Spanking is linked to serious child behavior problems (STOP IT)

From Psychcentral today:

spankTwo new studies show that providing parents with information that spanking can lead to short- and long-term child behavior problems may help to change parents’ opinion on this form of discipline.

Parents who spank their children often believe it’s an effective form of punishment. Research has found that parents who spank believe spanking can make children behave or respect them.

That belief drives parental behavior, more so than their level of anger, the seriousness of the child’s misbehavior or the parent’s perceived intent of the child’s misbehavior.

However, decades of research studies have found that spanking is linked to short- and long-term child behavior problems. (read the rest)

The above article about a study shows that educating parents can help stop the behavior. (read the rest)

See also: Renowned UNH researcher on corporal punishment makes definitive case against spanking in new book

The Primordial Violence‘ is culmination of 4 decades of research:

A new book by Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Lab and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, brings together more than four decades of research that makes the definitive case against spanking, including how it slows cognitive development and increases antisocial and criminal behavior.

The Primordial Violence” (Routledge, 2013) shows that the reasons parents hit those they love includes a lot more than just correcting misbehavior. It provides evidence on the effect spanking has on children, and what can be done to end it. The book features longitudinal data from more than 7,000 U.S. families as well as results from a 32-nation study and presents the latest research on the extent to which spanking is used in different cultures and the subsequent effects of its use on children and on society.

“Research shows that spanking corrects misbehavior. But it also shows that spanking does not work better than other modes of correction, such as time out, explaining, and depriving a child of privileges. Moreover, the research clearly shows that the gains from spanking come at a big cost. These include weakening the tie between children and parents and increasing the probability that the child will hit other children and their parents, and as adults, hit a dating or marital partner. Spanking also slows down mental development and lowers the probability of a child doing well in school,” Straus says.

“More than 100 studies have detailed these side effects of spanking, with more than 90 percent agreement among them. There is probably no other aspect of parenting and child behavior where the results are so consistent,” he says. (read more)

I’m sharing an excerpt from a new article from CNN about the harms of spanking and corporeal punishment on children. Below that I’ll share some additional links about the harms of such “discipline.”

no hittingHow to discipline the next generation is a hotly debated topic. In 2012, a national survey showed more than half of women and three-quarters of men in the United States believe a child sometimes needs a “good hard spanking.”

Science tells a different story. Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain — not only in an “I’m traumatized” kind of way but also in an “I literally have less gray matter in my brain” kind of way.

“Exposing children to HCP (harsh corporal punishment) may have detrimental effects on trajectories of brain development,” one 2009 study concluded.

Harsh corporal punishment in the study was defined as at least one spanking a month for more than three years, frequently done with objects such as a belt or paddle. Researchers found children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders, the study authors say.

The researchers also found “significant correlations” between the amount of gray matter in these brain regions and the children’s performance on an IQ test.

Several other studies support these findings. (read more)

Basically neuroplasticity works both ways. It can harm our brain, but it can also heal it and it’s never too late to heal. Neuroplasticity: enormous implications for anyone who has been labeled with a psychiatric illness

The shocking science about the long-term effects of corporal punishment, essential viewing for every parent!

And a related quote about child-rearing in general by John Holt:

The idea of painless, nonthreatening coercion is an illusion. Fear is the inseparable companion of coercion, and its inescapable consequence. If you think it your duty to make children do what you want, whether they will or not, then it follows inexorably that you must make them afraid of what will happen to them if they don’t do what you want. You can do this in the old-fashioned way, openly and avowedly, with the threat of harsh words, infringement of liberty, or physical punishment. Or you can do it in the modern way, subtly, smoothly, quietly, by withholding the acceptance and approval which you and others have trained the children to depend on; or by making them feel that some retribution awaits them in the future, too vague to imagine but too implacable to escape. (from How Children Fail)

We harm children in lots of ways we’ve not thought about. See: Letting babies “cry it out” — the first experience of abuse for many children

More about spanking from Beyond Meds:

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters