Monday, October 31, 2011

Spare the rod, spoil the child

Do they? Really?

Over the years, it has become a pet peeve of mine as well as a great concern over how a child should be disciplined. Maybe it's something that comes with age...but maybe it's something that no longer seems right...because doesn't violence breed violence? 

I'm not talking about spanking a child with your hand on their butt...I'm talking about hitting them with a belt or paddle. What the law now refers as corporal punishment. 

Where did we humans get the notion that hitting a child with something hard was discipline?

"Spare the rod, spoil the child".  Biblical reference?  Not at all.  In fact, it came from a 17th century poem titled “Hudibras” by Samuel Butler. The actual verse reads: 

“What medicine else can cure the fits
Of lovers when they lose their wits?
Love is a boy by poets styled
Then spare the rod and spoil the child.”
At the time that this was written, it referred to the spanking of a woman, as part of making a love relationship grow stronger. However, over time...the meaning changed to that of referring to the spanking of a child.

The Biblical reference reads:  Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” Here again...a 'rod' is mentioned...but what does it really refer to?

It's symbolic in a means of authority. It wasn't meant in the literal sense, as some of those of faith would have you believe. The Bible does not condone corporal punishment.

There are advocates for and against (opens as a pdf) physical discipline, and this is a hot topic in today's world. Who is right?

I personally fall with those against such discipline, as I have witnessed children whose self-esteem was lowered, as well as developing anger issues and aggressiveness. 

Is this not a cycle that is perpetuated over time? I believe it can be. 

In my eyes, this IS a form of child abuse...when a child is hit with a belt or a paddle. It IS child abuse when welts are left, bruises appear and a child looks at you with wounded eyes...feeling betrayed by the very person who is supposed to love and protect him. 

Education is key...and one can discipline a child without harming them physically, mentally or emotionally. 

I welcome your thoughts. 

Thanks for reading.


  1. Thanks, Laura. I spent a lot of time researching last night...bookmarked everything and wrote it up this morning.

    Sometimes, works wonders! LOL

  2. Using corporal punishment is just that CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. It is not discipline. It is using fear as a weapon and it does take it's toll on all of society... THE CANUCK

  3. "Using corporal punishment is just that CORPORAL PUNISHMENT. It is not discipline. It is using fear as a weapon and it does take it's toll on all of society..."

    Exactly. Thanks for your input! 8 )

  4. Corporal punishment (for children, not adults), from what I understand, started in Ancient Egypt during the early stages of Homo Sapiens's existence (circa 3000 BC), but didn't become fully commonplace until the Black Plague era (14th century AD). I also have a theory to put forward: Countries which have outlawed, abolished or discouraged CP such as Sweden, Austria and Germany, have a history of being LESS reliant on physical discipline being more "together" compared to the countries which have NOT taken action against it (UK, France and Russia, for example). These can be subdivided into two groups: Pro-rod-sparing and anti-rod-sparing. The former includes countries which have taken no action (legally) against CP of children but is actively encouraged in society and community (UK, France and Russia to name a few), while the latter includes countries and cultures which, while in a grey area legally, DISCOURAGE such measures and utilise them as a final desperate course of action (China, Japan and Korea to name a few).

    If you HAVE to use CP, then use it on an adult or someone who can defend himself, not a child or young teenager.