Poor Gloria Ballard of Ohio. She's in big trouble. As a matter of fact, she could face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine for assault.

Did Gloria lose her temper and throw a frying pan at her husband? No. Did she smack a cop? No. Did she try and tear the eyes out of her husband's mistress? Absolutely not.

What Gloria did is something that almost any woman can imagine herself doing at times.

Gloria, age 43, was shopping at a Salvation Army store. A child in the store, little Sean Goode, 3 years old, was misbehaving terribly. Apparently, Sean's Mom was either ignorant of his behavior or not caring about fixing it.

Gloria asked the little guy to behave. When he didn't, she gave him a spanking. That settled him down, but it also brought on the rage of Sean's Mom and the cops.

I can just hear Mrs. Goode screaming at Gloria “I don't spank my child. What gives you the right to do that?" To be honest, Gloria didn't have the right to spank Sean. However, I'm sure she saw a need and tried to fill it. Being a 'substitute disciplinarian' is a thankless job.

Some parents think that spanking is very wrong. Others think that a well-placed smack on the rear can go a long way to fix an out-of-control child. The back and forth about this topic has been going on for years. Even the experts disagree.

I think I'll tell you my opinion right now. I think that spanking is a useful tool for parents. I will also say this violence is never a solution to a problem. So, if the spanking can be quick, non-abusive, and followed up with intelligent, loving discussion, it passes the test. If the spanking becomes hurtful as with a belt or switch and is administered in anger and with great strength and not followed by any constructive family talk then it is wrong.

In 1979, Dr. Ralph Welsh of Connecticut, a founding member of the National Center for the Study of Corporal Punishment, did a study that revealed a shocking fact: 100 percent (that means ALL of them) of violent inmates at San Quentin Penitentiary had suffered extreme physical punishment as children.

Dr. Welsh also discovered that 64 percent of adjudicated juvenile delinquents had suffered similar beatings, but that zero percent (none of them) of college freshman at UC Davis or Cal State had suffered that kind of treatment.

I hear a lot of this from parents “Johnny, I've told you to stop that and you didn't. Please go and sit in time out and think about what you just did." Or, “Johnny, please explain to me why you just did that. I want to try and understand." Or, Johnny, your privileges are taken away for a week because of your behavior." Each of these parental interventions is calculated to avoid a physical confrontation. Do they work? With some children, they do. With other kids, those tactics are just postponing the inevitable.

John Rosemond, one of America's most well respected family psychologists, has written about this topic in To Spank or Not to Spank. My favorite line from that book is “It is my personal and professional experience that children who are spanked by loving parents usually act appreciative of the fact that their parents brought them down to earth. My wife and I often remarked that a spanking not only accomplished the immediate goal stopping the misbehavior and securing the child's attention but also resulted in a rather sweeping and relatively long-lasting attitude adjustment."

Was I spanked as a child? You bet your boots I was. I knew my parents loved me and wanted the best for me. Any child who knows that he or she is loved will never resent being spanked.

But, Gloria Ballard, just spank your own kids, not Mrs. Goode's.

(IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH798@SC.RR.COM [1] OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.)