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The president of Brazil recently introduced a bill to stop spanking and other forms of corporal punishment. The country is following in the footsteps of 25 other nations who have taken action against physical retribution (including Sweden, Uruguay and Venezuela). If the bill gets passed, parents caught physically punishing there will be warned for the first infraction. Repeat offenders will get mandatory psychological treatment or meetings with social services. The bill also prohibits “cruel or degrading treatment" of children.
In America, “to spank or not to spank” is an age old debate. I've heard some adults who were spanked as children say they feel that it helped keep them in line and did nothing to make them more aggressive or lessen their intelligence (as some have suggested). Many parents who have chosen not to spank are quite verbal in their views against such actions. But, this bill isn’t about your thoughts on spanking; it poses a bigger question: Is this something that a government should be involved in?
Many of us feel that our decisions on how to raise and rear our children should be personal and private. We also believe that we’re capable of making such choices without the government acting as The Super Nanny. I personally don’t believe in spanking, but I know many wonderful parents, who have well adjusted children, who do. (Clearly, we aren’t talking extremes here; abuse of course, is a criminal offense.)
And, if spanking becomes outlawed, where do you draw the line? I distinctly remember my toddler running full-speed into a busy street, and after I practically tackled him to keep him out of traffic, I gave him a little slap on the hand. Would that be punishable by law?
And as far as the "cruel" and "degrading" provisions go, how would a court assess these types of actions? The bill says that parental treatment that embarrasses a child can fit the definition of "cruel." I dropped my 8-year-old off at camp today and innocently said “I love you" as I walked out the door. Obviously, that's not cruel, but in hindsight, I bet he was humiliated. Cuff me.
Should spanking be illegal? Chime in below!