Spanking is sexual abuse


Spanking as a form of discipline? THINK AGAIN!

This is an amazing article breaks it down into smallest details. Worth reading and reconsidering your old ways of discipline:


Spanking, defined as slapping of the buttocks, is a form of hitting and thus of physical violence. That fact alone should make the spanking of children unacceptable by the same standards that protect adults, who are not as vulnerable. However, there is more to spanking than simply hitting: spanking also trespasses on one of the body’s most private and sexual areas—the buttocks. To fully address the wrongness of spanking children, therefore, we must consider not only the issue of physical violence, but also the issue of sexual trespass. While the harm of spanking’s physical violence has been thoroughly explained and demonstrated over the past century in a vast body of academic literature, scientific research, legal treatises, and relatively recently in the popular media, it is quite rare that the sexual consequences of spanking are openly and seriously discussed. This pamphlet aims to raise public awareness about the sexual aspects which make spanking an especially inappropriate and even dangerous way of disciplining children, whether it is done by parents, educators or other caretakers. While this pamphlet focuses on “spanking,” the most seemingly benign form of physical punishment, the arguments raised herein apply equally to paddling, switching, caning, strapping, or any other mode of forcible buttock-beating.
Buttocks are a sexual zone
Like women’s breasts, the buttocks are a sexual or erogenous part of the human anatomy, even though they are not actually sex organs. This is why baring one’s buttocks in public is considered indecent as well as unlawful and why their exposure in movies or on television constitutes nudity. It is also why someone who uninvitedly fondles another person’s buttocks is treated by law as a sexual offender. The sexual nature of the buttocks is explained not only by their proximity to the genitals, but also by their high concentration of nerve endings which lead directly to sexual nerve centers. Hence, the buttocks are a major locus of sexual signals.

Children are sexual beings

The sexuality of the buttocks is significant not just to adults, but to children as well. Even though they are sexually immature and without an active sex drive, children are from birth neurologically complete sexual beings who are capable of experiencing erotic sensation. The existence of pedophiles, furthermore, means that children can also become the targets of sexual intentions. As much as we might like to imagine childhood as an innocent, carefree world beyond the influence of sexuality, we do children a disservice if we fail to recognize that they too have erogenous zones which deserve consideration and respect.

Spanking as sexual violation

Since children are sexual beings and since the buttocks are a sexual region of the body, we should question the propriety of slapping children’s buttocks. We generally understand that fondling or caressing a child’s buttocks is a sexual offense (even if the child does not understand it to be so). We also know that slapping an adult’s buttocks is a sexual offense (even if the offender does not get sexual pleasure from doing so).

The question, then, is why slapping a child’s buttocks is not considered a sexual offense. Is it because spanking, unlike fondling, is physically painful and used to punish misbehavior? No, or painfully spanking a misbehaving adult would not be a sexual offense. Is it because children are less likely to be sexual targets than adults, less likely to feel violated, and therefore protected less strictly? No, or fondling an adult would be a far more serious crime than fondling a child. A more plausible explanation for this breach of logic is simply that the majority of people are unable or unwilling to believe there could be anything indecent about a practice as old, common and accepted as the spanking of children—something which nearly everyone has received, given or witnessed at least once. And since spankings typically come from esteemed or even beloved authority figures, many people are loath to question this behavior.

In any case, freedom from sexual violation is one of the basic tenets of liberty most revered by Americans and by most of the free world. As this principle of inviolacy applies to adults, it should apply equally, if not especially, to children, who are below the age of consent. Spanking children may be a time-honored tradition, but any tradition that so gratuitously disregards their inviolacy deserves to be discontinued.

Some argue that spanking is justified or even commanded by the Bible, specifically the Book of Proverbs. There is a distinction, however, which should be of key interest to fundamentalists, between the practice in King Solomon’s day of beating people on the back and the modern American habit of buttocks-hitting: the latter is not prescribed anywhere in the Bible. Moreover, it should be kept in mind that the Old Testament contains passages which could be (and in some cases have been) construed as divine endorsements of wife-beating, racial warfare, slavery, the stoning to death of rebellious children and other behaviors that are outrageous by today’s standards. As Shakespeare once wrote, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

Spanking as sexual abuse

As in ages past, there are people today who are sexually excited by spanking. This trait, which is often expressed in pornography and associated with sadomasochism, is known in scientific literature as flagellantism. While many flagellants seek to engage in consensual spanking between adults, some find the spanking of minors to be either more arousing or more opportune.

