Anti-spanking is a term used to refer to the point of view that spanking is never an acceptable form of punishment of children. The opposite is called pro-spanking: the view that children should be spanked for certain categories of offenses.
The anti-spanking philosophy, generally speaking, believes that children should never be spanked because:
- spanking is an outdated punishment method and an expression of violence
- spanking is potentially dangerous, both for the child's physical and emotional well-being
- spanking does not work and makes behavior problems worse.
- research shows that spanking is correlated with negative outcomes
- if children can understand reason, then they don't need to be spanked, and if children can't understand reason, then they won't understand being spanked
- although it may started as controlled spanking, it may lead to physical abuse
Politically, anti-spanking activists demand that the spanking of children should be illegalized in countries where it is still legal. In many countries their cause was already successful (see spanking of children). Recently, an initiative began called consensual adult spanking enthusiasts who are against the spanking of children. This cause has united many both in and out of the consensual adult spanking community. Consenting adult spanking enthusiasts have stated that while spanking is safe, sane, and consensual when practiced only amongst adults, it is extremely harmful to children.
Occasionally we find anti-spanking positions in works from antiquity, such as from Plato, Quintilian and Plutarch. In the middle ages, Enea Silvio Piccolomin (later Pope Pius II) wrote a treatise on child education in which he spoke against flogging:
|“||The master, therefore, must be intellectually able and sincere, of wide experience, and of sound morals. In demeanour lie should avoid austerity without falling into vulgar familiarity. A master thus qualified will be competent to fulfil his duty, which is to fence in the growing mind with wise and noble precept and example, as a careful gardener hedges round a newly-planted tree. For in fight training of the boy lies the secret of the integrity of the man. But this training must be enforced by friendly but effective authority, and should require no recourse to the rod.||”|
|— Enea Silvio Piccolomin, De Librorum Educatione (1450) (see also German text)|
The anti-spanking movement began in Europe in the second half of the 19th century and gradually increased its influence during the 20th century. It caused a revolution in parenting and education methods that led to the complete banning of corporal punishment in many European countries.
The anti-spanking position is expressed in most European parenting books that were published since the 1960s. Today there are many anti-spanking websites that are run by anti-spanking activists.
The anti-spanking movement also grew influence in North America and on other continents since the mid-20th century, though to a much lesser degree.
Anti-spanking parenting books are books on parenting that take an anti-spanking point of view, i.e. they recommend parents and teachers to never use disciplinary spanking, in no ways and under no conditions. Usually these books take the point of view that a spanking is always harmful for the child, irrespective of when and how it is given.
Some anti-spanking books recommend other types of punishment, such as grounding or time-outs, while others go as far as calling any type of punishment wrong and potentially harmful. Most however try to draw their own line between methods they find unacceptable (including all forms of corporal punishment, usually, not only spanking) and methods they find acceptable. The first anti-spanking books are from the late 19th century, but the genre really boomed in the 1960s and 1970s, a trend which is still unbroken.
Examples of anti-spanking parenting books:
- Beating the Devil Out of Them by Murray A. Straus (2001, ISBN 978-0765807540)
- Campaigns Against Corporal Punishment: Prisoners, Sailors, Women and Children in Antebellum America by Myra C. Glenn (1984, ISBN 978-0873958134)
- Eliminating Corporal Punishment, a Human Rights Imperative for Europe's Children by the Council of Europe (2006, ISBN 978-9287158826)
- It Hurts You Inside: Children Talking About Smacking by Carolyne Willow, Tina Hyder, David Orli (1998, ISBN 978-1900990448)
- Reading, Writing and the Hickory Stick: Appalling Story of Physical and Psychological Abuse in American Schools by Irwin A. Hyman (1990, ISBN 978-0669219906)
- Spare the Child by Philip Greven (1994, ISBN 978-0679733386)
- The Case Against Spanking: How to Discipline Your Child Without Hitting by Irwin A. Hyman (1997), ISBN 978-0787903428
- The shameful discipline of the school expos’d; or, Whipping an improper punishment for youth (1741), London
- Why Spanking Doesn't Work: Stopping This Bad Habit and Getting the Upper Hand on Effective Discipline by Michael J. Marshall (2002, ISBN 978-1555176037)