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Note: This article presents one side of a disputed topic. See anti-spanking for the opposing view.
When advising parents on child discipline, pediatricians should emphasize the importance of balancing correction with encouragement. The parent-child relationship is pivotal in determining the success of any disciplinary measure. The selective use of disciplinary spanking with young children can be useful component of the disciplinary process.
  — Den A. Trumbull, MD, FCP, December 2007 American College of Pediatricians

Pro-spanking is a term used to refer to the point of view that spanking is an acceptable form of punishment of children. The opposite is called anti-spanking: the view that children should never be spanked.

The pro-spanking philosophy, generally speaking, believes that children should be spanked for some offenses because:

  • spanking is an effective way to bring an immediate end to misbehavior
  • spanking connects the misbehavior with pain in the mind of the child, and pain is a natural aversive in nature
  • spanking is physical, as opposed to forms of psychological punishment
  • spanking is quick, and forgiveness can follow immediately
  • spanking is known for millennia to be an effective parenting method
  • spanking is safe when done correctly, i.e. given only on the buttocks where the risk of injury is very small
  • spanking may work when other punishments don't
  • there is not enough reason to be against spanking

Some people also argue for spanking from a religious point of view (e.g. with quotes on corporal punishment in the Bible). For example, in February 2015, Pope Francis I publicly endorsed parental spanking.[1]



A humorous spanking art expressing a pro-spanking stance

The pro-spanking point of view prevailed since known history (see the history of spanking), but was gradually replaced by the anti-spanking view in the course of the 20th century. This caused a revolution in parenting and education methods that led to the complete banning of corporal punishment in many European countries.

The pro-spanking position is expressed in scripture since antiquity (Greek philosophers, Roman authors, the Bible) and in most parenting books that were published before the 1960s, but only very few selected newer publications. Today there is a handful of pro-spanking websites that are run by people as a criticism of the anti-spanking movement. Europeans who express pro-spanking points of view today are in risk of harassment in their home countries, which is why pro-spankers, unlike their anti-spanking counterparts, often seek protection in anonymity and pseudonymity.

Responses to some common anti-spanking argumentsEdit

Research shows that spanking causes harmEdit

Although there is some research that shows correlations with negative effects, that does not prove that spanking causes negative effects.

Parents who spank may be more likely to be cold, aggressive or to have an authoritarian parenting style, which is what may cause to the effects, and/or it may only cause the effects when done 'wrong' (for example: without reasoning/explanation), or there may be some other confounding factor. As the saying goes, "correlation does not imply causation".

Furthermore, often further analysis of the research shows that the harm is close to nonexistent, having not much worse results than other forms of punishment, which is consistent with the idea that it may be caused by something correlated with spanking rather than spanking directly [2][3]. While it may appear that the research uniformly shows the same result, this is not the case[4]. In some cases, results are even positive.[5]

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 spankedEdit

  • This argument, although worded against spanking, applies to all forms of punishment.
  • Operant conditioning would still work even if they can't understand reasoning.
  • The question shouldn't be if they can understand reason, but if they will listen to and understand reasoning.
    • Children often suspend or skew reasoning - spanking would bring them out of such state.
    • Children may ignore reasoning.
  • Spanking may be combined with reasoning increase the chance of long-term compliance when reasoning alone may not reach that goal.

Pro-spanking parenting booksEdit

Pro-spanking parenting books are books on parenting that take a pro-spanking point of view, i.e. they recommend parents to use disciplinary spanking in certain ways and under certain conditions. Usually these books take the point of view that a spanking, given at the right time and in the right way, can be beneficial in raising up a child.

Today, these books have become rare, as the majority of modern parenting books takes an anti-spanking point of view and warns parents to avoid all forms of corporal punishment and use other punishment methods, such as time-outs, instead.

Another position is to present spanking and a non-spanking alternative, with the choice left to the reader. The author may also offer his or her individual preference.

Examples of pro-spanking parenting books:


  1. Matthew Zarzeczny, "The Most Controversial Public Remarks (and Photographs) of the Past Week," History and Headlines, (accessed February 9, 2015).
  2. Larzelere, Robert E., et al. “Improving Causal Inferences in Meta‐Analyses of Longitudinal Studies: Spanking as an Illustration.” The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, Wiley-Blackwell, 24 May 2018,
  3. Larzelere, Robert E, et al. “Do Nonphysical Punishments Reduce Antisocial Behavior More than Spanking? a Comparison Using the Strongest Previous Causal Evidence against Spanking.” SpringerLink, Springer, 22 Feb. 2010,
  5. Gunnoe, Marjorie Lindner. “Associations between Parenting Style, Physical Discipline, and Adjustment in Adolescents' Reports.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 31 Aug. 2016,