By Jordan Riak
November, 2001; Revised April 2006

Ask ten spankers the right way to do it, and you'll get ten different, conflicting descriptions. The more closely you listen to them, the more confused the picture becomes. Following are just a few of the sticking points:
  • What is the earliest age at which a child (infant) may be spanked?
  • What is the oldest age at which a spanking may be appropriate?
  • Should a spanking be applied to the bare bottom or clothed (diapered) bottom?
  • Should spanking be done only in private, or immediately upon commission of the punishable offense?
  • Should the spanker use the hand so as to get "instant feedback," or never use the hand, but rather a "neutral" object, e.g., a pastry spatula, hair brush, belt?
  • Should spanking leave marks? If so, how long should the marks last, and should the marks on a fair-skinned child be assessed differently than the marks on a dark-skinned child?
  • Should a spanking be prolonged until the child cries?
  • Should a child be spanked for crying?
  • Should girls be spanked differently than boys?
  • Should boyfriends of single moms be authorized to spank cranky infants?
  • Should stepdads have free rein to spank disobedient teenage stepdaughters?
It seems that the only common ground among spankers is each one's solemn belief that what he or she does is the One and Only True Method. They present themselves as irrefutable living proof of its benefits, and defend their right to bestow those same benefits on children under their control.

I, for one, would like to see some order imposed on this chaos. I recommend a temporary moratorium on all spanking pending the outcome of multilateral negotiations between spankers. The assembled spankers would commit themselves to engage in peaceful debate until they arrive at a consensus. The result would then be published in all major languages and distributed worldwide. It could be titled, "The Unified Theory of Spanking."

But there is a risk that my plan will not work as smoothly as I've described. The debate could degenerated into irreconcilable squabbling between the parties. They could stay deadlocked for eternity, thus rendering the whole issue moot and ushering in a brighter, healthier, happier era for generations to follow. Can you just imagine that?