Most parents would want their children to be respectful and well-behaved but sometimes this may be far from the current behavior of a child. In such situations, parents are required to discipline the children so that they change their behavior accordingly. Browning (2017) defines discipline as the process of teaching a child what kind of behavior is acceptable and those that are unacceptable. One of the ways of disciplining a child is spanking which is defined as hitting a person, often a child, on the buttocks with an open hand.There have been engaging and extensive debates about the effectiveness of spanking as a form of discipline among scholars and other people. This essay examines two articles with opposing arguments concerning the effectiveness of spanking.
The article that presents arguments against spanking is that by Cook & Kopko (2014) titled “Why Spanking should be Discouraged”. Cook & Kopko (2014) present strong arguments of why spanking is ineffective and is associated with negative effects such as the risk of child abuse. Moreover, the article explains that spanking is in violation of the human rights of the children. These arguments are backed up with evidence from different studies. For instance, in showing how spanking is ineffective, the authors quote studies that determined how spanking results in child aggression. However, this is an example of a slippery slope fallacy that involves an assumption that ultimately spanking causes child aggression. This argument does not consider the fact that there are other factors that could lead to child aggression. The second argument about spanking being linked to the risk of child abuse is a valid argument with no fallacy. However, the argument on child abuse being considered a form of human rights violation is seen as a straw man fallacy. The definition of spanking in this argument is oversimplified and considered a form of corporal punishment which is not true when disciplining children as it is usually administered with care.
On the other hand, the article that presents arguments in support of spanking is that by Pingleton (2014) titled Spanking can be an Appropriate Form of Child Discipline”. Pingleton (2018) explains that spanking that is administered within proper guidelines can be an effective deterrent to undesirable behavior among children. However, this argument is seen as a form of circular argument fallacy as it simply restates the argument. Another argument by Pingleton is that other forms of discipline do not have the desired effect on children’s behavior as is the case with spanking. This argument is a red herring fallacy as it avoids the key issues of opposing arguments instead of addressing them. Pingleton(2014) also explains that spanking is done because of love and genuine desire for changing the child’s behavior and hence is not corporal punishment which is done simply as a form of punishment. Therefore, the article argues that spanking in this sense should be discouraged. Finally, Pingleton (2014) also quotes the bible by explaining that discipline is encouraged in Hebrews 12:11 as a way to train children. This argument can be considered to have Ad populum (Bandwagon Appeal) fallacy as it appeals to the Christianity religion which is something most people have a strong belief in.
The essay has presented an evaluation of arguments presented in two articles in arguing for and against spanking. Some of the arguments presented by the authors of the articles are seen to have some form of fallacy while others are free from fallacy. All in all, they are strong arguments, and this raises questions on the need for further studies to determine the effectiveness of the use of spanking as a form of discipline.
Browning, R. M. (2017). Behavior modification in child treatment: An experimental and clinical approach. Routledge.
Cook, E., &Kopko, K. (2014). Why spanking should be discouraged.Cornell University. Retrieved July 24, 2019, from https://www.human.cornell.edu/sites/default/files/PAM/Parenting/Spanking-Research-Brief.pdf
Pingleton, J. (2014, September 14). Spanking can be an appropriate form of child discipline. Time.Retrieved from https://time.com/3387226/spanking-can-be-an-appropriate-form-of-child-discipline/ [Accessed: July 24, 2019]