I have never and will never hit a woman. But if there's anyone who deserves it it is this New Jersey mother at the center of an appellate decision issued Thursday. She admits that when her child was 8, she beat her with first a phone cord, then upgraded to a belt when she felt the phone cord wasn't providing enough force.

The reason for the beating? A bad grade on a test. The result of the beating? Bruises left on the girl's legs, back, stomach, and butt. Fellow students noticed, and Child Protection got involved. This mother-of-the-year fully admits to having done it and told authorities she had used corporal punishment in the past as well. She stands by it. She says hitting a child with implements and leaving bruises is in no way child abuse.

Her child was removed from her home by the courts and sent to live with her father. Sadly the father had to move away and now the child is back with the mother. This week an appeals court upheld a lower judge's previous ruling that this most definitely was child abuse. The mother had to go through parenting skills training, a psych eval, and a safety protection plan. She was allowed pre-trial intervention to swipe clean her record. Yet she still argued that she did nothing wrong. Despicable.

An ever increasing body of evidence shows spanking and other forms of physical punishment of children poses serious risk to kids, leading to antisocial behavior, increased aggression, and mental health problems. Americans' acceptance of corporal punishment has steadily declined since the 1960's, yet many Americans still believe in spanking. The American Psychological Association and many other experts put spanking in the same category as more severe hitting. In short, spanking just as more injurious physical 'discipline' is ineffective and inappropriate.

Spanking is illegal in 42 countries. Here in the U.S., the American Academy of Pediatrics has strongly opposed spanking since 1998. Alan Kazdin, PhD, a Yale University psychology professor and director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic, says spanking does not work and needs to be abandoned. "We are not giving up an effective technique. We are saying this is a horrible thing that does not work."

Fortunately spanking and more extreme hitting is ever decreasing. A U.S. study shows that since 1988 the percentage of middle income mothers who believe in it went from 46 percent to 21 percent. Higher income parents spank and hit even less. Across all income levels, the percentage of mothers who say they would spank has dropped to 26 percent.

For those still doing it, you need to search yourselves. If you're having to spank the kid several times a year, it's clearly not working then, is it. Spanking and hitting is the lazy way out for parents who couldn't be bothered to put in the time to actually teach their children properly.

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