A new study has confirmed what black people always joke about when it comes to raising our kids: we will spank that behind. A new study from the University of Texas at Austin shows that 89% of African Americans spank their children and are more likely to whip, paddle, and use other physical punishments for discipline.
Black parents aren’t really much further ahead of other ethnic groups in terms of their use of corporal punishment. Numbers from the study show that 80% of Hispanic parents, 79% of Caucasian parents, and 73% of Asian parents have spanked their kids. Still, a host of explanations has been offered as to why this practice is more common among black parents, including the idea that spanking is a tradition “left by the brutality of slavery,” according to a CNN report. Other experts say spanking among black parents is rooted in fear that their child may become disobedient. Data suggesting lower income and less educated black people are more likely to physically punish their children serves to paint a very clear picture of how this practice is viewed by non-African Americans.
Some say there is a fine line between beating and spanking a child, but I think the distinction is quite clear. To propose that black parents spank because they were exposed to beatings as slaves and passed down the tradition, suggests that black parents are regularly beating their children and I don’t believe that to be the case. The mention of poor and uneducated African Americans resorting to spanking also draws images of inarticulate parents who aren’t able to verbally instruct their children without laying hands on them.
If black parents are using physical punishment because somewhere in their lineage an ancestor was whipped, I need to know why significantly more than half of Hispanic, Caucasian, and Asian parents also use corporal punishment as part of their parenting strategy. It’s unfair to frame this practice among the black community under the guise of a history of societal oppression. Just because in this day and age parents come under harsh scrutiny for merely popping a child’s hand in the grocery store doesn’t mean we need to look at spanking as a black issue that needs to be fixed. The focus on black parents appears to be just another way to scapegoat us as violent people.
Do you think it’s fair to suggest black parents spank their children more because of the scars of slavery? If so, what is the driving force behind Hispanic, Caucasian, and Asian parents’ use of corporal punishment?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.