How Should We Discipline Our Kids?

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Personalized for you

Why you should care

Because we’re sick of the numbers, the studies, the stats. Spanking is a personal question. 

Anthony Hamilton is an OZY essayist. This is the premiere of an OZY Web series of conversations in Hamilton’s Mountain View, California, barbershop.

It’s a constant debate: to spank or not to spank? Seventy-eight percent of the American public nods sternly in approval of spanking, while the vast majority of academia scowl in disgust. And no matter the level of education, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, almost all Americans were spanked as children. Nearly nine out of 10, in fact. But there’s also a mountain of research that has linked corporal punishment to a range of developmental problems, including anxiety, depression, increased aggression and even heart disease and cancer. And 38 countries have banned corporal punishment.

All the academia aside, there’s the most recent example of the public debate: Adrian Peterson, whose football season is officially over. Unlike Ray Rice, who was caught on camera punching his fiancée in an elevator yet recently reinstated by the NFL, the star Minnesota Vikings running back is benched for the rest of 2014, if not beyond, because he hit his 4-year-old son with a switch, inflicting bruises on the child’s arms, legs and genitals. Peterson pleaded no contest to charges of misdemeanor reckless assault related to child abuse. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed Peterson an indefinite suspension, costing the running back millions. Peterson’s lawyers are appealing the suspension today.

So in an age when many parents still spank but a public figure is publicly, legally shamed for it, how far is too far? When is enough enough? And what role should the state take in dictating to parents how best to discipline their offspring? OZY essayist Anthony Hamilton gathers a group of men from his community to discuss.

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