Well, dang, I hate to bring up a thread that's pretty much over, but, well, darn that 30-day membership requirement for posting in IMO! I was just itching to get in here.
First of all, I should point out that "a swat or 2" is not considered by pro-spanking people to be an actual spanking. Someone who limits themselves to that will be considered by the pro-spankers to be a "non-spanker". So my answers will reflect "real world" pro-spanking parenting that I've observed.
1. Were you spanked? If so, do you hold any ill will towards your parents for doing so? Has it influenced your choice to spank or not spank your child?
Yes, though not terribly frequently and not very severely. I do not blame my mother; it was the way she was raised and she didn't know any better at that point. She was also bullied and pressured into spanking by the other mothers in her peer group, against whom I DO hold a great deal of ill will. In my mother's favor, she stopped spanking us as soon as the ill effects became obvious.
I was VERY damaged in many ways by being spanked, and by seeing my brother/friends being spanked. I have panic attacks, etc. From my research, I believe I have a mild case of PTSD. If someone smacks their kid in the grocery store (in the aisle or in the bathroom while I'm there) I'm a wreck and have to leave without finishing my shopping. It is the epitome of RUDE for anyone to hit their child in public and I wish it was illegal (I think it is in Minnesota).
My brother also has a great deal of emotional damage caused by it, and he and his fiancee have chosen NOT to spank their kids.
2. Do you or have you spanked your child? If you don't have children, do you think you would or would not spank?
I would try not to. Of course, I'm not perfect and I'm sure I'd slip up at least a couple times in my kid's life. I would feel terribly guilty and all that, but I'm sure it would happen. I do not think physical punishment has ANY positive effect at all. As I've said, my brother has chosen not to use physical punishment with his children.
3. What warrants a spanking?
4. Do you think spanking is physical abuse?
Frequently it does escalate to that point, yes, but not always. If a parent held themselves to one swat or 2, I would not consider it abuse. But I haven't seen that in the majority of pro-spanking parents.
More importantly, I do think spanking can fall into the realm of sexual abuse. Especially if done by someone who is not a parent, which is never acceptable. How do you tell a child that they shouldn't let people touch their butts, but, wait, if you're bad, you HAVE TO let people touch your butt? Can't be done without making the child more vulnerable to sexual abuse. The buttocks are considered part of the erogenous zone, and that can seriously confuse a child.
5. Do you think a child who has been spanked will grow up to think hitting is ok, and be more physically aggressive?
I've seen it happen all the time. Not all kids who are spanked will become violent (some will become sad and withdrawn instead), but it happens frequently. My brother was very aggressive as a child (I was the withdrawn one).
Overall, what are your thoughts on spanking as a form of discipline?
Doesn't work. All the children I've met who were spanked frequently have NO conscience. It's only wrong if they get spanked for it. Horrid kids; disrespectful, disobedient (unless an adult is standing over them with a belt), no sense of right and wrong at all. Yes, this is what I've seen in kids spanked frequently, I'm sure the ill effects are not so pronounced if the physical punishment is less frequent. Most pro-spank parents cannot manage "less frequent". They have gotten into the habit of lashing out to stop the immediate behavior, and have no concept of how to solve bad behaviors long-term.
Many things pro-spankers use to defend themselves make no sense. For instance, to use spanking on a child that is "too young to be reasoned with" makes NO sense, because, if the child cannot be reasoned with verbally, he/she is also not capable or associating physical punishment with their behavior. Either the parent is underestimating their child's ability to reason verbally, or they're overestimating their child's ability to associate punishment with behavior. Either way, spanking a BABY is cruel and unacceptable in a civilized society.
I have heard parents threatening a 2-year-old with a belt, I have seen/heard people hit their babies (under 3 is a baby) to make them go to sleep every night (makes them cry so hard they exhaust themselves), I have seen and heard of so much abuse that I cannot condone spanking in any form, because of a human's tendency to escalate behaviors. I live in small-town, white-bread, middle America, and this is considered by many to be normal parenting. If it does not fit the legal definition of physical abuse Social Services can do nothing.