THERE SHOULD BE no doubt in anyone’s mind that one of the more egregious excuses for the practice of spanking lies in a belief that holds children liable for being born into this world with evil and sin in their hearts. Apparently, there are associated behaviors in children that can be attributed to this religious doctrine — such as the view holding children to be little more than selfish, manipulative, dirty, rebellious and wild little beings who need to be broken into submission and forced into the ways of civilized humanity.
@@When looking at the history of our species, one of the more prevalent values held by past societies was a belief that the Gods heaped natural disasters and hardships upon humanity as a punishment for misdeeds. Many past civilizations practiced human sacrifice as a means of appeasing the Gods for the sins of Man.
@@At a time when there existed no understanding as to why anyone would refuse to conform to the behavioral expectations and norms of society, the mystery of anti-social or other abnormal behaviors came to be explained away by the evil of supernatural forces, whose power lay beyond the control of humanity. In ancient societies, it was commonly held that the only way to treat those deemed to be under the control of these supernatural forces bent on destroying Mankind was to execute them.
@@In Christianity, this demonological concept came in the form of a single supernatural evil force (Satan) as a means to explain away otherwise inexplicable undesired behavior. As time went on, the Christian church began to explore more humane treatments other than execution for those who were seen as being possessed or influenced by Satan. These new treatments included the ritual of Exorcism as a means to chase out any demons spawned by the devil. Another treatment involved using a sharp rock to hammer a hole into the skull of those who were seen as “possessed” in an effort to allow the evil entity to escape from the mind of those so afflicted (the practice of this procedure was called “trephining” and served as the first form of Frontal Lobotomy).
@@This demonological concept also holds that we are born into this world already influenced by this evil supernatural force known as the devil or Satan. It is a concept designed to serve as an explanation for our sinful ways by simply deeming humanity to be conceived under the influence of evil. As such, this concept holds that we come into this world with sinful needs and evil intentions. While some denominations of Christianity have eschewed the dictum of “born in sin”, it apparently remains a doctrine still taught by a number of denominations. As the work of the devil, this concept has served to explain away that which would otherwise remain inexplicable in terms of behavior deemed acceptable in the eyes of the Church. While the inherent omnipresence of a lurking Satan serves as good justification for spiritual and financial devotion to the Church, it has also become a concept serving to encourage and perpetuate the practice of spanking children.
@@After more than ten years of observing adamant spanking proponents on a number of parenting sites, I have yet to encounter a pro-spanker who did not hold the belief that children are apparently born as despicable little urchins who are anxiously awaiting their first opportunity to make life miserable for parents. I’ve seen this attitude expressed toward children by mostly those who have been orientated to this view of children through religious training (the “sinful nature” concept).
@@Ominous, indeed, are the implications and risks associated with a belief holding that newborn infants are already afflicted with an underlying desire to behave in sinful ways as a reflection of their evil nature. Parents holding this belief may pay lip service to the term “unconditional love”, but just as they have been led to the conviction of “inherent sin”, it is just as likely that they have also come to be repulsed and frightened by what they perceive as inborn evil or sin. It’s only reasonable that the love of these parents becomes highly conditional when they see the underlying evil in their children finding an anxiously awaited opportunity to express itself. It is also reasonable to expect that these parents would want to eradicate this demonic enemy of righteousness when it makes an appearance by way of their children. Violence would seem to be an expected reaction as a means to destroy or repulse the appearance of evil in the form of sinful behavior. We can see this reaction reflected in the originations of expressions such as beat the devil out of them or knock the hell out of them as a means to expel or destroy sinful behavior.
@@Parents holding this belief must also look upon their newborn babies as possessing a flawed beauty considering those sinful intentions lying just below the surface of a deceptively innocent demeanor. The relationship must involve a degree of distrust from the very beginning with the parent needing to be constantly on guard against these sinful ways in children which can erupt at any moment. With sinful behavior needing to be discouraged or purged as quickly as possible, it is no wonder that we can hear of parents striking their infants in the name of God.
@@The study of human behavior has come a long way since the first attempts to explain unacceptable behavior. We’ve reached a point of accumulated knowledge and understanding of human behavior to where it is much more reasonable and accurate to conclude that evil is created by humanity rather than humanity being born a slave to evil and sin by nature.
@@The Social Sciences have also come to recognize the crucial significance of self-esteem as a developmental characteristic necessary for children to behave in an emotionally healthy, fully functioning manner. Obviously, children being treated in a manner which reflects a belief that they are naturally prone to sin rather than being naturally prone to goodness can in no way be considered a treatment which would be conducive to the development of healthy levels of self-esteem. Another problem with this concept is the Self-fulfilling Prophecy. This is an established psychological principle holding that children will come to behave in ways in which they are expected to behave. Children who are told they are sinful, and consequently come to view themselves as sinful, are prone to behave accordingly. “I am sinful, I am flawed, I am bad, I have evil in me, etc.” can become a part of the child’s self-concept and consequently determine how they behave because of who they see themselves to be.
@@I’ve long since come to the conclusion that the home environment creates “evil” behavior. I have taken any existing empirical data in support of this notion a step farther. I’ve proven this conclusion by raising two children who were born in pure beauty and goodness, treated in beauty and goodness and, as a result, have grown to represent beauty and goodness. As adults, they now spread that same love, beauty and goodness to those around them, and they have been rewarded by a world that so far seems very happy to have them around.
@@A child lost in the inadequacy of sin and badness is likely to develop a willingness to submit to a voice of authority and control through a feeling of being incompetent to function independently without strict guidance (external controls). But a child basking in the glow of their perceived goodness is prepared to venture out into the world as an independent agent with a feeling they might be capable of making this world a better place in which to live. No theory involved here — I’ve lived to see it for myself.
This essay was authored James C. Talbot — June 19, 2012

Mr. Talbot is an author, child activist and a member of the Board of Advisors of The U.S. Alliance to Stop the Hitting of Children

He has authored The Road To Positive Discipline: A Parent’s Guide.