Do You Approve of Corporal Punishment?

By Dr. Robert Wallace

May 1, 2020 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: Do you believe that spanking is an effective form of child discipline? I'm 12 and still get spanked when I do something my parents don't approve of. My parents seem to think you approve of parents giving out a spanking from time to time to correct bad behavior.

I don't want to just take my parents' word for it; I want to really know what you think because I don't think you approve of physical discipline to correct bad behavior. — Bad Boy at Times, via email

BAD BOY AT TIMES: I feel there are better ways to enforce teen discipline than to inflict corporal punishment. Furthermore, corporal punishment is illegal in the majority of states in America.

I prefer positive goals for disciplining children — those that seek to encourage acceptable behaviors, including how to make good choices and exercise self-control. The integral part of child rearing is good communication and establishing clear guidelines and expectations in advance.

What are these healthier forms of discipline? They include positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits and setting future expectations.

Many psychologists recommend that parents do not use spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating or shaming at any time. I completely agree with this.

My experiences as a high administrator taught me that corporal punishment was often quite ineffective and in the long run usually lead to negative outcomes. Many students I had to discipline at our high school told me stories of the corporal discipline they suffered at home, and based on what I saw, it invariably did not help the particular young person in question. Some of the experiences I listened to were truly horrific.

I am well aware that some parents do believe that corporal punishment is an effective way of disciplining a child. I disagree, and my professional opinion is not subject to change on this matter.

Yes, you can share my answer to your parents, but do so respectfully without gloating that you were correct as to my opinion on this topic.


DR. WALLACE: My last steady boyfriend and I broke up six months ago after a three-year relationship. I've matured from the experience and now realize that no love is perfect and all relationships will have their good times and, unfortunately, their hard times as well.

At this time, I'm dating two different young men, and each of them has something different to offer me. They are very different, but they both treat me really well. Here's my problem: How do I go about selecting one of them as my "main man"? I kind of like them both equally so far, and I know they each care a great deal about me. I've held off getting physical with either of them, and neither of them has asked me to go steady so far.

Since no one is pressing me to make a decision, it's comfortable to just keep dating both of them — but this little voice in the back of my mind says that I've got to start thinking about my future! I'm realistic enough to know that I won't hear wedding bells when I figure out which guy to choose.

I like each one enough to marry, but that's impossible and would be immoral and illegal! I'm now confused on how to decide which one will be my forever love! By the way, I just turned 20 years old. — Double Dates, Uncertain Fate, via email

DOUBLE DATES, UNCERTAIN FATE: If you hadn't told me that you were 20, I would have guessed that you were much older and that you felt this might be your final chance to find a mate!

You have a problem that many young ladies would enjoy — two desirable men seeking your company and treating you well. Enjoy your situation, and forget about choosing one immediately to be your "main man." Who knows? You might not have met your "main man" just yet.

I trust over time you'll prefer one young man more than the other, and when that time comes, be respectful and honest with the other one. Remember that you might find yourself on the other end of this situation some day, so treat others how you would like to be treated — with dignity and respect.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: aliceabc0 at Pixabay

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