To Spank or Not to Spank: A Black or White Issue?

August 15, 2011  |  

The New York Times recently featured two Madame Noire contributors in its Room for Debate discussion on spanking and whether or not corporal punishment is a racial issue. LaShuan Williams says “Corporal punishment has long been an acceptable, common form of discipline among African-Americans. Indeed, spanking is as much a part of popular black culture as fried chicken and Kool-Aid.” Alrighty then.

Toya Sharee doesn’t quite agree with that view.  “Black parents today are beginning to recognize more and more that every tantrum can’t be controlled with a time-out or a spanking, and that discipline should be tailored to specific situations for each individual child,” she says in the Room for Debate piece.

Do you think most black parents think they are supposed to spank kids? Do you believe in spanking?

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  • veronica ross

    Spanking been around before slavery….probably since the first child was conceived, Spanking goes back to biblical times also…so its not a race issue

  • veronica ross

    I feel everything you said!

  • veronica ross

    Im a biracial black and Mexican parent and my take on this is I don't know every black parent in the world…so it would be ignorant to make an assumption based on that. My half sister is fully black and has spanked her 8 year old 2 times in her 8 years. She doesn't feel its always necessary. My husband is black and we get into it over spankings because that is his answer to everything with both our children. I was never spanked by either my black father or mexican mother. My siblings were. It depends on the child and the person. Whoopings being a part of black culture is an ignorant stereotype like saying all black people love water melon or all mexicans love tortillas—(my husband and son who is technically 75% black hate watermelon)

  • Coriander

    Judging by amount of negative numbers next to those that don't believe in corporal punishment, people on here are complete hypocrites. Probably the same people that believe that you should ignore babies when they cry. smh.

    If you're going to inflict pain on your child in the name of discipline, why bother having them? You're not patient enough to not resort to violence…. you shouldn't be patient enough to be parents in the first place. smh.

    • ana

      It isn't violence. It is controlled physical discipline, no different from the physical discomfort of standing in a corner for an hour straight with no sitting as punishment.

      Verbal lashings can be incredibly violent and damaging, and also used to lash out so often the kid becomes numbed to the parent's seemingly irrational anger and emotions.
      Verbally abusing children exhibits more impatience and immaturity then setting out rules, explaining punishments, telling a kid when and why they are about to get disciplined, using spanking a method of discipline that supports the behavioral framework the parents have created for raising them.

      Spankings are not the same as beatings. If you continue to conflate the two you'll never see where some on the other side are coming from.

      • Coriander

        It's laying your hand on a child against their wishes to inflict pain. It's all the same.

        • ana

          all discipline is against their wishes
          all discipline is meant to inflict discomfort of some type or another

          except it isn't
          is a calm rational lecture on one's bad behavior the same as being screamed at, denigrated, cursed at, torn down in a most unfathomable manner often with no warning or explanation (too often in public)?

          it is the control and the pattern of discipline that marks the difference between verbal and physical chastisement and violent physical and verbal attacks.
          people who don't understand discipline, boundaries, consistency will screw up their spawn whether their spankings are actually beatings, their lectures verbal lashouts, their timeouts unlawful imprisonment, their no dinners forced malnutrition, their toy/activity denials stimuli deprivation and social isolation, their chores child endangerment, their understanding permissiveness. a good parent has an array of punishments they can tailor to the child and situation that teaches a lesson and enforces rules and good behavioral habits successfully, if they so choose.

  • cherokee

    I think Black mothers take WAY too much pride in beating their children. I can't say I never hit my son, but early on I decided it wasn't for me as a form of discipline. How can you deny that you are essentially teaching your child that aggression is an acceptable way to communicate?? in my opinion this plays into why our kids are not only more violent but why our boys don't want "us" as partners when they are grown. Perhaps subconciously they are rejecting the type of woman who slapped, hit, and yelled at them all the time when they needed love and encouragement. who wants that??

  • Anna

    People that believe in spanking/whoopings/beatings are savages.

    Point blank.

    And when your kids grow up to be bullies beating on other people don't get all shocked.

    • ana

      Do you assume every poster here grew up to be a bully or some kind of abuser?

      Spanking isn't whoopings, and neither are beatings. Clearly the first thing that needs to be drawn out is what constitutes spankings. If it is done out of anger, an immediate knee-jerk action, not part of a greater coherent consistent system of discipline and if it uses more strength that a swat, lasts more than a few seconds, includes the use of more than a hand (maybe belt without the buckle, small switch) it is not a spanking.

      I was spanked as a child. I always knew why, it was always explained to me, my parents always sat me down to talk about the situation and why I was in the wrong (usually willfully ignoring their rules and testing them on purpose), also why that form of punishment and what I should take from it and why my behavior showed I couldn't be reasoned with or talked to on the matter. Only happened twice. Better than the lectures, I always felt I was letting them down in those.
      It was just one method in an array of disciplinary measures, and usually explained to me as the ultimate, meaning I was being so childish and unreasonable and mean I lost the benefit of the doubt that more civilized measures could get through to me.

      AFAIK none of the people who bullied me growing up ever received the slightest swat on the tooshie or stern word from their parents.

      • Anna

        My parents don't believe in spanking/whooping any of that stuff. But when they yelled at me or spoke to me sternly, that would straighten me faster than any spanking.

        It's all in the tone that the parent sets with the child behavior-wise. If you, the parent never set a tone that brings out the best behavior in a child, don't be surprise when the child acts out. If you know how to set the tone, the child will know where the bread is buttered.

        • ana

          My parents believed in spanking but didn't believe in yelling/screaming.
          Nothing that conveyed rage or knee jerk emotion, never lashing out verbally.

          I think a parent can set that tone and use a variety of disciplinary measures, including spankings, so long as they don't find themselves relying heavily on them or using any of them in an uncontrolled manner.

  • think about it

    Even if it's true that spanking really does feel like it works (as in, "I remember the lessons I learned from the beatings I got when I was a kid"):

    Expecting beatings is part of a bigger picture of the way people relate to authority. It goes hand in in hand with thinking of the police as out to get you, instead of serving you. I'm not saying either way is better in any absolute sense. I'm just saying that people who teach their kids that authority figures are on their side instead of against them are preparing them to deal with authority later on in a way that seems like it goes a little more smoothly.

  • DJ1969

    Damn all of this PC nonsense. I don't subscribe to negotiating with any child. SPANK THAT ASS.COM! That's why these kids of today are out of control and have no discipline. Not spanking them or disciplining them only sets them up for failure later on in life.

  • Kayla

    have you ever seen a white woman in public and her child is acting out? she tries to get them in line, but she keeps talking to the kid. I've talked to many white mothers and they are too scared to touch their kids. while their kids are yelling and screaming at them and calling them names. etcc….. spanking shouldn't be the first resort, and should be taylored to the childs needs

  • Shannon

    It really all just goes into how well a person is able to discipline their kids. Some parents emphasis manners and proper behavior from the very beginning, while others wait until the problem gets out of control and then spanking is probably the only option. I know lots of kids from ALL races who are very well behaved and they will joke that their parents spanked them at the very least, once. I agree with someone who said that spanking does act as a sort of reminder that their are consequences to your actions. Spanking isn't the only thing that goes into discipline though, if you turn a blind eye to your child's behavior just because they aren't disrespecting you, or it isn't your house that's being disrespected your still sending them the wrong message. In most other cultures families don't even have the same level of difficulty that we do in America in terms of respect and discipline, but that has a lot to do with our increasingly liberal culture which continues to promote a "do whatever you want" lifestyle because apparently there are no longer any real consequences to actions. Other cultures are more conservative in almost every matter….this has a large part to do with the lack of even having to discipline, and why it is much easier.

  • Candy

    Spanking is not the beginning and end of discipline. That's right DISCIPLINE. not punishment, which serves no purpose. I have given out one spanking an that is only after everything else failed.

  • Rosanna

    I don't believe in spanking. I believe in WHOOPING! It is true that discipline should be tailored to the child. And, if your child needs it, give it! They won't die. It doesn't make them violent. It makes them act right. And, it's a parent's choice. Period.

  • Coriander

    Everyone on here that condone spanking… Google Nixmarie Brown.

    That's all I have to say on the subject.

    • Not today

      Spanking is NOT abuse. The Nixmarie Brown parents of the world are too ignorant to know the difference. Kids today want to talk back and act out without being punished for their actions. Parents need to take control of childrearing and stop letting these kids act like they are in charge.

      • Coriander

        It's a gateway to abuse though…. If your child stops responding to the hand, you go to the belt. They get tired of that, you move on to the brush… then the shoe… then the extension cord… then it gets worse from there.

        Spanking is a gateway and a sign that a parent didn't have much control in communicating or appeal to the child's sense in the first place.

    • veronica ross

      Ok but what does child abuse have to do with actual discipline? Hmmmm….thats a completely diff topic

  • Take that Take that

    I was spanked as a child. When and if I have children; I will not spank them. I remember choosing to disobey my mother, at the age of eleven, and making the decision to do so based on the fact that I will ONLY get a spanking that will last a couple of minutes LMAO! I feel that the act of spanking is a parent acting out of anger. I wouldn't want to punish my child out of anger; I'd want to teach them a lesson without being physical. Time outs in a corner, push ups, invisible "chair" against the wall for a minute or two (for older kids), removing toys the child loves are some ways to teach a child a lesson without being physical. I'm not mad at the discipline choice that my parents used because it was all they knew. When you know more, you do more.

    • Adiatc

      Exactly!!! Someone gets it!! Well said.

  • wise one

    Three very important things;

    1)in order to be effective the form of punishment (dare i say it) should actually 'hurt' (of-course timeout don't mean sh#t for most kids nowadays, they'll be playing on their computer the whole time) and must be administered when the parent is no longer angry (that way the child knows they did something serious as opposed to when they do something bad and the parent is angry but later laughs about it).

    2) whatever form of discipline is used it needs to come AFTER it has been thoroughly explained to the child why they are being punished.

    3)the parent must be consistent and firm. if one feels the need to start out with a warning and a promise of a spanking if that behavior is repeated then do so , but keep the promise so that the kid knows you're serious. probably not a good idea to interchange (spank, then warn , then spank again) , it may confuse the kid.

    all of this to ensure that the kid associates the spanking (pain) with the behavior, and will therefore be less likely to repeat it.

    i wasn't spanked myself but my father had a way about him where if he had to sit you down for a talk (after being naughty) you'd start shaking in your boots. and he never swore. i turned out just fine if i do say so myself.


  • Coriander

    Let's not make it a color issue….

    There are better methods of discipline.

    I always found spanking was hypocrisy on the part of parents that do it.

    You're quick to tell and teach a child not to hit or hit back to solve a problem or conflict, but you, the parent, are quicker to use hitting as a way to resolve the situation?

    Does that make any sort of sense?

    Monkey see monkey do ring a bell?

    • Coriander

      Don't you give into a baser instinct when you spank a child?

  • Adiatc

    I'm sure that the jails are full of people (mostly Blacks) who were spanked or beaten as children, yet they have done things they knew were wrong including breaking the law! So the argument that physically striking children as the main or only form of discipline will keep them on the straight and narrow just doesn't hold any water.

    There is no argument that children need to be diciplined. But there are more ways to discipline a child then just hitting them. A parent actually has to take the time to figure out what works best for the situation and the child without reacting in anger. My father (from Nigeria) used to have us do squats and explained to us what we did wrong as we were doing them. Needless to say, he never had to physically stike us. It was punishment for us, we actually had to think about our wrong doing and it gave him time to calm down without reacting to us in a violent way. Children need to understand in their own minds why they should not do wrong. Otherwise they will still do wrong when you a parent is not around or when they don't think they will get caught.

    • veronica ross

      I always tell my husband who gives out a spanking for everything that if them spankings he got when he was little were so effective why isn't he a doctor instead of a cable man lol, wonderful method of discipline your father used I might try it myself.

  • Spanking is not a "black" or "white" thing. It just depends on how you were raised. I am of mixed heritage and my white relatives give out whoopins. When I was growing up we got whoopins, too. Although, I got very few, one that I can recall when I was eight. It was my last one. Now, my black family members are trying this new age approach – the baddest kids I have ever seen, timeout, lectures, and your grounded, does not change these kids. I believe in spanking my kids, not beating them or using extension cords and junk. But I will place you over my leg and whoop your little butt (every blue moon). Mostly, we do talk about feelings and appropriate reactions for different situations. And sometime a whoopin is appropriate.

  • Megan


  • Topics101

    According to a Black Psychologist I spoke with in college, I was informed that the major difference between white and black parents is that Blacks will quickly discipline (cuss and hit), often times without giving a reason or explaining to the child why the spanking was deserved. White families on the other hand tend to go the extra mile and explain to their child why he/she was disciplined, before sending them to time-out.

    As a Black man I must admit I rarely got disciplined as a child. But it's likely due to having two older brothers so "I had a heads up on what NOT to do." Spanking's should not be a main solution for coping with children with behavior issues, nor is the usage of profane language appropiate. Kid's are more likely to do things they have become accustomed to, and to be blunt I'm saying they're the result of their social environmental settings that includes the parents. I think if all kids learned respect and responsibility early in life, little displine will be needed later on as they grow up to be rational thinkers, and accountable for his/her own actions.

  • You have to find that balance as a parent the need for spankings and use of other means of punishment. I believe in spankings because as a child that's what got butt in check. Spanking thought me my actions have consequences and if I do something I know I'm not supposed to, then I knew what was coming. I've seen too many children who need their a$$es beat tell their parents what they are and aren't going to do and become total nightmares! Spare the rod, spoil the child. . .

  • Geena

    i agree with the very end of seeks comment. You can readily twll the difference between a child who is disciplined and one who is negotiated with. All that “be quiet and we go to mcdonalds” crap teaches a kid is that his temper tantrums will be rewarded. Case in point i was at my doctors office last week and two of the worst behaved children from two different families were there. Neither of the children was made to behave and nothing was said or done about their behavior. I was as if the parents were used to it. Not my mama! She would have politely excused us to the bathroom, worn out our little backsides and then we wouldnt have made another peep until it was time to go. Children need to learn boundaries or they grow up to be adults without them and the rest of us have to deal with it

    • cherokee

      A parent who chooses not to spank should not be assumed to simply let their children run amok. that is not always the case. if a child is well behaved how do you know what form of discpline that parent uses?? they could just as well not whip their kids. But that would not prove your point would it? same token a parent who slaps their child upside the head at the slightest transgression is not automatically displaying the best parenting skills. don't pat yourself on the back just because your child is afraid of the backside of your hand. Anyone who is bigger, stronger, and depends on you can exert physical control in the short term. that's not parenting it's bullying.

    • Kara

      You don't know anything about those children. They could be autistic, or have any multitude of disorders that cause them to be almost unmanageable at times. You can't use physical discipline on a child who doesn't understand why they're being spanked. You can spank them all day long and the only effect it's going to have is make them cover their butts when you come around because they think you'll hit them.

  • seek2027

    I do believe in giving spanking because that’s what got my behind in check and I know for a fact those spanking saved me to be honest. Something people think that it’s the wrong thing to do but that’s the problem because when you start negotiating with your kids and letting them act like they have a say so in your house then that’s when they start treating and talking to you any kind of way the feel most of these kids now a day’s don’t need a spanking but nee they As$ kicked period

    Because you can notice the difference between kids who parent who discipline them and the ones who parent just want to negotiate and treat them as an equal.

    • HeadSmackeroni

      Is that difference the black boy selling drugs at 14, and the somewhat sissy white boy who'll be going to a top 50 college at 18?

      There may a difference but clearly white people are doing something better, considering they don't have the drop out, out of wedlock children, and low college attendance rates …like blacks.

      • tam

        um, i see what you're saying but what i've noticed from observing a lot of households is the father is the main disciplinarian and the parent kids fear most. the father is usually the first one to put their foot down. mommy tends to coddle the kids and is more likely to negotiate. guess who is MIA in most black homes ?

        just a thought.

        • HeadSmackeroni

          Not my problem. I'm engaged to wed, and plan to have plenty of children with my future wife.
          My fiance' has no children, and wouldn't have children out of wedlock because she isn't stupid.

          Why do so many black women have kids out of wedlock? Keep your legs closed if you can't manage to tell a man to put a condom on, or can't afford birth control. Plus who'd sleep with a man that doesn't want to strap up in the first place, for his own safety and yours?

          My mother is white, and my father is black – my mother and father both disciplined me. My mother is the only one to spank me as a child, my father was the one to discipline me in non-violent ways as I got older.
          That is my household, I guess you wouldn't know any better though if you've never had a father around. =)

          • HeadSmackeroni

            My fiance' isn't white, so what is your point? Nor she hispanic for that matter.

            Abortions aren't an issue in my eyes, if you aren't ready to be a mother, and don't have a stable home ready for your child – then spare them the misery so many single black mothers bring onto their children.

            Better to not raise a child you don't want, then you have them and raise them in a bitter home, or have yet another child sitting in foster care or worse.

            • tam

              i was raised by both of my parents in the same household and i was just stating something i've noticed in a lot of cultures. no need to be rude.

          • JustAshley

            I'm confused. Didn't HeadSmack state in the other thread where he put down your mother- that his fiance was Brazilian? Didn't he also claim that one of her parents was either white or half white?
            Uh oh. Somebody's caught in a bold faced lie. LMAO

            • Prissy

              Hey Ashley girl!!!! LOL he sure did with his BLACK ass! LOL

              • JustAshley

                He claims his girl is Brazilian but she isn't Hispanic. She's not black or white. Whats left? Do they have Asian-Brazilians? LMAO
                Okay. I'm gonna be good now. I just HAD to point that out.

                • Prissy

                  LOL girl you can't be rational with PSYCHO folk! He is a NUT job for real!!

        • Duni

          You say that, but a majority of the athletes that are admired around the world are the same ones that grew up in 1 parent homes. There is no scientific proof that it is necessary to have a male role model in order to raise a disciplined child. Good monitoring and corporal punishment dolled out when neccesary can breed a well rounded child.
          Oh and btw. There is a great number of white and Hispanic homes that lack in a father figure as well. Choosing just 2 of the races to compare does not make for a fair judgment.

      • Sundoulos

        Not really, because it is the white people that utilize the most welfare benefits & how do think these 16 & pregnant MTV shows derived? Where did the Trig & Mavs come from? So, fall off of the radar with that logic. Secondly, I think that the success comes more with the interaction of the family that we lack, because the single parent (usually mom) has to work long hours on one or two jobs to make ends meet & there's no father in the house & no father figures to influence young children in our communities.

  • HeadSmackeroni

    If you want to make it a color issue then let's look at everyone.

    Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, etc.

    Which of those racial groups tend to pride themselves the most on beating children, and which of those racial groups tend to end up …..not so great?

    Asian parents discipline their children well, I know many that have no problem spanking their child. There is a difference that many black parents have yet to learn between spanking and beating a child out of anger and because you are too uneducated to know of any other methods.

    Overall I think comparing your typical black parent to other parents of other races is silly. I mean you have more Asian American students in AMERICAN colleges than even White American students for many schools….you can't just make it 'black and white'…because not only are the white kids excelling in school and life in general, but so are the Asian students. Racism clearly isn't the reason, it's just bad parenting.