Yup, I Have My Own Kid Now. And Yup, I Still Believe Spanking Is A Terrible And Cruel Form Of Discipline

Damon Young
Damon Young

I'm going to keep this short. Because I've already written on this topic. And because Stacey Patton's brilliant and searing New York Times piece ("Stop Beating Black Children") makes the case better than I ever could, tracing the cruel and dangerous and useless practice of beating our own kids into suitable behavior back to slavery, arguing that we're ultimately just mimicking the violence our oppressors practiced on us.


Whenever I'd express my distaste for corporal punishment — arguing that it makes no logical or moral sense that the only people we're allowed to hit are our children (the only people too small and weak and scared to defend themselves) — invariably three counterarguments would arise:

1. It's an effective and occasionally necessary practice that has saved children and young adults from harm, violence, prison, and even death

2. Our parents and grandparents did it and we turned out fine

3. Wait until you have your own kids and report back

The first argument has been debunked dozens of times. Spanking actually does the opposite of the intended effect, as its more likely to lead to more aggressive, more anti-social, and more abusive behavior.

The second argument is a logical fallacy. We turned out fine in spite of being spanked, slapped, and beaten, not because of it. This, btw, doesn't mean that our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents were bad parents. They just did the best that they could in the world they existed in and with the information that was available. We have more information now — about what works and what doesn't and what's helpful and what's genuinely abusive — and we're obligated to use it. We wouldn't want our children's teachers and doctors to rely on 100-year-old practices when dealing with them, so why is that cool when it comes to parenting?

As far as the third argument, well, I have a daughter now, so I can finally report back. And my report, after 15 months of parenthood, is fuck no I'll never, ever, ever, ever, ever hit her. Are you fucking crazy? And if you lay a hand on her I'll fucking kill you.


So I guess that settles that.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



I don't have any children so feel free to ignore this.

I just wish in general that parents (and people in general but specifically parents) were just overall nicer to Black kids. It often feels like people are waiting on baited breathe for a Black child to mess up so they can have an excuse to take it out with them. Obviously there are bad Black kids just like kids of all races and blah blah blah. There's this bizarre immediate reaction that I've often seen from Black parents to just yell at or berate their kids. Like relax they're a child. They are literally still developing in every single possible way a human being can.