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Rod rules

"Rod rules" Continued...

Issue: "Exit strategies," Aug. 5, 2006

Often proceeding with that worldview, researchers in psychology departments throughout the country have churned out a steady diet of anti-spanking research. One commonly cited 2002 study published in the weekly journal Psychological Bulletin contends that spanking is linked to delinquency and a failure to learn right from wrong. Other popular studies connect spanking to violent behavior or drug abuse later in life.

These researchers do not distinguish between the angry, frustrated spanking that Ted Tripp condemns and the "careful, measured, gracious" discipline that he recommends.

George Holden, a professor of developmental psychology at the University of Texas in Austin, told WORLD that the overwhelming majority of researchers in his field consider corporal punishment extremely harmful and of no substantial benefit. "Spanking is a bad practice, and people should stop it," he said. Holden admits that spanking typically yields immediate child compliance in the short term, but he argues that destructive long-term impacts include disrespect and resentment of parents.

Dr. William Coleman, chair of the AAP's committee on psychosocial aspects of child and family health, also subscribes to the findings that spanking provokes aggression. He proposes family reeducation: "Most families would not spank if they were a little more supported and informed. . . . Every child's favorite words are no, now, and me. That's normal behavior, but a lot of parents can't understand that, can't accept it."

For many Christian parents, such defiance is not only unacceptable but in critical need of swift and effective correction. The common maxim, "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is a conflation of numerous Proverbs that outline directly the proper method for biblical discipline. One passage states that faithful use of the rod constitutes love while to withhold it is hateful. Another ties spanking to a child's spiritual health. Crucially, the concern is spiritual health, not just a surface obedience. Parents who use the rod unbiblically, in anger, may create problems in their family and in society at large, if biblical discipline is banned.

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