Everybody is upset. Parents, church people and alumni of the SA school of corporal punishment. The highest court in the land just declared that a private spanking of your own children under the roof of your own home is illegal; in fact, you could go to prison for laying hands on your offspring. The arguments for spanking your own children are both familiar and ridiculous.

One, I was spanked as a child and look at how I turned out. A heartless politician (who famously punted beetroot for those dying of Aids) once made that point, not realising she was making a solid argument for abandoning the stick. In the world of science you cannot present as evidence a personal, untested anecdote. You turn to research and especially that variety that examines large numbers of studies which examine the effects of Intervention X on Outcome Y. That research is unequivocal: over time corporal punishment has negative development effects on children. End of story.

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