Tag Archives: Corporal punishment

To SPANK a child – that is the question

Sarah B. Weir, a Yahoo blogger, posted, “Spanking Linked to Mental Illness, Says Study.”

Weir reported, “Researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues as adults.”

However, a post at The Daily Beast written by Po Bronson reveals another side to this issue that people such as Sarah B. Weir may not want you to discover. It turns out that there has been very little research on children that were never spanked, because children who’ve never been spanked aren’t easy to find.

Bronson mentions a study that is still underway called Portraits of American Life. It involves interviews of 2,600 people and their adolescent children every three years for the next 20 years. Dr. Marjorie Gunnoe (see video) working with the first wave of data on teens found that almost a quarter of these teens report they were never spanked.

Dr. Gunnoe’s summary will upset many that are dead set against spanking. The good doctor reported that kids who were never spanked are not any better off in the long term. In addition, Gunnoe discovered those who’d been spanked just when they were young—ages 2 to 6—were doing a little better as teenagers than those who’d never been spanked.

Furthermore, John Weyenberg, writing for Ezine, says, “I believe that spanking children is a viable and sometimes necessary form of discipline. I do not believe in abusing children. I do not equate spanking with abuse. Spanking a child under the wrong conditions and too often can turn into a pattern of abuse. But spanking a child as a very last resort under the following conditions can prove to be beneficial and not harmful.”

I agree with Weyenberg and also suggest that angry parents should never spank a child. If a parent is calm, the odds are he or she will not lose control turning spanking into physical abuse. I spanked my son when he was a child, but I used a paddle and wrote the rules on the paddle that spelled out what earned a spanking such as lying about his homework, because he lied about his homework often. No matter how upset I was, those rules spelled out the exact punishment when all else failed. As a rule, he was also spanked with another adult watching as a witness.

In addition, many studies into the effects of spanking have proven to be highly unreliable because they are largely based on the researcher’s interpretation of children’s behavior. Study bias is a common phenomenon among behavioral studies in which the researchers have a committed position and are required to judge behavior. Source: Religious

For this reason, Robert Larzelere and his colleagues wanted to see if the link between spanking and antisocial behavior was caused by the children themselves—some kids are more trouble, and they provoke more disciplinary action. The results of the Larzelere study, “In addition to a link between antisocial behavior and spanking, the researchers also found links between  antisocial behavior and ‘grounding,’ or punishing kids by taking away their privileges to go out, and antisocial behavior and psychotherapy.”

Then Arthur Whaley discovered that in countries where corporal punishment was commonplace, the link between physical discipline with increased child aggression and anxiety was weaker. Source: Parenting

This indicates that spanking children may not be harmful where the issue isn’t a controversial hot-button topic that creates an environment where children grow up feeling sorry for themselves because other children and parents send signals that spanking is wrong and abusive when in fact, it often is not.

Studies show that “early emotional experience knits long-lasting patterns into the very fabric of the brain’s neural networks leading to moodiness, irritability, clinical depression, increased negative thinking, negative perceptions of events, etc.” Source: Forgiving Parents: Breaking the Chain of Anger, Resentment and Pain

Does this mean that the loud and vocal anti-spanking lobby is responsible for planting the concept in children that are spanked that they are being abused leading to mental illness as adults? Hmm, if you are a parent that spanks, you may be able to sue that nosey next-door neighbor or teacher that criticizes your parenting methods that may include spanking. Think about it—it is called programming a response.

Discover Too Happy! To Perfect! Too Fragile!


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.

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Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 5/9

Now that we have dealt with Finland and China’s education systems, ethnic/racial and cultural differences compared to the United States, it is time to look at Singapore, which is almost the polar opposite of the United States except for English as the national language.

Unlike China (95% Han Chinese) and Finland (more than 95% Caucasian), Singapore is 74.2% Chinese, 13.2% Malay and 9.2% of Indian descent and about 40% of the population is foreigners. The total population is 5.1 million — 2.9 million were born in Singapore while the rest are foreign-born.

However there is a big difference between the US and Singapore. The US is 64.6% White/Caucasian, 15.1% Hispanic/Latino, 12.85% African-American/Black, 4.43% Asian, etc.

The largest difference between the education systems of Singapore and the United States is that America is influenced by “memes” and/or popular trends, which is a pervasive idea within a given culture. The idea replicates itself (sort of like a virus) via cultural means and on the Internet mostly spreads through web sites, emails, blogs, forums, videos, and other channels. The goal of the meme is to change the thought patterns of the populace. Source: Google

Caning in Singapore

In the United States, those “memes” or trends have led to boosting self-esteem among children, which includes not shaming students; making sure children have lots of fun time, and avoiding meritocracy while promoting students regardless of academic achievement. There is also a popular dislike of corporal punishment as cruel.

However, in Singapore, ‘memes’ or popular trends do not have a similar impact as they do in the US.

In Singapore, Meritocracy is a basic political ideology and a fundamental principle in the education system, which aims to identify and groom bright young students for positions of leadership. The system places a great emphasis on academic performance in grading students and granting their admission to special programmes and universities.

As for discipline in Singapore’s schools, corporal punishment is legal (for male students only), and fully encouraged by the government in order to maintain strict discipline.

Canings in schools may be classified in three areas.  The first is a private caning where the boy is caned in the principal’s office; class caning where the boy is caned in front of his class, and public caning where the boy is caned on stage during assembly in front of the whole school population, to serve as a warning to potential offenders as well as to shame the student. It is usually reserved for serious offences committed like fighting, smoking, and vandalism.

School caning is a solemn and formal ceremony. Before the caning, the Discipline Master usually explains the student’s offence to the audience.

In addition, in Singapore, “any child who is unable to attend any national primary school due to any physical or intellectual disability” is exempted from compulsory education. Singapore’s public schools do not provide special education for persons with disabilities.

Caning was once an English tradition. After the British Empire made caning illegal, they lost the empire.

Education in Singapore is managed by the Ministry of Education, which controls the development and administration of state schools, but also has an advisory and supervisory role in respect to private schools.

It is also a criminal offence for parents to fail to enroll their children in school and ensure their regular attendance. Imagine what would happen if this were a criminal offense for parents in the United States.

Due to Singapore’s cultural beliefs and the structure of its educational system, it ranked fifth in reading (The US was 17th) on the 2009 PISA test, second for math (the US was 31st) and fourth for science (the US was 23rd – the OECD average). Source:

Continued on August 5, 2011, in Civil Disobedience and No Child Left Behind – Part 6 or return to Part 4


Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves


Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper right-hand column and click on “Sign me up!”



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