Amanda links to this article in Salon about spanking as a means of punishing children. The article focuses on Christian pro-spankers, but many secular parents believe in spanking too. Em in the Pandagon comment thread following Amanda's post said:
What I learned from being spanked:
Don’t get caught.
Don’t show your emotions even when you’re hurt.
Shut up and take it b/c whatever it is, you deserve it.
Great life lessons that have crippled my social, professional, and personal development (ever have to fight to urge to lie to a partner about something as silly as eating cookies for the fear-panic of the possibility of getting caught? It’s infuriating to recognize yourself falling into the same old destructive patterns that you weren’t responsible for laying down.) and that I will be unlearning for the rest of my life.
Sad to say, I can relate to what Em is saying all too well. If you had met me when I was a child, you would have perceived me as a happy, well-adjusted, and well-behaved little girl, the perfect child. In fact, I seethed with hatred and anger. To this day, I resent having had to go through the experience of being cowed into submission by the threat (and reality) of physical violence and humiliation. No one should ever have to go through that.
Spanking may appear to yield marvelous results. Spanking, or the threat of spanking, can force immediate obedience in a child. But it is just not worth doing that to your kid. The violence and humiliation of the act itself are reason enough not to do it. But the long term consequences are perhaps even worse. Spanking does not teach children to internalize a moral compass. Instead, spanking teaches fear and anger. Fear and anger are incredibly destructive forces that can cripple your child in all sorts of ways for years to come.
To me, some of the worst aspects of spanking in our culture are the notion that spanking is a cute, funny, minor thing. It amazes me that a parent can purposely and deliberately inflict pain and humiliation on a tiny, helpless, utterly dependent child and not understand that the child's logical reaction is hatred.
UPDATE: I have responded here to some of the comments below.