There is a newly sworn State Assemblywoman here in California who wants to make it illegal to spank a child under four years old.
I say that not because I believe that you should spank a child, I am totally against it. In fact, Hubba-hubba, whose father used his belt often on his four sons (but never the daughter) has suggested that we use corporal punishment as one of our disciplinary tools. Now, before you get the idea that he wants to open a can of whoop-ass on our son, that isn't the case. He does believe, however, that a well-placed smack can be more effective than time-outs in some instances.
Trust me, we have fought about it. So far, I have won every argument. I myself was spanked a few times as I child, and while I only vaguely remember the actual meting out of the punishment, I remember the hurt and the resentment that it caused. Those lasted far longer than the sting of my father's hand. It just goes against everything I stand for as a parent to hurt my child in the name of getting him to behave. We are supposed to be the people that he trusts the most in the world, and yet we would hit him and expect it to have no internal consequences within his four year old mind?
But, and there's always that "but," I am hesitant to say that we should get into people's homes and dictate how they should discipline their children. I'm a Democrat, not a Libertarian, but if we legislate something like that, wouldn't that open up a floodgate of other attempts to control parenting? Child abuse is already against the law, and that doesn't seem to stop some people from abusing their children, so exactly what good would a law like this do?
If we were to legislate something for parents, I would say that all prospective parents be required to attend classes on parenting. Basic child psychology, basic childcare, basic child development, child safety. I'm wondering if something like that would do more to curb child abuse. The thing is, what would we do if they failed the class?