Spanking gets spanked in US study

A US study that looked at half a century of research has found that spanking was generally ineffective and counter productive in disciplining children,  and “both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.”

This will be looking at physical punishment rather than the occasional tap on the backside.

University of Texas: Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan.

The study, published in this month’s Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children. The researchers say it is the most complete analysis to date of the outcomes associated with spanking, and more specific to the effects of spanking alone than previous papers, which included other types of physical punishment in their analyses.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin. “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

Hitting kids teaches the kids that hitting is an acceptable way to deal with behaviour they don’t like. It’s not.

“The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” Grogan-Kaylor says.

Parents and ex-children will cite situations and childhoods where physical punishment has been effective, and in some cases it may have the desired immediate effect, but in general it has negative consequences.

Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems.

They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation.

This shouldn’t really be surprising. It has become socially unacceptable to hit partners and friends and people on the street or wherever, and the same should apply to children – in fact more so. A powerful adult hitting a vulnerable child just doesn’t look good, nor does it make sense.

Many of us grew up in an age where physical punishment at home and at school was normal (I got whacked a lot at school but not at home). We have had to learn better ways of disciplining – and there almost always are better ways.

The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies, including those using the strongest methodologies such as longitudinal or experimental designs. As many as 80 percent of parents around the world spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report. Gershoff notes that this persistence of spanking is in spite of the fact that there is no clear evidence of positive effects from spanking and ample evidence that it poses a risk of harm to children’s behavior and development.

Both spanking and physical abuse were associated with the same detrimental child outcomes in the same direction and nearly the same strength.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

That may alarm some people, especially those with some guilt about their own methods of disciplining, but we can and should all learn from our mistakes and our mistaken belief in the use of old fashioned violence.

Gershoff also noted that the study results are consistent with a report released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that called for “public engagement and education campaigns and legislative approaches to reduce corporal punishment,” including spanking, as a means of reducing physical child abuse. “We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline.”

All parents are imperfect and make mistakes and do things we may regret, especially under pressure. And there is a lot of relentless pressure on parents.

But we should learn to do better and to teach our kids (and grand kids) better ways of behaving, by example. We should now accept that spanking and smacking and whacking and other forms of physical punishment are outdated and inappropriate – and generally ineffective.

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44 Comments

  1. Corky

     /  14th March 2017

    ”We should now accept that spanking and smacking and whacking and other forms of physical punishment are outdated and inappropriate – and generally ineffective.”

    I don’t. Exhibit A- our schools. My cousin is retained by a school to ” deal with” problem children whom the school has no power to control. Of course he can’t hit the kids..but being a ex mobster with the requisite tats, language and swagger, the kids listen.

    I was with him yesterday, at school. ‘Bro’, he said.’ I don’t know how much longer I can do this job’. He showed me in confidence an outline of behavioural problems noted for 60 children out of a 280 school roll. And get this, decile 6. Teacher abuse, sexual inappropriateness, general violence ( 5 cases classed as sociopaths) and list of Ritalin medication schedules many children were on.

    When I was at school we never had these problems. Sure economic times and social mores have changed. But there’s always been troubled kids, poor kids and trouble making kids.

    What’s changed? No more corporal punishment. The kids now only have to listen to some middleclass droning twat talk to them about inappropriate behaviour.

    Hows society doing folks?

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  14th March 2017

      Didn’t you punch someone out for pushing in front of you at an ATM?

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  14th March 2017

        You hurt your back recently. I hope its better.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  14th March 2017

          It’s coming right thanks Corks. Just on my question above, if he threw the first punch, that’s ok, btw.

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  14th March 2017

            I’m glad your back is better.

            Reply
            • Blazer

               /  14th March 2017

              everyone applauded your bravery though,eh Corky?

            • Corky

               /  14th March 2017

              Behave your self…or I will take a two week break.

            • Gezza

               /  14th March 2017

              I’m giving it another day of rest, that should see it right Corks. Serves me right for forgetting that old dr dude’s advice on the telly “don’t use your back as a crane”. Tell you the truth I’m more annoyed about the Baldwin Street towel rail.

            • Corky

               /  14th March 2017

              Ok, that’s cool. Now back to the ATM incident, which is true. What was your point?

            • Gezza

               /  14th March 2017

              It’s the setting an example with violence thing I guess. I can’t remember the exact details. Like, did you say, “oi, back of the line bro, I was here before you” & then he swung at you, or was it was it just “damn check – king hit before he knew what was coming? If you can refresh my memory that’d be good.

