KARK 4 TODAY Anchor.
“It negatively impacted my self-esteem,” said Smith.
UAMS Professor of Pediatrics, Nicholas Long, believes spanking your child also sends the wrong message.
“One of the issues that spanking teaches is it’s alright to hit others including the ones you love,” says Nicholas Long, UAMS Professor of Pediatrics.
Taking a look at the results of a 1995 study, 80 percent of parents reported spanking their children. Fast forward to 2013, it dropped to 67 percent and appears to be on a downward trend.
“Focusing on providing a lot of encouragement, letting them know what it is we want them to do and when they do it, offer them a lot of praise and encouragement,” says Long.
The AAP encourages disciplining by rewarding positive behavior and using timeouts. A handful of parents agree online. Colleen Caldwell says, “Discipline is possible without violence.”
Paige Johnson posts, “No there are better ways of teaching children than using physical pain.”
“I was just really in touch with how I felt about it when I was a kid, and I don’t think it brought out the best in me or in them,” says Smith.
“Some things work for different people. I just know what worked for me. I know I didn’t enjoy physical pain and it was just on my bottom,” adds Harper.
Bottom line, the AAP is sticking to its stance, hoping you question the next move you make when disciplining your child. Here in Arkansas, spanking is not a crime, unless it causes physical injury
to a child. Arkansas is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment in schools.
If you’d like to read the American Academy of Pediatrics’ report on spanking, click here.