Olivia Fortier Essay two November 2nd, 2010 One of the most controversial issues among today’s society revolves around the use of corporal punishment on children, which is better known as the spanking argument. On one side stand the conservative psychologists, doctors, and parents who believe that a good smack on the buttocks is appropriate in guiding children and parents have the right to family privacy. The other side consists of psychologists, doctors, and parents who believe that any form of physical punishment used on children is abusive and needs to be put to an immediate stop.
Two Doctors of Medicine wrote two different articles on this subject expressing their opinions on the matter. The first is an article entitled Should Spanking a Child Be Unlawful, written by Dr. Gregory K. Fritz, which expressed how he believes that spanking should not be made unlawful. Opposed to his opinion, Dr. Carole Jenny refuted his article with an article of her own entitled Spanking Should Not Be Lawful, expressing how she firmly believes that spanking should be declared illegal in order to stop child abuse. Both Dr. Fritz and Dr.
Jenny believe that spanking is immoral and that stopping it help guide the end of child abuse, how ever they both hold very different opinions on solving the matter. In the beginning of his article, Dr. Fritz immediately makes it known that he believes there are two sides of the physical punishment spectrum where one end is labeled as the incidents of spanking that are delivered by a loving parent. On this end of the spectrum, Dr. Fritz makes a conscious effort to describe these actions as performed non-abusive and controlled.
Placed at the other end of the spectrum is the life threatening child abuse that has become the controversial issue today. Dr. Fritz believes that one problem that stands with most scholarly studies about child abuse is that they are biased in the sense that they label the effects of abusive spanking under the effects of controlled, non-abusive spanking, giving the effect that spanking cannot be anything but abusive. Using examples of researchers such as Robert Larzalere and Diana Baumrind, Dr.
Fritz states that “when physical punishment that is severe, or [is] the primary type of discipline employed, or [is] delivered impulsively by an angry, out of control parent are all excluded from analyses…the findings are remarkably different” (Fritz par. 8). By taking out the incidents of when a parent has spanked their child in a controlled and guiding manner and seeing that such discipline does not leave long term effects on the child would show researchers that the victim rate of child abuse decreases rapidly. Opposed to this idea, Dr.
Carole Jenny believes that it is the very nature of spanking that causes all the long and short term effects on children, such as aggressive behavior towards other children, altruism, sexuality problems, and antisocial behavior. Dr. Jenny is a supporter of the studies done by researchers and believes that all of the studies done on child abuse are accurate and show that any form of physical punishment, especially spanking, is the overwhelming cause of psychological and physical issues with many children. She supports her opinion and challenges Fritz’ idea that the studies are biased by comparing the abuse of children to the abuse of wives.
Dr. Jenny states that: if this is acceptable, why don’t we conduct research to prove that beating one’s wife is an effective way to control her behavior, especially if you tell her you love her and that you are beating her for her own good, once the beating is over? (Jenny par. 8) This analogy of beating one’s wife is Jenny’s illustration of the stronger force abusing the physically weaker force, which shows that when a parent punishes a child they are only doing so because they have no fear of the child hitting them back, thus enforcing the behavior that they wish to come from the child.
Though both doctors disagree on what defines the abuse of a child, they both concur that child abuse is generally the major association for some child psychological outcomes such as depression, altruism, and antisocial behavior. Dr. Fritz states that even though he supports the protection of parents who spank their children in a guiding manner, he believes that the best alternative is to “stay off the continuum entirely, and we try to help parents to do so” (Fritz par. 6). It is the goal of both Dr. Fritz and Dr.
Jenny to educate parents about appropriate punishments in different age groups and how to use positive reinforcement to sculpt proper behavior among their child. One of the points made by Dr. Jenny in her article is about how “children should not be afforded less comfort and safety than others” (Jenny par. 7). In other words, Dr. Jenny believes that if adults are entitled to feelings of safety and reassurance then why are adults allowed to take those rights away from children? Additionally throughout his article, Dr.
Fritz makes it very clear that he believes that parents possess the right to privacy of their family and that there should be no laws passed that would endanger a parent for physically disciplining their child; however, Dr. Jenny could not disagree more and believes that a law is necessary to ban corporal punishment of children. In order to support her opinion Dr. Jenny talks about the gathering of the United Nations back in 1989, where they then held a discussion known as The United Nations Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC).
This convention was held to propose a prohibition against the physical punishment. Dr. Jenny continues the example by stating one-hundred countries adopted the law against physical punishment of children in school, while twenty-three countries went as far as to ban corporal punishment in any context. Among the two countries to not ratify this prohibition was the United States. Dr. Jenny believes that it is vital for the United States to join the twenty-three countries that have banned the use of corporal punishment based on her studies of the death rate of children who have died from physical punishment.
She believes that “the United Nations recognizes the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” (Jenny par. 7). By passing such a law, Dr. Jenny hopes to further the United States movement to stop the abuse of children. Agreeing with Dr. Jenny’s idea that such a prohibition against any corporal punishment of children may be used as a direct tool of stopping the abuse of children; however, he also believes that such an endorsement will cause legal problems for the parents who incorporate physical punishments in rearing their children and yet are doing a superb job in raising their children.
If the United States were to join the other twenty -three countries in this movement then the government would be doing most of American society a great injustice: “When there is no evidence that infrequent, non-abusive spanking by caring parents damages children, I’m in favor of keeping governmental rules away from child rearing and protecting parental autonomy, cultural traditions and family privacy” (Fritz par. 10).
He believes that if the government is going to make such a prohibition legal then it must be enforced unevenly or else the government plans to make criminals out of conservative parents who do their best to bring their children up right. Although both Dr. Fritz and Dr. Jenny possess different opinions they both hold similarities regarding their credentials. Both Doctors Fritz and Jenny are Doctors of Medicine practiced in Child Psychology and Pediatrics, and are also both professors at Brown University where both of their articles were originally published.
They are both respected doctors who have both published many articles pertaining to their study. Being well respected professors Brown University it is interesting to see both Doctors use out of date sources in their articles, especially when neither of their examples are well represented or sourced. They both refer to the United Nations convention but show no real research on the actual convention, and Dr. Jenny even throws in a statistic about Sweden without qualifying the source. Though both doctors have their disagreements, they both stand on the common ground of making a change in the homes that endanger children.
Though Dr. Carol Jenny believes that the only way that child abuse will come to an end is to endorse legal action against the physical punishment of children, Dr. Fritz believes that there is an alternative to making criminals out of parents and hopes to educate them in alternative ways of rearing children. However, Dr. Fritz is still a supporter of the use of spanking in a controlled, non-abusive manner. Unfortunately child abuse is a major problem in American Society but fortunately many conservative families are found to use physical punishment as a means of protecting their children.