Evangelical Update

A resource for lefties who want to understand conservative Christians.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005


This is Jennifer, filling in for Alice:

Most of us who grew up in Christian homes have Proverbs 23:13 (spare the rod, spoil the child) engraved on our hearts...and behinds. Today, however, just the mere mention of spanking your child might land you in jail. The preferred method of punishing children is the more humane "Time Out". There are definite lines drawn between those who endorse spanking and those who abhore it. Not incidentally, those lines tend to fall along the Christian vs. un-Christian paradigms we have been discussing here.

Christian child psychologist James Dobson, known for his best-selling 1971 book Dare to Discipline, encourages spanking that is delivered in a controlled, loving manner. On his website (www.family.org) he has this to say about the child who is spanked:

"If he is routinely beaten by hostile, volatile parents or if he witnesses physical violence between angry adults or if he feels unloved and unappreciated within his family, that child will not fail to notice how the game is played. Just because a technique is used wrongly, however, is no reason to reject it altogether."

How do you know when spanking crosses the line to abuse? The Department of Health and Human Services and the New England Journal of Medicine estimate that 1,000 to 2,000 children die every year in the U.S. from corporal punishment that has escalated to a lethal level.

You may be surprised, as I was, to learn that corporal punishment administered in school is not against the law in all states. 23 states still allow school administrators to spank disobedient children. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Mississippi holds the distinction of the highest number of students receiving corporal punishment, at 10 percent. The top ten states in terms of documented student spankings are, in order:

New Mexico

I'm interested in what our participants here at EU think about the issue:

1. How many of you spank your children?

2. Of those who spank, have your thoughts on the matter been molded by Biblical
teaching and/or the teaching of religious leaders, such as Dr. Dobson?

3. How many of you are in favor of school-administered spankings?