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Discipline at Home

Why are spankings, slaps, and even apparently harmless blows like pats on the hand dangerous for a baby?
  • They teach the baby violence1
  • They destroy the infallible certainty of being loved that the baby needs2
  • They cause anxiety; the expectancy of the next break1
  • They convey a lie: they pretend to be educational, but parents actually use them to vent their anger; when they strike, it's because, as children, they were struck themselves3
  • They provoke anger and a desire for revenge, which remain repressed only to be expressed much later4
  • They program the child to accept illogical arguments (I'm hurting you for your own good) that stay stored up in their body
  • They destroy sensitivity and compassion for others and for oneself, and hence limit the capacity to gain insight4
What long-term lessons does the baby retain from spankings and other blows?

The baby learns:

  • That a child does not deserve respect3
  • That good can be learned through punishment (which is usually wrong, since punishment merely teaches the children to want to punish on their own turn)4
How is repressed anger often vented?

In childhood and adolescence:

  • By making fun of the weak4
  • By hitting classmates4

In adulthood:

  • By perpetuating spanking, as an apparently educational and effective means, often heartily recommended to others, whereas in actual fact, one's own suffering is being avenged on the next generation3
  • By refusing to understand the connections between previously experienced violence and the violence actively repeated today. The ignorance of society is thereby perpetuated.3

Conversely, some become aware of the repression and universal denial of childhood pain, realizing how violence is transmitted from parents to children, and stop hitting children regardless of age. This can be done (many have succeeded) as soon as one has understood that the causes of the "educational" violence are hidden in the repressed history of the parents.


1Taylor, C. A., Manganello, J. A., Lee, S. J., & Rice, J. C. (2010). Mothers' Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children's Aggressive Behavior. Pediatrics, 125(5), E1057-E1065. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-2678

2National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2004). Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships: Working Paper No. 1. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu

3Chung, E. K., Mathew, L., Rothkopf, A. C., Elo, I. T., Coyne, J. C., & Culhane, J. F. (2009). Parenting Attitudes and Infant Spanking: The Influence of Childhood Experiences. Pediatrics, 124(2), E278-E286. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3247

4Cruz, D., Narciso, I., Pereira, C., & Sampaio, D. (2014). Risk Trajectories of Self-Destructiveness in Adolescence: Family Core Influences. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 23(7), 1172-1181. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9777-3

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