Does spanking cause sexual problems in children when they grow up? A recent study linking some sexual problems to spanking made the headlines not long ago. The study, conducted by Dr. Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, says that spanking or other corporal punishments are more likely to cause sexual problems in children as teens or adults.
According to the study, submitted to the American Psychological Association (APA), children who are spanked, slapped, hit or threw objects at have a greater chance of “verbally and physically coercing a sexual partner to have sex, having premarital sex without condom, and engaging in masochistic sex.”
Dr. Straus, a spanking expert, goes on to suggest that “parents children’s lighting should never spank because, although it does work, it’s no better than non-hitting methods that don’t have harmful effects.”
Before going further, let me say that I generally don’t give this kind of study the time of day or even bother to respond to it, because it is strictly secular and rooted in worldly wisdom; which changes with the times. Not to mention that it is contrary to what I believe, as a Christian.
However, the reason I decided to respond to this study or write on this subject is because I know the impact it may have on some Christian parents. Particularly, those who don’t really know what they believe or how they believe it, i.e., those who try to raise their children on worldly wisdom, from the likes of Dr. Straus, rather than on Godly wisdom, as espoused by the Bible.
Therefore, my response is going to be both from a secular, i.e., commonsensical viewpoint, and from a biblical viewpoint. Now, having said that, let’s examine some of Dr. Straus’ assertions, first from a commonsensical viewpoint…
From the quote above, Dr. Straus clearly identifies three sexual problems, which he attributes to spanking. These are:
·verbally and physically coercing a sexual partner to have sex
·having premarital sex without condom
·engaging in masochistic sex
First, let’s examine the claim that spanking could be the cause of “verbally and physically coercing a sexual partner to have sex.”
I don’t claim to be an expert of any sort, much less a spanking expert, but this could be a result of anything, especially a person’s upbringing, i.e., what he/she saw modeled at home. For instance, if a child is raised in a home where one parent forcefully demands sex from the other parent, chances are the child may do the same thing and think that’s how you get sex. Or it could just be the way a person is mentally wired. But to link this to spanking is ridiculous!
Likewise, engaging in premarital sex without condom could easily be attributed to illiteracy or sexual unawareness. Therefore, the more literate people are, the wiser their decisions when it comes to having sex. More illiterate or sexually ignorant people tend to have sex without condom than people who are literate or sexually educated. Case in point, Uganda. But Dr. Straus attributes this to spanking!
According to news reports, the rapid HIV and AIDS epidemic in Uganda in the early 90’s was attributed to sexual ignorance on the part of the people. So, one of the things they did was to launch a massive sex education campaign about HIV and AIDS, and the danger of having unprotected sex. Needless to say, that helped to reduce drastically, the spread of HIV and AIDS from about 15% of the adult population to about 6.7%, overtime in Uganda.
The Ugandan approach to combat HIV and AIDS has been dubbed the ABC approach: sexual Abstinence (before marriage), faithfulness to one partner, i.e. Be faithful, and Condom use among the unmarrieds or the promiscuous. Therefore, for Dr. Straus to attribute having premarital sex without a condom to spanking is unbelievale!
Also, Dr. Straus attributes engaging in masochistic sex to spanking! This cannot be true. If this were true then most Africans would be masochists! By virtue of the fact that most Africans, especially West Africans, do not believe in sparing the rod to spoil the child. Instead, they believe in spanking, and do spank their children, perhaps more than Westerners. Yet, most Africans, especially West Africans are NOT masochists!
In fact, if there were any such thing as “spanking headquarters,” then Africa, especially West Africa would qualify easily as the spanking headquarters of the world! Or if spanking was a prescription, which the doctor ordered, many African children got them in large doses! Not out of meanness or wickedness but out of love. Most often, people spank out of love. Many African parents are strict, no-nonsense disciplinarians who used spanking as the preferred method of discipline.
I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a community where you not only got spanked by your parents, uncles and aunts or by neighbors, but at school! And I mean up until high school! We outgrew spanking when we got to college. But not until then. Yet, we turned out okay. We didn’t have any of the sexual problems Dr. Straus suggested.