Readers keep the debate going:
Speaking for myself, the use of corporal punishment on a child should be something of the nuclear option of discipline. I was spanked three times that I remember vividly, even to this day. And all three of those times I had done something that directly endangered myself or another. Looking back, if I had been in my father’s place, I would have reached for the physical option too.
Because of how rarely spanking happened in my childhood, it was always given the weight it deserved. On the spectrum of possible discipline methods, this is the one that spoke in absolutes: What has been done is completely and unambiguously unacceptable. To hit a child is a very serious thing, and it should be treated as such. But to me, it’s when it becomes the go-to option of discipline that it crosses into abuse and it ceases to be a drastic corrective so much as punishment pure and simple.
Like so many other things, when one decides it is necessary to step beyond the norms, they should have a very very good reason for doing so, and be willing to take ownership of the action.
Another reader draws a distinction based on age:
I think spanking is necessary for very small/young children. They don’t have the ability to reason. What you say to them makes little sense. If your child is sticking his figure in a socket, you you need to tap his hand, every time he does it. The slight sting will be a reminder that will save his life.
However, when children are able to communicate and understand logic, talking and consistently enforcing consequences is the way to go. Spanking is useless and mean after a certain age.
This reader suggests an alternative way to spank: