Spanking: New Study Says It Causes Aggressive Behavior in Kids

Posted April 21, 2010 by

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If you’re of a certain age, you were probably spanked as a child. It was the most powerful tool that every parent had at their very fingertips — the “big gun.” I was spanked as a kid, in fact, and so was my husband. I don’t think it taught me to behave better — it just taught me not to get caught, frankly. So when we had our son, we decided we wouldn’t do it, mostly because it seemed like spanking Alex would only teach him to resort to physical violence when he was upset or angry. Also, a lot of parents appear to spank out of anger — so we reasoned that they were just role modeling physical aggression to their kids. Our thinking was, “If we spank our child, won’t that make it easier for him to hit other kids?”

And in fact, a new study that came out this month from Tulane University said exactly that:  spanking kids makes them more aggressive in the long run. It went on to say that children who are spanked have lower IQs, and that frequent spanking may lead to anxiety and a higher risk of violent and/or criminal behavior, depression, and excessive alcohol use in later life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also strongly opposes striking children for any reason, and recommends giving kids timeouts, withholding privileges and using logical consequences to help improve kids’ behavior. 

My mom, who is 75 and from the generation that grew up going out to the wood shed to get a “switching,” thinks my husband and my stance on spanking is strange. “But how will you get him to listen to you,” she sputtered when I first told her our decision not to spank Alex. And I understand — all the moms and dads of her generation spanked their kids, and they were probably spanked even more frequently when they were kids themselves.

Even though there have been times I have wanted to spank my son (I won’t lie) I’ve so far been able to take a deep breath and think it through. The way I’ve always seen it is that there are more effective ways to discipline than spanking.  Even my mom is starting to come around now. “You don’t spank?!” has been replaced by: “I know you don’t spank…and maybe that’s a good thing.”

Where do you stand on spanking? Do you agree or disagree?


Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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  1. eagle1 (Edit) Report

    Like the others here said, each family has their own way of discipline. I myself spank my children for behaviors that my wife and I agreed not to tolerate ie. lying, stealing, and openly disrespecting other people. We have explained these to our children, that these behaviors will not be tolerated and will be punished. I’m not saying that this is the right way to do a spanking, but it has worked effectively for us. Our children still remain happy and sweet to us, behave like normal children do, playing all the time, but once they get warned that they are gonna get spanked, they fall in line, and once in a while, they test the boundaries, and they get spanked when we get home.

    To those people who have noticed that they developed anxiety and other mental conditions because of spanking, the way they described the spanking was very akin to abuse. they were done in anger, randomly, without cause, and without explanation.

    IMHO, if the child understands why he is being punished, be it by spanking or other ways, it will be effective in the long run. If he is not informed why he is being hurt, it will confuse him/her and cause undue fear and lead to mental conditions.

  2. Derrek (Edit) Report

    There are two reasons for discipline, and the rather academic discussions of spanking tend to ignore one of them altogether. People weigh what the long-term effectiveness and impact will be, which is all good and well, but one of the primary reasons for discipline within any organization, including the family, is to allow it to continue to function.

    Specifically, there are some things that must be prevented even if they are not optimal in the long-term. I must absolutely prevent little Tommy from running into the street, even if the only way I can do that is spanking. I am also obligated to prevent my children from hurting others in the family, whether intentionally or not. And I’ll even go so far as to say that being disruptive or destructive in an attempt to monopolize attention could cause damage to others in the family (throwing a tantrum at a sibling’s recital). And it’s not fair to that other sibling to have their progress impeded simply because my parenting techniques must remain long-term optimal.

    Discipline must be progressive in nature. It may start with a simple “no” but if your child is stubborn enough, you must be prepared to have your limits and ultimata tested. In the real world, consequences become increasingly severe to the point that folks are put in jail, and subjected to things there that we’d call abusive. It’s not uncommon. It’s 10% of the adult population.

    If I prevent that, even at the expense of sub-optimal parenting… I’m doing them a long-run service. And if I fail to teach them to stay out of that street as an adult to assuage my pacifist nature, I’ve done them a disservice.

  3. james (Edit) Report

    Who here can be specific about the difference between spanking and abuse?

    Open, flat hand or cupped hand?
    Speed of motion?
    Number of times?
    Force of spank (may need to get a formula from physics here).
    Where, specifically, should the hand end up on the child’s backside?

    Unless you can show actual guidelines that any parent could understand and follow, then the mere excuse that “Oh, I KNOW the difference between spanking and abuse” won’t cut it.

    We are captivated by our own good intentions, but we seldom pay attention to the EFFECTS of those “good intentions.” You have to show your child love and respect in such a way as to be received as love and respect. Otherwise, communication is not happening….

  4. Spank-Free Mom (Edit) Report

    An interesting observation: In our play group, I’ve seen two moms spank their kids (who were under 3 yrs old at the time) for minor, typical toddler behaviors. The two kids who get spanked are the most aggressive kids in our group. They hit, push, take toys from other kids, and don’t listen to or have any respect for adults.
    We have never hit our child. We use lots of other types of discipline: incentives to do the right thing, time outs, and loss of privileges. He is well-behaved, pleasant, has good social skills around his peers and obeys well for his age. Sadly, the aggressive kids are always ruining it for the rest of our group by having constant episodes of bad behavior and upsetting or hurting the other children. I firmly believe that spanking is not effective and simply encourages physical aggression and disrespect. When you treat your child with love and respect, they become kind and respectful people. When you hit them, scream at them, and make them fear you they don’t learn respect, kindness or good social skills.

  5. Jessie T (Edit) Report

    🙂 Well, I like this topic. It’s interesting to see how many different oppinions there are. I have to agree with Philip and especially Radiogal. I’m not saying that time-outs and little family discussions are the wrong way to go. If that seems to work for your kids, who’m I to judge it. By all means, do what works for your family, and there’s no right answer when it comes to punishment. It’s all about what works, and what doesn’t.

    A point that was brought up from people who don’t believe in spanking was that it only triggers fear. That way the kid obeys the parent out of fear and not respect. This is true only if you do it in an angry, fear-triggering way. If you get pissed and suddenly bend your kid over and swat repeatedly. That’s uncalled for, and it’s like your child is an outlet. There is, in fact, a right way to spank. If you give your kid a chance to be good, like a warning or something similar, it’s fair game. When my youngins mouthed off when they were real little, I’d say, very calmly, “Ok Hun, you just said this to me. Change the way you talk to me now, or you’re gonna get a spankin.” That would usually be followed by a pause, and then they’d rephrase themselves in a more respectful way. My daughter, who inherritted my fight and gets out of line very easily, would sometimes test me. But the more I proved to her I wasn’t joking,the less frequent the spankings were. If you make sure that you’re not spanking for the most minor issues, or for the hell of it, and actually making your child see that the spankings don’t happen as often when they’re good, it does teach very affectively. When I was growing up, my parents hit me, and I think above anything else, I learned that unpleasant things happen to you when you don’t do the right thing. That’s a life lesson that I learned real young. Now if my parents would’ve just smacked me with no warning and thrown me in my room without uttering another word about it, I might have turned out a pretty anxious, violent person.

    And as far as fear, well, yes, spanking is going to trigger fear. If you hope to have even the slightest affect on your kid, the punishment will have to trigger some fear. Spanking is pain. Taking away things is the fear of not having that toy to play with. And time-outs is being alone and ignored until they calm down, which of course kids don’t like. One form of punishment I’ve never understood is little family discussions and talks. In my oppinion, those should happen after the punishment. Like when my kids are acting up, I spank them or take something away, or make them take on extra chores around this 15-acre farm land, and then after words I explain why, and explain what’ll happen if they do that again. And yes, after that talk where me and my kid get to vent about it, everything get’s the littlest bit better. So I would say spanking isn’t wrong, and it’s not cruel unless it’s done the wrong way. But we all got our views I guess.

