Should you be spanking your kids?

Should you be spanking your kids?

Corporal punishment – described as use of physical force to punish a child – is a divisive issue in the parenting world, with some parents squarely swearing by or against it. But what do the experts have to say about it?

According to research recently published in BMJ Open, corporal punishment may do more harm than good.

For the study, researchers looked at the lives of more than 400,000 young people in 88 countries with varying degrees of legislation banning the use of corporal punishment in schools and homes. They also compared rates of adolescent violence. Their analysis showed the following key findings:

  • Boys in the 30 countries with full bans against corporal punishment (in schools and at home) experienced 69 percent of the fighting that boys experienced in the 20 countries with no bans.
  • Girls in the 30 countries with full bans against corporal punishment (in schools and at home) experienced 42 percent of the fighting that girls experienced in the 20 countries with no bans.
  • In a comparison of rates of fighting between the 38 countries with partial bans (in schools but not at home) and the 20 countries with no bans in place, there was no difference among boys, though girls in countries with partial bans experienced 56 percent of the fighting that girls experienced in countries without a ban.

This study supports growing evidence that corporal punishment doesn’t actually improve a child’s behavior. In fact, both the American Psychology Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) have opposed the use of corporal punishment in private and public institutions where children are care for or educated. In fact, a few months ago, the AAP released a policy statement recommending pediatricians advise parents against spanking their children and to avoid nonphysical punishment that is “humiliating, scary or threatening”.

“Research has shown corporal punishment is not an effective behavioral management technique,” says Dr. Melissa Hernandez, lead clinical psychologist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “Although parents may mean well when they spank their children, the problem behavior is often left unchanged. Instead, the parent-child relationship experiences an escalation of anger, frustration and aggression. Children may also learn that they are ‘bad’, which can impact their self-esteem.”

Dr. Hernandez adds other tactics can be taken to reinforce positive behaviors or discourage bad ones, including:

  • Use of clear expectations
  • Positive reinforcement, including praise, rewards and compliments
  • Non-violent discipline techniques, including time-out and temporary removal of special privileges

“Children are actively learning to identify and communicate their thoughts and feelings. Oftentimes, they may not have the tools to express their needs,” Dr. Hernandez says. “When a child is upset, parents should check in to see what they need and provide support.”

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  1. believe in spanking with one hit. But used as the last resort/ 1-stand in corner timer on 10 minutes. 2- sit on small stool for 15 minutes. 3- take away cell phone for 2 weeks. 4- write an essay about obedience or something. If all this doesn’t cure bad behavior, then show the child, teen the BELT. give child, teen an option.

  2. Children nowadays do not seem to be disciplined at all. I agree with Mary.

  3. I’m not a parent, but through the years many times I have heard people advocating for spanking or some type of physical punishment. I’ve always felt these people were misguided or uninformed, but of course the main factor is probably that they were struck by one or both parents, and for emotional reasons cannot call out the behavior as being wrong or harmful.
    I always thought striking a child is one of many factors that can perpetuate violence. Most of us are able to say, it’s wrong for adults to strike each other. Seems to me, a majority of adults can justify striking a child in order to punish and discipline.
    That ain’t right, people.

  4. I don’t believe that sparing the rod helps but rather spoils them.

About the Author

Jaimie Oh
Jaimie Oh

Jaimie Oh, health enews contributor, is regional manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Health Care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has nearly a decade of experience working in publishing, strategic communications and marketing. Outside of work, Jaimie trains for marathons with the goal of running 50 races before she turns 50 years old.