The Great Mom Debate: Is Spanking Ever Okay?

In what is often described as one of the most controversial topics among moms today, REDBOOK readers shared their thoughts on whether spanking your kids is appropriate or completely off-limits. It's hard to find a more polarizing and hot-button parenting topic. Parents are divided, with 57 percent of parents admitting to spanking their kids in a 2002 Public Agenda poll.

Most moms don't count spanking out completely - 55 percent of readers reported that they spank their kidswhen they feel it's appropriate. REDBOOK Facebook fan Nikki says, "Yes I sure did [spank] when they were 2 and 3 years old...and I have never had to do it since. Ask anyone about what WONDERFUL kids I have!"

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But some readers are vehemently against physical punishment in any form, with 14 percent of moms stating that they never have and never will spank. Concerned reader Karrin puts it plainly, "Why do you think we have so much problems with domestic abuse? I bet most of those kids were hit by their parents." Also anti-spanking is Facebook fan Jennifer who warns, "[Spanking] does not work. All it does is hurt your hand and cause your child physical harm."

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Is there a middle ground, though? A lot of readers were explicit in stating the difference between disciplinary spanking and actual physical abuse. Facebook fan Brenda explains, "We spanked when our girls were toddlers, and as they got older we revoked privileges. My children are not violent or angry people. They don't go around hitting people either. As with any discipline, it must be paired with love and consistency!"

For moms still stuck on whether to spank or not to spank, or moms who've tried spanking and have had little to no success, REDBOOK reader Amy offers an alternative that has helped her with her children. She says, "Spankings were not very effective. It hurt them much more when we took away a favorite toy, made them read a book, or separated them from the fun going on in the house."

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Offering a bit of humor to the discussion, reader Rona shares a lesson she learned from her now-grown son. She tells, "We spanked our son when he was very little. Recently we talked about this subject. He stated he probably deserved getting spanked since he was so mischievous as a toddler. He's now 18 years old and a Program Assistant for young kids. And yes, he has told me that there are kids in his group who could use a spanking."

So, while many moms employ a no-spanking rule in their households, the majority of you agree that spanking may sometimes be necessary as long as it's never abusive, infrequent, and always done out of love.

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How do you feel about spanking? Does the thought of swatting your child make you feel sick or do you think it's a necessary component of disciplining your kids?

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