I read that a California legislator wants pass a law to ban spanking of children who are 3 years old or younger. (See "Spank A Kid, Go to Jail"
or No-spanking law ….)
Personally, I do not approve of spanking. I think the more you escalate punishment with your child, the more you have to escalate. My wife and I rarely raise our voices with our son, never mind spanking. We don't need to raise our voices or spank, if we so much as use an urgent tone with him, he is practically in tears. It's not out of fear of something severe. We just rarely have to use that tone; he's not used to it, so calmer warnings have an effect. If he doesn't respond to verbal warnings, a "time-out" is more than enough convincing. Why? Firstly, I believe our son is well-attached to us and wants to please us as much as we want to make him happy. Secondly, when we give positive or negative consequences, we follow through and are consistent, and I believe he has internalized this.
Those things having been said, a law against spanking is probably a bad idea. Granted, spanking a baby or very young toddler goes beyond bad parenting. I believe such treatment, at the very least, adversely affects the child psychologically and hurts the parent-child relationship. The problem is that there is a large population of people in our country who feel that as a part of their freedom as parents they have a right to spank, and this right is well entrenched in their social philosophy. With the linking of the news of the anti-spanking proposal on the "Drudge Report," this segment of the population has already tagged the idea as a ridiculous product of the lunatic fringe. This bill is likely to create nothing but backlash.
Moreover, the law seems marginally enforceable. Public social service agencies and law enforcement have a difficult enough time catching and sorting out cases of much more severe abuse. Nevertheless, hoping human service agencies find those individual cases where spanking crosses the line seems the best we can do at this time.