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Note: This article presents one side of a disputed topic. See pro-spanking for the opposing view.
Soviet poster against the corporal punishment of children (1926).

Anti-spanking is a term used to refer to the point of view that spanking is never an acceptable form of punishment of children. The opposite is called pro-spanking: the view that children should be spanked for certain categories of offenses.

The anti-spanking philosophy, generally speaking, believes that children should never be spanked because:

  • spanking is an outdated punishment method and an expression of violence
  • spanking is potentially dangerous, both for the child's physical and emotional well-being
  • spanking does not work and makes behavior problems worse.
  • research shows that spanking is correlated with negative outcomes
  • if children can understand reason, then they don't need to be spanked, and if children can't understand reason, then they won't understand being spanked
  • although it may started as controlled spanking, it may lead to legally-recognized forms of physical abuse
  • the notion that it's okay to physically hurt people you love is the same logic that permits relationship violence, thus making spanking children a form of domestic abuse and leaving those who were spanked vulnerable to be abused by or abuse others by this same logic
  • society's other vulnerable groups, such as the disabled, the very elderly, and even certain animals, are protected against being struck, and who is more vulnerable than a child?
  • in some countries (such as the USA), corporal punishment is not permitted against adults because it is too "cruel and unusual" to be inflicted at a judicial level, but in those same countries, children may be subjected to it. If a punishment is too "cruel and unusual" for an adult criminal at the judicial, it is not okay for a weak, vulnerable, and comparatively innocent child to be the victim of this treatment in their own homes and schools, where they should be protected
  • corporal punishment is a "right makes might" justification, an "appeal to power" logical fallacy; scaring or forcing people to obey rules under the threat of violence is tyranny
  • spanking is analogous to rape (a man forces his underage girl into a room, where she may be in private or public, strips her or makes her strip herself, hurts her by touching her private parts until she is crying and can't sit down, maybe while teasing or berating her for being defiant while he's hurting her, and then might comfort her and tell her that she asked for it, but that doing this to her is proof that he loves her. Is he a pedophile raping and grooming his victim, or a father disciplining his daughter?)
  • the fact that countries that have banned spanking have seen improvements
  • the belief that it should be a recognized human right not to be subjected to corporal punishment, based on the above reasons

Some people also argue against spanking from a religious point of view — for example, the Stop the Rod organization makes the claim "Jesus would have never hit a child".

Politically, anti-spanking activists demand that the spanking of children should be illegalized in countries where it is still legal. In many countries their cause was already successful (see spanking of children). Recently, an initiative began called consensual adult spanking enthusiasts who are against the spanking of children. This cause has united many both in and out of the consensual adult spanking community. Consenting adult spanking enthusiasts have stated that while spanking is safe, sane, and consensual when practiced only amongst adults, it is extremely harmful to children.


Occasionally we find anti-spanking positions in works from antiquity, such as from Plato, Quintilian and Plutarch. In the middle ages, Enea Silvio Piccolomin (later Pope Pius II) wrote a treatise on child education in which he spoke against flogging:

The master, therefore, must be intellectually able and sincere, of wide experience, and of sound morals. In demeanour lie should avoid austerity without falling into vulgar familiarity. A master thus qualified will be competent to fulfil his duty, which is to fence in the growing mind with wise and noble precept and example, as a careful gardener hedges round a newly-planted tree. For in fight training of the boy lies the secret of the integrity of the man. But this training must be enforced by friendly but effective authority, and should require no recourse to the rod.
  — Enea Silvio Piccolomin, De Librorum Educatione (1450) (see also German text)

The anti-spanking movement began in Europe in the second half of the 19th century and gradually increased its influence during the 20th century. It caused a revolution in parenting and education methods that led to the complete banning of corporal punishment in many European countries.

The anti-spanking position is expressed in most European parenting books that were published since the 1960s. Today there are many anti-spanking websites that are run by anti-spanking activists.

The anti-spanking movement also grew influence in North America and on other continents since the mid-20th century, though to a much lesser degree.

Anti-spanking books[edit]

Spare the Rod by Jane & James Ritchie (1981).

Anti-spanking parenting books are books on parenting that take an anti-spanking point of view, i.e. they recommend parents and teachers to never use disciplinary spanking, in no ways and under no conditions. Usually these books take the point of view that a spanking is always harmful for the child, irrespective of when and how it is given.

Some anti-spanking books recommend other types of punishment, such as grounding or time-outs, while others go as far as calling any type of punishment wrong and potentially harmful. Most however try to draw their own line between methods they find unacceptable (including all forms of corporal punishment, usually, not only spanking) and methods they find acceptable. The first anti-spanking books are from the late 19th century, but the genre really boomed in the 1960s and 1970s, a trend which is still unbroken.

Examples of anti-spanking parenting books:

Anti-spanking campaigns and organizations[edit]

See also[edit]