  6. TealRose (Edit) Report

    susanengel … I so agree with you !! I was spanked as a child … and with the first smack … my heart died .. and froze over. I was spanked for trivia – I never DID the big stuff and even if I had I could never understand someone, my parent especially, spanking/hitting/hurting me ! It made NO sense as they taught me not to hit! They spanked hard as they believed it had to have an ‘effect’ and it did – I hated them, I feared them and life, and I am left with rejection and other terrible feelings at the grand age of 56! I couldn’t understand that if you apologised – which I did – that wasn’t the end of the matter!! And I STILL feel that way.

    Spanking a child only infuriates it .. and makes it fearful for the rest of it’s life. There are FAR better ways to help TEACH a child than the lazy and humiliating, dangerous way of spanking.

    Next time you think you are going to spank your child – get your husband/wife to hit you in the same way first. Hand, cane, paddle, or switch etc … and see how YOU feel about being thrashed … see if YOUR head is in the right place during and afterwards to even contemplate your ‘misdoing’ !!!!

  7. Father of Five (Edit) Report

    These studies pop up every now and then, but they often forget history. I graduated in 1992, and as bad as it was then, I never remember hearing about the amount of violence we have seen in recent years… The truth is as a society we had a whole lot less documented violence even as little as thirty years ago… Being an Oregon resident I know the Kinkle family never spanked Kip, same thing with the Eric Harris, and Dylon Klebold families, they all frowned on that form of discipline. All those families came from a more educated approach, with modern day uses. Ironically two of those three families were extremely anti gun as well, I am amazed at how much violence has been centered around our education system. I don’t think there is anyone out there that would try and make the argument that we are more civil today, if so they have chose to ignore history.
    I have watched metal detectors get installed, and security gaurds get replaced with police K-9 units at our local high schools, I have five children and my oldest is sixteen, he has been spanked his whole life, he has never been in trouble, he is graduating a year early (at least at this point), and he has never been in a fight (that I know of). The spanking thing has worked great for all my kids! Looking at our society today, I got to think maybe grandma and grandpa had something right…

  8. Diamond (Edit) Report

    When I raised my three sons, spanking at an early age was part of their discipline. I always kept one of those little paddles with the string and ball attached in the kitchen drawer (with the string and ball removed). If the boys were difiant or totally disrepectful, I would walk to the kitchen and get the paddle out of the drawer, which always gave me time to make sure I was not acting out of anger or frustration. I never spanked the boys while they were standing up, as they could have jumped or wiggled and I only wanted to paddle them on the fatest part of their bottom (what my grandmother used to call the seat of learning). The very act of sitting down and making my sons lean over my lap so I didn’t miss their bottom, in itself usually stopped the defiant behavior or temper tantrum. See making them bend over your lap puts them in the position of submission itself, hardly ever did I have to apply more than one swat on their bottoms to get the point across. Much like a mother dog will put her paw on a puppy and hold it down to assert her authority, bending a child over your knees does the same thing, asserts your authority. This type of discipline, in my opinion, should only be used from about 2-6 years of age and should be used only with great care to establish who is in charge between the parent and the child.

    With my youngest son, corporal punishment (spanking) had no affect at all. His temperment was the type that I could have beat him senseless and he would not have bent to my authority. With him, time out in isolation was the only thing that got through to him. As long as he was getting attention (negative or positive) he would continue his defiance or bad behavior; however, if I made him go sit on the bathroom floor by himself and told him he could not come out until he changed his attitude or behavior, he quickly figured out that I was not going to ‘play by his rules’ and give him added attention.

    On the other hand, I can specifically remember an insident with my middle son when he was in the first grade. This particular week he decided he did not want to wear the jeans we had purchased at the beginning of the school year. For two mornings in a row we argued about which jeans he would wear to school. The third morning this started, I told him if he did not put on his jeans and behave himself that he was going to get a spanking. Well, of course if you tell them you are going to do something … you had better be prepared for them to call you on it. So he started acting up and I spanked his bottom, gave him his jeans and he got dressed for school, leaving the house still in tears. All day that day I worried about him. Had I ruined his day by starting him off with a spanking, how long had he cried, etc. When he came home from school he was happy and smiling and we never had a problem with school clothes again. It was almost as if he was lost and did not know where the boundary line was or how to deal with it. By setting that definite limit it took the responsibility off of him and put it back on my shoulders where it belonged.

    Those who would spank out of anger or frustration should never use corporal punishment on their children as it is too easy for spanking to make a point can become a reaction not a resolution of authority. I guess my point is, each child is different, each parent is different and we have to search our hearts, keep ourselves educated and ‘respond’ to what is unacceptable behavior instead of reacting to unacceptable behavior.

    Thanks for the opportunity to offer my two cents 🙂

  9. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    Wow — Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this post and weigh in on this topic. I think the spanking question is a tough one, and definitely something that is handled differently in every family. I truly appreciate all your feedback. I also have to say that I’ve learned a lot from all of you. I haven’t changed my mind about how we will raise our son, but it does show me a perspective from parents who choose to spank. Thank you! 🙂

  10. Susan Engel (Edit) Report

    P.S. I must add that I DO respect other parents’ decisions as to how to discipline their child.

    My father spanked us girls when he was extremely mad. Some other folks here are able to spank without that factor, which amazes and awes me, and earns my respect.

    I guess my frothy diatribe above just reflects MY specific experience with it. I might feel differently about it if I’d had a dad like, say, Philip (above). 😉

  11. Susan Engel (Edit) Report

    My parents are both 76 years-old and my father (one of 6 boys!!) grew up with spanking as an accepted method of parenting. My mother, interestingly enough (an only child), did not. At least, none that she’ll admit to. 😉

    My sister and I were spanked several times in our lives. Fortunately, it was only several as my mother was vehemently against violence on any level (this from a woman who later LOVED “Miami Vice” because “they show blood!” haha). I was slapped across the face once. All of the above were administered by my father. Did I think it “taught me a lesson”? Yes — like you, Elisabeth, it taught me not to get caught next time. 🙂 Other than that, it taught me to fear my dad and, because I was “sent to my room” whenever I cried, it taught me to stifle my feelings. And while I’ve managed to have an IQ a bit above my shoe size and am not an overtly aggressive individual, I will admit to having developed some anxiety issues and … umm … other not-too-effective coping mechanisms. (blush) The primary one is passive-aggressive behavior — another legacy from my parents, alas.

    So, I can’t say that I’m surprised that kids who are spanked tend to become more physically aggressive in the long run. I have ALWAYS felt that ANY behavior that is modeled in front of our kids (by parents/guardians) essentially teaches the kids that that behavior is acceptable. Spanking basically gives the “I’m bigger and stronger than you and it’s okay for me to hit you when I’m mad.” Certainly a message that might engender future (similar) aggressive behavior in the older child or adult, and most certainly NOT the message that I want to send my kids. I’ve never liked the “I’m bigger and badder than you so it’s okay for me to verbally or physically abuse you because I’m angry and I can.” (hair standin on end) That message REALLY irks me. It’s the most pathetic excuse for taking “the easy way out” and rationalizing ineffective (at best) and potentially deadly (at worst) behavior.

    THAT being said, like you, I won’t say that I have not CONTEMPLATED it once in a while when one or both of my sons were in RARE form and my coping strategies and physical/emotional reserves were at an all-time low. However, I did not DO it. There’s a big difference between thinking about something vs. actually following through with it.

    While I am definitely NOT the poster child for great parenting, nor mental health for that matter (ha!), I still cannot condone physical violence, no matter what name it’s given. If the kid is that out of control, then send them to a military academy.

