Spare the Rod-Spoil the Child – Part I

Spare the Rod–spoil the child has reached new heights of sadistic and barbaric torture of children. A device called, “The Rod,” is manufactured in Oklahoma, for the sole purpose of whipping babies and children on their bare skin. The device is sold along with specific and explicit manuals such as: “To Train Up a Child” and “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” [both sold at and Barnes & Noble] that recommend whipping infants one year of age or younger.

“The Rod” is touted as the next best thing since sliced bread. It is sold as the ideal tool for child training. Child training?–sounds more like someone is talking about training an animal–but animal cruelty is considered criminal, so you won’t see “the Rod” advertised for training your dog. If a person hit an animal with “The Rod” as intended–those who administered or allowed the abuse to be administered would be arrested for cruelty.

The ad for “The Rod” cites the following features and benefits:


o Flexible nylon rod–leaves the right amount of sting without injury

o Cushioned vinyl grip (manufactured for bicycle handle)–easy on parents hands and prevents stress on hand/arm muscles

o Balanced–assures accuracy

o Lightweight–your hand/arm doesn’t tire during use

o Safety tip–prevents the nylon from developing rough edges

o Convenient–fits easily into a purse or diaper bag

o Affordable–buy one for the kitchen, bedroom, car, wherever

o Unbreakable–will last a life time

o Guaranteed–satisfaction or your money back


o Spoons are for cooking

o Belts are for holding up pants

o Hands are for loving

o Rods are for chastening–Proverbs 23:13-14 AND Proverbs 22:15.

Those who believe chastening is commended in the Bible, specifically the book of Proverbs have misinterpreted the Bible. There is a distinction between the practice in King Solomon’s day of beating people on the back and the modern American habit of buttocks hitting, chastening, spanking of children. The latter is not prescribed anywhere in the Bible. Furthermore, it needs to be pointed out that the Old Testament contains passages that could be (and in some incidents have been) construed as divine endorsements of wife-beating, racial warfare, slavery, the stoning to death of rebellious children and other behaviors that are outrageous by today’s standards. As Shakespeare once wrote, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

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Chastening, a.k.a. hitting/switching/whipping/corporal punishment, can weaken the survivor’s immune system according to Dr. Frank Putnam of the National Institute of Mental Health and Dr. Martin Teicher of Harvard Medical School. Putnam conducted studies of 170 girls, 6-15 years old–half had been subjected to ‘corporal punishment,’ half had not—for seven years. The abused girls displayed symptoms such as:

o Abnormally high stress hormones, which can kill neurons in brain areas crucial for thinking and memory

o High levels of an antibody that weaken the immune system

Teicher completed a series of brain studies on 402 children and adults, many of whom had been physically abused. His finds revealed that physical abuse creates:

o Arrested growth of the left hemisphere of the brain which can hamper development of language and logic

o Growth of the right hemisphere of the brain (the site for emotion) at an abnormally early age

The result of a weakened immune system includes more profound as well as seldom recognized physical aftereffects such as: vaginal, ovarian, prostate, testicular or breast cancer, PMS, MS, fibromyalgia, to name a few of the most prominent illness as a result of surviving physical abuse. Louise Hay in her Book, Heal Your Body–The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Ways to Overcome Them, cited her own vaginal cancer as an example of a weakened immune system due to physical/sexual abuse and how Metaphysical healing can heal the body.

Our laws and our cultural values are unambiguous concerning adults who physically attack or verbally threaten adults. Such behavior is recognized as criminal, and we hold the offenders accountable. Why then, when so much is at stake for society, do we accept the convoluted thinking and excuses of child of child abusers–all in the name of religion?

Why do we become interested in the needs of children only after they have been terribly victimized, or have become delinquents victimizing others?

The answer is not complicated. People cannot have empathy toward abused children until they can honestly acknowledge the mistreatment from their own childhood experiences and examine the shortcomings of their parents. To the extent they feel compelled to defend their parents and guard their secrets, they will do the same for others. They will look the other way. They will continue to use the misinterpreted Biblical passage. By continually insisting that they “turned out okay,” they are reassuring themselves and diverting their attention from deeply hidden unpleasant memories.

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This is why, when someone says, “‘spanking/chastening’ is abuse,” many people react as though a door barricaded since infancy has been smashed open. This barricaded, unconscious door has prevented them from committing the most dangerous most unpardonable act of disloyalty imaginable, disloyalty to their parents. They are afraid that by opening the door to the truth, they might fall through into an abyss–abandoned and cut off from any possibility of reconciliation with the parents they love. The fear is irrational. Denial–about what was done to you and, now, what you are doing and allowing to be done to this generation–is the current danger and the real sin.

The following books are excellent resources for healthy parenting:

-Case Against Spanking, Irwin Hyman

-Without Spanking or Spoiling, Elizabeth Crary

-Instead of Spanking-1001 Alternatives, Vol. 2, Adah Maurer

-Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking, Jerry Wyckoff

-One Hundred One Alternatives to Nagging, Yelling or Spanking, Alvin Price

We are responsible:

“Those who ignore the past are condemned to repeat it.” -Sartre

“We are not only responsible for what we do, but also, for that what we don’t do.”


“The worst way you can choose is to choose no way at all.” –Friedrich II

“Every choice we make, every thought and feeling we have, is an act of power that has biological, environmental, social, personal and global consequences.” –Caroline Myss

It is time to do whatever you can to stop the sanctioned and barbaric practice of child abuse–in the guise of Biblical command.


by Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD