CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Spanking is a subject guaranteed to start a debate. But who should decide how to discipline children, parents or lawmakers?
The town of Madison Heights Michigan has designated “No-Hit Zones” in public places like the park and library.
City Councilman David Soltis came up with the zones, after researching the lifelong, negative effects of spanking.
“I think it’s more about children’s rights,” said Soltis. “I think they have a right not to be physically hurt or harmed.”
Not everyone is on board with the idea.
"I think that if your kid acts up in public, you have the right to spank them,” said Madison Heights resident Sly Warthen. “I don’t think the city has the right to do that, it should be left up to the parents.”
Soltis disagrees with those who call it government overreach. “When I hear that, I think there are laws for car seats, we have laws that children can’t smoke so I don’t see this as anything more than just adding onto the child’s rights.”
Cleveland 19 met with a group of Cleveland-area moms whose children range from toddlers to teens. Three have spanked their children, one does not, and another says her children are young but she’s not opposed to spanking. Four of the women remember getting corporal punishment, ranging from a little smack on the hand to the dreaded belt.
“I was spanked quite a bit growing up so I have a firm belief in it,” said mom, Katie White.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics just strengthened its stand against spanking, saying parents should never hit or verbally abuse their children because it doesn’t work. Researchers say it could even cause changes in a child’s brain linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders.
“I have spanked but I’m not sure how I feel about it anymore because I feel there’s quite a fine line between spanking and abuse,” said mom Sonja Bryant.
The moms say they do understand how spanking could lead to long-term damage.
“My husband and I did discuss that and say, we’re not going to do that, but we’ll take the best parts of our discipline that we were brought up with and use that, and that’s being strict,” said mom, Maria Velkos.
“If you grew up in a household and you got spankings, growing up you might get into a relationship where you feel it’s ok for a guy or woman to put their hands on you,” said mom, Chanel Jackson.
“We were at one of my children’s basketball games and I saw a kid who was acting up but then the parent was verbally abusive,” said mom, Maria Cribbs. “I don’t know why, but I would rather she spanked him than talk down to him like that.”
Madison Heights' No-Hit Zones are actually a non-violence resolution: an adult cannot hit another adult, a child can’t hit another child.
“Teenagers thought it was a good idea, because it seems like an anti-bullying statement as well,” said Soltis.
But he would like to go even further, a state law banning spanking.
“If I hit another adult, then I’m going to jail, but it’s ok with a child and to me they’re the most vulnerable,” said Soltis. “I feel disappointed that the rest of the country isn’t on board and it’s 2018 and we’re still talking about this.”