    Okay (stepping down), I’ll get off of my soapbox now. 😉

    Once again, Elisabeth — you’ve struck a hot topic and inspired great feedback! Great job. 🙂

  12. Philip (Edit) Report

    Wow, this seems to be a really hot topic. I decided to expand my original comment above and posted it at EzineArticles. It can be found below:—Does-It-Really-Cause-Harm?&id=4160805

    I also put a detailed example in the article to help demonstrated the bullet-ed definition of what I consider spanking. I will also repeat what I mentioned in my original post. I have no problem with parent how chose to not spank. That is perfectly fine. I don’t think it is fair to condemn those that do spank though. When done correctly I expect all of these studies would be proven false.

  13. Jeanne H. Velarde (Edit) Report

    Respectfully we all differ in our opinions whether or not to spank… but James Lehman has the best advice out there today and his system works. Some say if you spank, then after 10 it is not effective. Taking away what they love most is best, but one must understand development and age appropriate time lenghts and so on… inside the mind of a child and teenager must be studied.

  14. Jamie (Edit) Report

    Even tho I am from the generation where spanking was the only option, I do not think spanking is always the correct option. In cases of open defiance and continued disobedience a spanking is in order. For example, I have two grandsons that are totally out of control. When I keep them they are more behaved then with their parents. With both boys there came a time when I had to define the boundaries with a spanking. It was around age 9 with both boys. It has been the only time I ever spanked them and that was all it took. They know I love them and what behavior I will not tolerate.
    There comes a time with most children when they are going to challenge the boundaries. It is important to get their attention and make sure they know what is considered “over the line”. I know it worked because the attitude changed immediately, there was no grudge held by the child and the behavior has been more compliant ever since. I never believed it but now I know the meaning of the saying, “this is going to hurt me more than it does you.”

  15. Kimberly (Edit) Report

    I am a 35 year old mother of 3 teenagers. I have really great kids and am truly blessed. I spanked my children when they were young and would not change a thing about the way I have disciplined them. I was spanked as a child and did not grow up afraid of my mother. We are talking about spanking here, not abuse. God gave these precious children to me and entrusted me with their care and I resent any person trying to tell me that I do not have the authority to discipline my children with spanking. If there is any person who wonders why our society is crumbling, the moral decay of families in America, a big part of it is due in large part to parents who either don’t spank their kids or are afraid to. Spanking is an important tool to use for toddlers and younger kids (not adolescents or teenagers). The goal is not to harm but to teach them. The next time you are at the local department or grocery store and get stuck in line behind a parent with a small child who is kicking and screaming over being told “no” to the candy or toy that they want, that is a future troubled child in one way or another, whether it is disrespecting their parents and teachers or getting arrested as an adult. When my kids tried that approach to get their way they received a swat on their butt and quickly understood that they were not going to get their way by throwing a fit in a store. I respect your choice, as a parent, if you don’t want to spank. That is your business. Respect those parents that do choose to spank.

  16. Heather E. Sedlock (Edit) Report

    I was once like Philip, reasonably spanking children was/is just fine!

    Philip, I discovered something… “reasonably” spanking a child just doesn’t make sense for me. I respect your decision but once I had children and began applying this philosophy, my son became more aggressive and tried hitting others. When talked to about that particular behavior, my son said “But they did wrong! I was just doing it so they’d learn their lesson and not do it again.” Sound familiar?

    Violence is violence is violence.

    But, it’s a parent’s choice and each child is different, too. Some respond to it; some don’t. There are also studies out there that speak about all kinds of issues with spanking, including the fact that where one spanks, during the age a child is spanked most often, can lead to sexual deviance. Not sure about that one, but the science seems to support a generality of it.

    I think every parent should think about it. Read the science out there and decide for themselves.

