Q: My 3-year-old son has acquired the habit of running away from me, sometimes right into traffic. The other day he did it, and I was so angry and scared that I spanked him pretty hard. I got a lot of dirty looks, but he hasn't done it since. Is spanking always a bad idea?
A: Never hit a child in anger! Children can experience what you intend to be "discipline" as violence. Parents who strike children in anger may injure them or set a bad example. You say spanking works—but research does not back you up. I am categorically opposed to corporal punishment. — Anita L. Allen, professor of law and philosophy, the University of Pennsylvania Law School
I agree: A spanking should never be motivated by anger. Administering a spanking out of emotion, rather than as a calculated effort to teach, is misguided parental conduct that can turn into a dangerous habit. But I don't believe spanking is inherently wrong, if it is controlled, explained, just, symbolic, and rare, rather than routine and excruciating. Spanking, if used, must be seen by the child as the reluctant act of a loving parent who has a clear message to convey—not the impulsive act of a vengeful adult. — Jack Marshall, president, ProEthics.