Spanking children is assault.
It’s not “technically not assault” or “similar to assault“- it is assault.
If you physically discipline your child in a way that would be legally assault if you did it to me or any other adult- then you have assaulted your child.
This is not “poisoning the well” for a discussion of spanking. This is a plain definition of what it is. In many jurisdictions spanking doesn’t meet the legal definition of assault- but it fulfills every characteristic of “assault” that we would apply to the agreed use of the word. The only thing that changes “reasonable discipline” to “assault” is the relationship of the victim to his/her attacker and not being old enough to have a reasonable right to personal security.
I’ll say that again: Our society has a magical age at which you have a reasonable right to personal security.
Before you reach this magical age, you still have- in most every jurisdiction in the Western world- this right unless your attacker happens to be your parent. If it is a teacher? Assault. If it is a coach? Assault. The parent of a friend? Assault.
If I say to you “My child spoke back to me so I bent them over my knee and smacked their ass with an open hand”- that statement is totally fine, legally permissible and called “spanking”
If I change “My child” to “My wife”, or “My employee”- it is assault.
If I change “My child” to “My prisoner” (if I were a jail guard), or “My student” (if I were a teacher), or “My perpetrator” (if I were a police officer)- it is assault.
For crying out loud….if I change “My” to “Your”- it is bloody well assault.
What is it about being a parent that allows you to be justified in doing something that is assault if you do it to anybody else? What is it about the legal definition of “parent” that absolves you of wrongdoing if you spank YOUR child, as opposed to SOMEBODY ELSE’S child?
Most of my posts are long, well researched and thoroughly argued cases for a view I hold. This time, I would like to give people the opportunity to argue why I am wrong and our culture is right on this issue before I write my follow up post. I will follow this up with a post on why I think spanking is counterproductive, potentially harmful, unreasonable and should be outlawed. For the time being, I want to defend solely my position that whether it is a useful tool, whether it is helpful, whether “good” parents are “strict” parents- spanking is assault for anybody but parents spanking underage children, and consequently that there is nothing magical about “parents” that absolves them from this definition.
*Links to follow up posts will be added to this article as necessary, and I have a possible “guest post” from a blogger who disagrees.
Feel free to post arguments for or against here or on my Facebook.
This post originally appeared on my blog Misplaced Grace. I am republishing it here because it is both important and more germane to the topical nature of this blog- George.