I recently wrote two articles in my Spanish blog against parents physically punishing their children. In the first one, I argued that Skinheads and other very violent youth tend to come from homes in which physical punishment was commongly practiced.

I was very surprised to see that most Spaniards disagreed with me and came out in favor of physically punishing children. Indeed, some readers argued the exact opposite. They said that it is a lack of physical punishment that contributes to Skinhead behavior (Spain has a serious problem with Skinhead violence, with around 3000 attacks per year).

So I wrote a second post in which, as a father who has never physically punished any of his four children, I came out against slapping children or hitting them on the head (the most common way of punishing children in Spain). I was very surprised to see that in this nation of normally very peaceful people, most people again defended these methods as part of a standard educational “arsenal”. There are many testimonials in my Spanish blog from readers who say that they are better people as a result of having been slapped.

Personally I think that hitting children is tantamount to failing as a parent. I could understand that somebody who “loses it” may hit his child, but as a planned practice I find it cruel and counterproductive.

Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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ANA on March 1, 2007  · 

Cuando yo era niña,de esto hace más de medio siglo,a los niños cuando se portaban mal se los encereraba.En uns oportunidad mi madre hizo eso conmigo en un cuarto de depósito donde se encontraba un cajón con doce botellas de vino finìsimo que la bodega MICHEL TORINO le habìa obsequiado a mi padre.
Yo en represalia rompí las doce botellas.
Después me enteré que JUAN MANUEL DE ROSAS había sacado todo el piso de ladrillo del cuarto en que lo encerraron

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semiotek on March 1, 2007  · 

I’m firmly with you on this, Martin – my children (now very much grown) used to be teased by some friends and envied by others because their greatest fear was that their behaviour might “disappoint” their parents!

How anyone can think that punishing violence (or anything else) with violence is a complete mystery to me. Indeed, what right have we to *punish* anyone at all?

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Kasper on March 2, 2007  · 

I agree, no excuse for slapping or hitting children – not even for parents in distress or panic.

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Simon on March 2, 2007  · 


Let me point out (as a scientist) that, strictly speaking, the only conclusion that can be taken from this is that the majority of your Spanish readers that posted a comment were in favour of physical punishment.

As a Spanish reader myself, this is not how I see our society. But then again, I reckon this is just my personal impression.

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Anonymous on March 7, 2007  · 

Well, the scientists kan do some research in the nordic countries where physical punishment of children have been forbidden for decades.

I’d guess they will find that there is no need for physical violence and that the nordic children brought up whithout physical punishment are not worse persons as adults och worse behaved.

What’s so damnd important about being allowed to physically assult persons that are under a certain age? Why make exceptions to human right for underaged people?

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Marco on March 11, 2007  · 

Yes, living in Sweden I nor any of my friends were physically punished when I was a kid, and I certainly see Sweden as being a less agressive country that many others. I wouldn’t draw the conclusion that it factualy is so because of the lack of the slaps, but it does seem to have a connection…

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Swisstripper on March 12, 2007  · 

I fully agree with the guy above Simon, I don´t see the Spanish society in that way. You blogger should have more chats with other Spanish people, ’cause views of that are wider and much more varied than what you´re pinpointing. I´m Swiss and have been living in Spain for over twenty years, and the overwhelming majority of my Spanish fellows don’t keep such a rude outlook about children punishing

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