            • Gezza

               /  14th March 2017

              * check = cheek. Soz Corks. Bit rushed, several tabs open seeing what Al’s up to elsewhere.

            • Corky

               /  14th March 2017

              Refresh your memory, I’m trying to refresh my own. He pushed me out of
              the way and I decked him. Said he was in a hurry. Or was that the telephone booth incident….it doesn’t matter, I used violence. Before you get the wrong end of the stick, I’m a non violent person.

    • B-Grade spin IMHO Corky … “economic times and social mores have changed” probably bears far more direct relationship to “there’s always been troubled kids, poor kids and trouble-making kids” than “no more corporal punishment” …

      Depending on what part of the country you’re in you might even argue that the effect of ‘mobster’ mentality on the social environment is responsible for many of the behavioural problems …

      And the cure for this is to give the children a ‘mobster’ role model … Right!?

      The expectation that Ritalin medication will fix or even ameliorate these systemic problems with school and society is frankly laughable. Licit drugs are just as likely to exacerbate the issues … and add a whole bunch of ‘side effect’ issues of their own …

      What you’re saying is “Violence or threat of violence is the best way of exercising social control” … which actually means: … the best way of maintaining the status-quo even while it fails our children …

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  14th March 2017

        ”And the cure for this is to give the children a ‘mobster’ role model … Right!?”

        You missed the point.. that being the school had no choice but to hire my cuzzie ( incidentally illegally) because they couldn’t control the kids. That is happening across the country Why Parti?

        ‘What you’re saying is “Violence or threat of violence is the best way of exercising social control”’

        Corporal punishment isn’t violence. It always followed three warnings to change your behaviour ( the liberal approach).

        Reply
        • Three warnings … You’re kidding me … RIght?

          I went to AGS Corky … “Notches on your belt” and all that stuff … Many of the ‘boys’ spent half their time provoking teachers into caning them …

          It didn’t affect our general success at learning – as defined by simplistic examinations – which means the ‘productivity and efficiency’ expectations of schools were 50% or below …

          More importantly there was absolutely no guidance whatsoever about human relationships, despite the ‘playground and classroom jungle’ being a miasma of human relationships …

          What’s happening is the model of ‘school’ we have maintained all these years is being shown up for the Dickensian Dinosaur it actually is …

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  14th March 2017

            Tell that to Wilie Jackson. AGS ( Auckland Grammar, I presume), according to him rounded his son out. Taught him to mix with other races and improved him overall. Maybe you’re judging education through the lens of your political ideology, Talking of that, no doubt AGS failed you apart from teaching you excellent grammar and command of the English language. Great gift, huh?

            ‘I went to AGS Corky … “Notches on your belt” and all that stuff … Many of the ‘boys’ spent half their time provoking teachers into caning them …’

            Lol

            Reply
            • Corky the “notches on your belt” part is absolutely true of the AGS I attended in the early 70s … I’ve no doubt they’ve ‘modernised’ since then though …

              I have to admit ‘in absurdity’ that I am judging it through the lens of my own experience … (something you purportedly never do?) …

              So you are NOT judging corporal punishment through your own political ideology … The conversation just becomes more-and-more ludicrous …

              Today’s ‘Tropic’ perhaps …? [#1 new meaning for existing word]

            • Tropic de jour …?

            • Corky

               /  14th March 2017

              ‘So you are NOT judging corporal punishment through your own political ideology … The conversation just becomes more-and-more ludicrous …’

              No, I’m not. Corporal punishment is a stand alone topic. Although it’s associated with conservatism. Duperez brought in politics. I just followed.

              ‘Corky the “notches on your belt” part is absolutely true of the AGS I attended in the early 70s … I’ve no doubt they’ve ‘modernised’ since then though …”

              What I was laughing at was you recounting how boys had to provoke teachers into caning. According to liberals Neanderthal teachers of yesteryear caned at the drop of a hat.

              At high school, a very rough high school, I can only remember the cane being used 9 times in the 5 years I was there. Of course some canings I wouldn’t have known about.

            • “Stand alone topic” …. Utter garbage!

              Like schools “stand alone” from society perhaps …

              Like society stands alone from politics …?

              Neanderthal teachers did cane students at the drop of a hat Corky … Neanderthal students!

