Letter to the Editor, Great Falls Tribune
Jordan Riak
May 9, 2001

Great Falls Tribune
Attn: Gary Moseman

Dear Editor:

It seems that the spanking debate is heating up again--if, indeed, it ever cooled.

Exactly what is spanking? Ask almost any spanker to define the term, and you will hear autobiography: "This is what was done to me, and I turned out all right." One could equally defend tobacco use, driving under the influence of alcohol, or failure to use a seat belt because "I'm okay." It's true that some people manage to dodge the bullet, but that doesn't make risky behavior okay.

Exactly what are the risks associated with spanking? The data gathered over the past half century by leading researchers affiliated with major universities consistently demonstrate that the cognitive ability of spanked children tends to develop more slowly than that of children who are not spanked. Spanked children tend to do less well in school, are slower to adapt socially, are more prone to depression and suicide, are more likely to become substance abusers, tend to earn less money on the job, are more likely to be arrested, and are more likely to become involved in abusive relationships. "...The more violent the punishment, the more serious the by-products...," said the late B. F. Skinner, professor of psychology at Harvard.

The truth about spanking is only now beginning to infiltrate public awareness--a process which, like every other major social reform, is bound to meet strong resistance. Spankers demand to have their apprehensions allayed and their cherished old habits validated, and there are always panderers on the scene ready to give them what they crave. But the tide is turning. Every day, more voices are heard unequivocally advising spankers to refrain from a high-risk behavior that achieves nothing of value that can't be achieved more easily and more safely by non-spanking methods.

Jordan Riak
Executive Director
Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education

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