Since children in this country up to eighteen years old can still be legally and forcibly spanked by parents, guardians, teachers, school principals and other child care professionals, it is often easy for flagellants to obtain positions where they can sexually abuse children with little or no fear of repercussions. As long as society sees spanking as a legitimate act of discipline, and as long as the spanked youths are presumed to have “deserved” it, sexually abusive spankers have an effective moralistic disguise for their true motives. History, court records and current events contain numerous cases of flagellant sexual abuse against defenseless victims, and there is no telling how many instances have gone unreported.

Some adults might rationalize: “Well, I know my intentions are purely nonsexual, so there’s nothing wrong with my spanking a child.” The main problem with this rationale is that it fails to consider all the children who are at the mercy of other adults, among whom there will always be some with motives that are not so pure – and not necessarily obvious. Even spankings that have no sexual motive contribute to the cover that sexually abusive spankers depend on, affirming the old alibi: “Hey, lots of people spank their kids. So what’s the big deal?”

Spanking and psychosexual development

Even without sexual motives on the part of the punisher, spanking can interfere with a child’s normal sexual and psychological development. Because the buttocks are so close to the genitals and so multiply linked to sexual nerve centers, slapping them can trigger powerful and involuntary sensations of sexual pleasure. This can happen even in very young children, and even in spite of great, clearly upsetting pain.

This kind of sexual stimulation, which undermines any disciplinary purpose and which most people would agree is unsuitable for children in any context, can cause a child to impressionably attach his or her sexuality to the idea of spanking. This fixation may endure to cause problems in adult life. Or, on the other hand, the child might react against these unseemly feelings of pleasure by repressing his or her sexuality, so much perhaps that as an adult, he or she has difficulty experiencing sexual pleasure and intimacy.

An additional danger is that the confusing mixture of pleasure with pain will become the basis for permanent sadomasochistic tendencies. Sadomasochism, in which a person takes pleasure in inflicting or receiving pain, drives behavior that is destructive to oneself and to others, and therefore to society at large. While the intensity and background of individuals’ sadomasochism varies widely, the great majority of studied cases point to the same primary cause: childhood whippings, usually on the buttocks.

The odds that spanking a child will lead to psychosexual aberrations would be difficult to calculate. However, the fact that there is any chance of these problems occurring should be reason enough to abandon the practice. (It is important to note that even children who are never spanked themselves can be negatively impacted by seeing other children punished this way.) The risks are completely unnecessary.

Spanking and modesty

Imagine your reaction if an authority figure, having discovered some misdeed of yours, pinned you across his lap and began slapping your buttocks. Painfulness aside, most people would consider this a rude, inexcusable assault on their modesty, no matter what they had done to “deserve” it.

Many people might assume that children, especially very young children, are too ignorant or naive to feel such indignity, or perhaps too impressed by the physical pain of spanking to care about much else. The truth is, however, that spanking can seriously injure a child’s sense of modesty. When a child is old enough to be told by adults to act modestly (which is not merely a social requirement, but also a wise precaution against potential child molesters), that child is likely to internalize and develop modesty as a personal value that will increase with age. This value persists even though the child might lapse into immodest behavior from time to time, as most children do. Consequently, the child whose buttocks are slapped may experience deep and lasting sexual shame, especially if the punishment is done in front of others or involves a state of undress. Actually, there are some adults who consciously emphasize this humiliation as part of the punishment (and some, for that matter, who do not limit spanking to younger children or even to preteens). But just as inflicting sexual shame is an unthinkable punishment for adults in any civilized society, it is surely an outrageous way to treat children.

It is a strange inconsistency, furthermore, for adults to exhort children to modesty while punishing them in a way that aggressively denies their modesty and privacy. Such mixed messages tend to confuse children or make them skeptical toward adult authority. Especially if adults hope to instill children with strong values of modesty, self-respect, and respect for others — values that become very important through the trials of puberty and adolescence — adults should teach by example and refrain from the disrespectful practice of bottom-slapping.


It is not disputed that spanking has a sexual side as well as a punitive side. Indeed, our popular culture and media suggest there is wide awareness of this fact, however unspoken. Society has nonetheless failed to squarely address the serious implications of spanking’s punitive/sexual duality. Considering the power of sex to corrupt, along with the coercive nature of punishment, we should be alarmed at the very idea of discipline through spanking – all the more so when it is directed at a group of people as powerless, fragile and unsuspecting as children.”


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