    • duperez

       /  14th March 2017

      No doubt some of the kids listed will have minor behavioural problems. Some of the others listed could have behavioural problems impacting significantly on their ability to learn. They, with others who are fine behaviourally so not listed but have pronounced difficulties in learning, will likely be down the list on the National Standards achievements.
      Hows society doing folks? Good. It’s the teachers’ fault so we’ll set up charter schools.

      Seriously; No corporal punishment is a change but dismissing changes in society and changed social social mores and leaving the base cause as the lack corporal punishment is simplistic.

      I’ve been observing people (experts they might consider themselves), bringing up and training dogs. 99.9% of the training has positive rewards for desired behaviour. From the beginning, on-going. Consistent, on-going. Ways are found to work according to individual differences and vagaries.

      Some middle class droning twat talking to some nine year old, 13 or 15 year old about inappropriate behaviour expecting meaningful change probably hasn’t got time to reflect that he’s(she’s) eight, 12 or 14 years too late.

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  14th March 2017

        ‘Seriously; No corporal punishment is a change but dismissing changes in society and changed social social mores and leaving the base cause as the lack corporal punishment is simplistic.’

        No, you are making it complicated. Society bends over backwards to try and help kids . Unfortunately, as you hint, society and education need a good overhaul. But of course that wont happen because teacher unions wont allow it. Ditto liberal elements in society that keep us in a state of mush.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  14th March 2017

          is it the ‘I got strapped and caned…and I turned out…alright ..argument?

          Reply
        • Absolutely solving complex problems is more complicated. Absolutely there will be resistance, and not from teacher’s unions alone. Resistance to strongly signalled societal change is very widespread at present …

          But the simplistic use of force to effectively suppress change is barbaric …

          Shall we extend corporal punishment to adults Corky?

          Then you’ll be advocating a kind of Western, Judeo-Christian-Secular ‘Sharia Law’ …

          Reply
          • Corky

             /  14th March 2017

            ‘Shall we extend corporal punishment to adults Corky?”’

            Yes,for minor crimes, even major crimes with caveats. Give an offender a choice, jail or the rattan. I bet most offenders would choose the rattan until they felt the pain it inflicted. I bet they’d think twice before offending again.

            Great business opportunity for you, Parti. Screen printed T-shirts, with the caption. ” Rattan Surviver.”

            And think of the saving for taxpayers. Sometimes simple is best.

            Reply
            • Nope … Simple will always be simple …

              I’ve got a good line of T-Shirts already Corky …

              “An ethical world or I dissent” …

            • Corky

               /  14th March 2017

              Fair enough.

            • Incidentally … the experience of other societies with both corporal and capital punishment is they have bugger all deterent value …

              Plenty of people will just think, “Get my punishment over-and-done with quick” …

              To extend the deterent analogy, would men have gone on sailing ships if flogging had a deterent value …?

              End of Tropic for me … Signing off now … Leaving the bridge …

            • Gezza

               /  14th March 2017

              Czech Exit, PZ. Good man. 👍

            • Corky

               /  14th March 2017

              Crikey… I haven’t finished….ah, the science is settled.

        • duperez

           /  14th March 2017

          “society and education need a good overhaul. But of course that wont happen because teacher unions wont allow it”?

          Society has evolved. I suppose teachers are part of that. Saying that teachers won’t allow an overhaul of society is just silly. Kids arrive at school as product of their society, communities and families. Do you expect the kids arriving at their doors to be turned into some sort of beings which deny the existence they’ve come from? Social engineering?

          The sort of kids who arrive at school in 2017 are totally different than the ones who arrived in 1957, and ’67. There are some constants in human behaviour to do with reward and punishment and discipline, imposed and internal, which defy contexts. but dropping a 1940s, ’50s and ’60s corporal punishment regime into a 2017 context is daft.

          Reply
    • Blazer

       /  14th March 2017

      does your cousin help ‘manage’ your rental properties?

      Reply
      • Corky

         /  14th March 2017

        Only when they dont pay. Lucky your landlord believes in the Tenancy Tribunal. Just say you have issues and the tribunal will find in your favour, and give you 10 years to move out.

        Reply
  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  14th March 2017

    Spanking sounds better than hitting, but they are the same thing. Spanking sounds funny, but hitting doesn’t.

    If hitting children is effective, why would it have to be done more than once ?

    I find it abhorrent that some people think that it’s all right to use a level of violence towards a child that would be unacceptable if it was done to an adult. Most adults could retaliate more than a small child-or any child-could.

    Reply
    • Nelly Smickers

       /  14th March 2017

      Oh come on *Kitty* – please…you know nothing about it ❗ The number of spankings I got from Father O’Flaherty when I was a boarder at St Mary’s, were *very* effective.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  14th March 2017

        I am not talking about mutual sado-masochism, which is a sexual perversion, I am talking about the violence used towards children which may turn the abuser on, but causes pain and fear for the victim.

        It can, of course, be effective in that the victim stops the behaviour because they are dead, like little Moko and Nia.

        Reply
  3. Kitty Catkin

     /  14th March 2017

    Read accounts of some Victorian schools if you think that things have changed that much.

    Reply
  4. patupaiarehe

     /  14th March 2017

    Hmmm… I have a couple of thoughts to share on this.
    1. ‘Smacking’ is different to ‘hitting’. ‘Hitting’ (IMHO) involves striking someone with a clenched fist. ‘Smacking’, involves an open hand slapping a child’s backside. I would NEVER ‘hit’ my kids, but some of them have been smacked, after being warned several times, to stop what they are doing.
    2. Everyone is unique, & what works on some, doesn’t work on others. My second eldest has never been smacked, nor threatened with one. A frown from me, has always been enough to make him stop, & ask “What’s wrong Dad?”. I’d tell him, & he’d say something like, “Oh oops, sorry!”. Even when he was too young to talk, I’d give him ‘that look’, and he would stop what he was doing, smile guiltily, then crawl over & try to act cute 😀 His older brother, however, enjoyed ignoring me…And being an inexperienced young parent, I knew only one way to get his attention.
    3. The other day, I had to race to my youngest’s daycare at 5pm to collect him, after working since 6am, then pick his older sister up, and go to the supermarket on the way home, to buy something to cook for dinner, as Mum wasn’t finishing until 6pm. He acted up all the way around the shop, running up & down the aisles, laughing his arse off, with his big sister trying to calm him. We eventually got to the checkout, where ‘Mr 4’ spied a display stand of chocolate bunnies, & decided he wanted one. I said “Nope, you don’t deserve one, because you’ve been being naughty!”, and his sister had to restrain him, while I paid for the groceries.
    The whole way home, he was having a big fake ‘bellyhou’ in the back seat. And it carried on once we got home. “Wah wah waa!!! I want my chockky bunny!!!” Over & over & over again! I just ignored him, and got dinner started. But after around ten minutes of hearing the same sentence repeated, I ‘lost it’. “SHUT UP!!! YOU’RE NOT GETTING A F@#KING BUNNY!!! I’M TRYING TO COOK DINNER, PISS OFF!!!”. Silence……for five seconds. Then he runs off to his room. Then my eldest shows up, since he’s heard a ‘commotion’…
    “Well done Dad”
    “Oh please, don’t you fucking start! I’m cooking your dinner, you’re welcome!”.
    “Dad, look in the mirror, then look at him. You are more than twice his size. You shouldn’t yell at him, OK?”.
    I hate it when he is right….

    Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  14th March 2017

    @Patu…love your template for family life.Many are not in the position to take the time with their children/partner….the stress of mere survival,believe it or not…either prevents them or..destroys ..them ….we have a bountiful country,instead of selling it off to foreigners we need to look after ..all our..own.

    Reply
    • patupaiarehe

       /  14th March 2017

      I’d hardly call it a ‘template for family life’. My wife & I regularly contribute between 9 and 18 hours of labour to the economy, on any given weekday, & are fortunate enough to have an eldest child, who is responsible enough to be left in charge of his siblings.

      Reply
      • patupaiarehe

         /  15th March 2017

        The point I was trying to make above, is that smacking doesn’t work. The littlest person in a household is well aware, that everyone else could ‘kick his arse’ if they wanted to. While fear may achieve immediate compliance, at the same time it fosters resentment.
        After my eldest said what he said, I pondered for a minute or two while cooking, then went to ‘Mr 4’s’ room, to see what he was up to.
        “Hey there son, are you OK?”
        {ignores me, & keeps playing with his lego}
        “Oi! I asked you a question.”
        “I don’t like you right now, daddy”.
        “I’m sorry for yelling at you boy. Dad has had a really long day at work, and is very tired.”
        He stops what he’s doing, looks up at me with a big smile, then says…
        “So you’re going to get me a chokky bunny???”.
        I had to smile. Bloody kids 😀

        Reply

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