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Using Penalty & Punishment in Discipline
( Question 1 )
Jan 2000 Alan S.L. Wong

Using Penalty and Punishment in Discipline: Question 1

Email received on 9 January 2000

I was alarmed at your sentence, "... the consequence for hitting each other is spanking ..." Doesn't this strike you as rather contradictory? You are meeting violence with violence from a position of power. Could you please explain?

My Response Your objection seems to be that spanking is the same as hitting. Both cause pain but they are not the same.

I spank to communicate that their behaviour (hitting) is unacceptable with the hope that the probability of this unacceptable behaviour happening again will decrease. Their purpose of hitting of each other often is to cause hurt. My motivation for spanking is out of love and concern for their character development ... how they will turn out in life. Their motivation for hitting often is out of anger and malice.

Can my boys distinguish between my spanking and their hitting? Seemingly, "Yes!" On a few occasions and on their own accord, my boys have extended out their palms to accept the punishment ... one whack with the flat side of a 12" wooden ruler. Controlled spanking hurts but does not leave scars or inflict injuries.

Though I believe in spanking, I seldom spank my boys. Spanking is controversial and I don't expect everybody to agree with me. But I hope the above clarification will help to explain my position and answer your objection.

June 2004: My definition of spanking is the use of the rod (the flat side of a 12" wooden ruler) on the palm. To avoid confusion with the dictionary meaning of spanking ("smacking the buttocks with the flat of the hand as a punishment"), I've replaced the word with "physical discipline" in the article "Using Penalty and Punishment in Discipline".