Spanking (physically punishing) a child is not illegal, at least here in the U.S. This type of physical punishment is not even always frowned upon, because of rationalizations like “this is for the kid’s own good” and “I was spanked when I was a kid and look how well I turned out.”
Physically punishing a child is the basest (lowest) form of parenting.
Hitting, kicking, pulling, pushing, whipping, and punching a living being who is physically smaller than you and whose sustainable existence is at your mercy, gets you immediate results for getting that living being’s attention and compliance. For sure. BUT ANYONE CAN DO THIS.
Hitting, kicking, pulling, pushing, whipping, and punching a living being who is physically smaller than you takes no smarts, no intelligence, and no thinking. It just takes a fist, a flick of your wrist, swing of your leg. It just takes making sure the living thing you are punishing is smaller than you, can’t or won’t fight back, and can’t or won’t escape (emancipate) himself or herself from your “care” and “guardianship”.
The only level of intelligence physically harming a smaller living being requires, is that you meter the level of force so you make your point without visibly injuring the kid.
How about figuring out a way to get cooperation from a child at any age by using your intellect, including engineering the environment such that the child naturally “succeeds” more often than the child “fails” at doing what you want a child to do? THIS IS HARD. It takes tremendous mental and emotional/social intelligence on the part of the parent/adult. It takes tremendous conscientiousness to implement, and it takes ridiculous amounts of self-awareness and self-control/self-growth on parents’/adults’ part to continue developing these tools as children grow.
And small kids will grow into bigger kids, who will grow into teenagers, and soon into larger living beings who can hit you back, if they “dare”.
We take the long way instead of the short cut, because we believe that kids will end up actually LEARNING the cause-effect (consequences) of their choices and behaviors as a matter of course, without having to first get over any terror or trauma.
We take the long way instead of the short cut, because we are role modeling behaviors and approaches for gaining cooperation and agreement. We know kids will grow up to learn our behaviors and we’d like to show them sustainable and constructive ways of getting cooperation because the real world has laws against using physical force “because you can”. Our society does not allow physical assault between adults.
Sure, I can push my luck and take the short cut of using fear to force compliance and count on my kid developing a hardened form of “resilience”.
But then I don’t want him to grow up into an adult who assumes hitting kids is the optimal way of parenting, even if this is still considered “normal” in society.
I certainly don’t want the vicious cycle of base-form parenting revisiting our family tree, it’s taken me a generation (mine) to break this link.
***You can substitute emotional manipulation for physical violence; emotional violence is still violence.