Today’s issue of the *Arizona Republic* includes an article: “Spanking
can create defiant kids, report says.”
Here are some excerpts:
Corporal punishment is not a good way to improve a child’s behavior and
might even make things worse.
The ineffectiveness of spanking or swatting may come as a surprise to
American parents, most of whom use physical punishment to teach their
The findings are part of a new report that examined more than 100 years
of research and published studies on the physical punishment of children.
“The Report on Physical Punishment in the United States,” released this
week, is endorsed by the American Medical Association and the American
Academy of Pediatrics.
The study focuses not on child abuse but on spanking and other similar
punishments used by parents.
The study is not an attempt to suggest that parents should be more lax
with their children.
“One of the last things we want to convey is that children should not be
disciplined,” said Dr. David Notrica of Phoenix Children’s Hospital.
Gershoff’s study was a meta-analysis, meaning she statistically combined
the results of many different studies.
She knows, however, that many parents spank or hit their children
because the parents were hit when they were kids and turned out fine.
“(Children) learn from all the things around the spanking,” Gershoff
said. “They get how serious you are. You have their attention.
Sometimes, there is a talk after the spanking that really sinks in.”
The trick, she said, is to get the child’s attention without the spanking.
Gershoff referred to three recent studies – in Pediatrics, Southern
Medical Journal and Psychology, Public Policy, and Law – which showed
that nearly two-thirds of parents with children 1 to 2 years old
reported using physical punishment and that 80 percent of children have
been physically punished by the time they reach fifth grade.
“Unfortunately, the fact that it is a violent act teaches the child
about violence,” said Dr. Roberta Hibbard, a member of the American
Academy of Pediatrics’ Child Abuse and Neglect committee.
“The underlying message is that violence is OK. It’s not OK.”
In Gershoff’s reports, she says that when children were spanked, 85
percent of the studies showed there to be “less moral internalization of
norms for appropriate behavior and long-term compliance.”
There is evidence that Americans’ approval of physical punishment is on
“The Report on Physical Punishment in the United States” points to a
long-running survey by the General Social Survey, which is funded by the
National Science Foundation.
It found that, in the 1960s, 94 percent of adults favored physical punishment.
By 1986, 84 percent of U.S. adults agreed that children sometimes need a
“good hard spanking.”
In 2004, the percentage had dropped to 71.3 percent.
Gershoff knows it will not be easy to change how parents raise their
children. She knows most parents who spank are doing so because they
think it is best for the child.
“It’s easier to see in the research because we can see so many children
and over so much time,” Gershoff said.
“I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of studies. Overwhelmingly, they find
that spankings are associated with negative outcomes. There is no
research that says spanking is good for kids.”
The article is online at:
[courtesy of Ken Pope]