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Is It Kosher for Parents to Spank?

Spanking was in the news spotlight this year. There was much controversial discussion after a mom smacked her 16-year-old son (on camera) for throwing rocks at the police during a violent demonstration in Baltimore. In June the Massachusetts Supreme Court established guidelines for the use of physical punishment, including spanking, by parents. I was spanked as a child, although only if I’d done something really wrong. The fact that I can’t remember any of the reasons behind getting spanked makes a case for how ineffective, at best, this type of discipline may be. None of the moms I know today spank their kids (I’m told), and yet, as you’ll learn in this issue, the large majority of American parents do spank. We Americans certainly have complicated feelings about the topic, and on whether we are meant to “Spare the rod. Spoil the child.” (Proverbs 13:24). In this issue, we present various Jewish perspectives to help you form or reshape your own opinion. Our name “614” comes from the fact that even though there are 613 good deeds suggested for leading a Jewish life, there’s always room for exploration. No. 614 this month: Be intentional about how you discipline your children.

Michelle Cove, Editor