  17. ROGER (Edit) Report

    Reports such as this most current one have a major flaw in them. They are dishonest and are skewed for a desired outcome. What is not mentioned in the publicized version of the report is that “spanking” in this report INCLUDES more severe abuse such as beating. They lump all types of hitting into one category and call it spanking. It is not surprising to me that when this is done, the resulting outcome of the study shows that spanking leads to more aggressive behavior in kids. I think we can all agree that beating a child will lead them to eventual agression. What is unfortunate is that so many people take these studies for their face value and are not willing to explore all the facts.

    Spanking can be very effective when used as a known consequence to a wrong action. Here’s an example of using spanking “correctly”. Johnny (or Jenny) has taken a candy bar from the checkout display at the store and insists on leaving with it. The parent tells them if they do not put the candy back, they will get spanked when they get out to the car. This reminder is not yelled at the child but is delivered calmly and firmly. child reaction #1 – candy is put back…success! child reaction #2 – child persists and disobeys…when they get to the car, parent reminds them of the warning, tells them they will need to suffer the consequences, and spanks them. As other commentors have suggested, this is done quickly and only to the bottom with an open hand, but firmly enough for the child to feel pain that will be remembered. When done, the child is reminded of why the spanking was necessary, the parent tells the child that they love them and that they hope spankings are not needed in the future, and they go on with their day. This has shown to be effective for most children after a period of consistant application.
    Obviously this is just one scenario of thousands possible and spanking does not work in all cases.

    As MA points out, there will always be disagreement on spanking or no spanking, and this blog is another example of good arguments for both sides, but please, let’s not accept these studies as the truth until we understand what data was collected and how it was presented.

  18. MA (Edit) Report

    I do not agree with the “right” way to spank.
    As one commented earlier if you break the laws, taxes, speeding etc…you do have consequences and you could go to jail depending but you are not subject to a beating. So no it is not the same. The principle still applies, consequneces for our actions. The fact is there will be those who agree on spanking and those who don’t, just like anything. We can simply agree to disagree and I can honestly say that showing your child love after discipline could be applied and has it’s merits in any setting not just spanking but it does not justify hitting your child for me, simply becuase you qualify it, under certain circumstances and with explanation and then love.
    Still not something I support

  19. Radiogal (Edit) Report

    You know, I have read through all these comments and want to just add a couple of things. I am a 62 year old grandmother. I raised 3 children, twin boys and a daughter. My children were all spanked. I also was a teacher in an era where the principal spanked kids with a paddle, one or two hits. This is a very definite consequence where kids know when it starts and when it’s over. It’s not a head game. Kids learn to manipulate no matter what the punishment. It was a deterrent to bad behavior, kids don’t like it and behavior changes. Quick directed punishment is much better than tireless discussions about behavior, names on the board, detention and time out are just a joke when used too often. When kids are little they are like puppies, they need to be trained by not reinforcing bad behavior, and insisting that the child submits to direction. Little whacks sometimes break the tension with a hysterical child used to throwing fits because mommy is trying to reason with them. Letting a child scream in hysteria in time out isn’t the answer either. My sons would settle down in time out and my daughter would go ballistic. Each child is different. the younger you can get them to submit, when they start to need “guidance” the better. I think parents start way too late to get kids in line.

  20. Jeanne H. Velarde (Edit) Report

    Spanking controlled or out of control is a form of abuse. I firmly believe people are not to be hit regardless.
    It is the same thing as saying don’t smoke,drink etc.. but I can… We all know children learn by observation .. Parents are the childs first and strongest role models. Consequences that teach children appropriate life skills is the best alternative in helping your child to deal with real life situations and an understanding/acceptance of their feelings. It is okay to be mad, upset,but.. here are some things you can do when you feel this way.. Teach them to stand up for themselves in ways that are appropriate…and learn to walk off to put out the fire. We are their teachers. The frontal lobe ( which is our emotions, judgement/thought is not fully developed until age 23!! They are not young walking ,talking adults.. they are simply in the learning process and the brain must be taught errorlessly how to function/respond to people and situations in their daily life.

  21. Jenny (Edit) Report

    I appreciate Steve and Philip, especially the way in which they commented. I have heard the argument about a proper way to spank and I totally agree that the way these gentlemen describe it makes much more sense than spanking out of anger or frustration.

    With that said, it is a personal preference and we chose not to spank. Instead, we used time outs and the taking away of privileges. In either case, the most important thing is to remain calm and in control of yourself as the adult in the relationship. Kids are looking to you for guidance and leadership.

    I do wonder though, for parents who spank – even in this manner – when is your child too old and how do you transition to other forms of discipline once they are?

  22. Dr. Joan (Edit) Report

    I feel that every family has their own way of doing things, but not spanking was a choice my husband and I made for our 3 kids when they were little. The main reason why was this: almost every grown up I speak to who was spanked as a child was told that the reason for spanking was so they would learn to respect, honor, or listen to their parents. But I think that most kids obeyed their parents out of fear, not out of respect or honor. Personally, I want my kids to listen to me and honor me because that is an appropriate way for a child to relate to their parent, not because they are afraid of me. Kids will learn all kinds of ways to hide things from their parents if they are afraid of being spanked.

    My kids are not always the most well behaved. They fight, can be sassy, and have, on occasion, lied. But they also know that there are serious consequences for all these indiscretions and that seems to be enough to keep them mostly in line. The most important reason, though, that I am glad we chose not to spank is that my oldest, who just turned 13 and is in full swing puberty, is working really hard to keep his temper in check around his younger brother. He is twice as big as his 10 1/2 year old brother (literally, he is 150 lbs. vs. 64 lbs.) and could do serious harm if he hit him. I simply cannot imagine that I could seriously say to him with a straight face that hitting is not acceptable if I had spanked him as a child. Kids imitate what they learn from their parents and I am keeping my fingers crossed that us not hitting him will translate into him not hitting others. We’ll see…

  23. Steve (Edit) Report

    I’m must say I agree with Philip on this one. I think a big problem when analyzing this type of data is separating legitimate spanking from abuse (my definition of legitimate is a) never in anger, b) only on the hand or bum c) never hard enough to leave a bruise or scar).

    At a philosophical level *all* authority ultimately rest on physical constraint. So as an example, if you don’t pay a your taxes, an continue to refuse to cooperate you will be physically compelled to (i.e. the money will be taken), and you will be physically constrained (i.e. go to jail). The child must learn this lesson. As I see it there are two options a) a spank or b) physical separation (e.g. time out). With (b) you have the added dimension of mental and emotional separation which I personally think is harmful to a child’s mental and emotional development. Of course with option (a) the parent can comfort the child as soon as the incident is dealt with – IMO a much better outcome. I do think option (b) works, it’s just slower, has more (emotional) risks attached and is more painful for the child and parent.

    Anyway that’s my 0.02c – I’m not saying I have all of the answers and I’m sure there will be many who disagree with me.


  24. Francine (Edit) Report

    It is something I am rethinking. Our four children are grown now but what I found was it caused so much more stress because a Mother is trying to spank the right way as there is so many opinions out there and I just wonder if there is not a better solution. We did spank , sometimes in anger or frustration and not very often did we spank.
    I am a Christian and want to study the scriptures more to see exactly what directions are given in the New Testament. I guess most of us just did it because we thought we were suppose too. I do not believe in raising wimpy kids that get away with everything. There has to be consequences to actions. I have been directed to a book called
    Heartfelt Discipline by Clay Clarkson.. I have not read it yet but just bought it used on line.
    Gentleness can go along way. I found spanking my youngest daughter really seem to put a wall between us. I know someone may comment and say but that is because you did not do it right but it does not seem right to teach them to hit. Then another day you are teaching them to not hit their sibling and it just does not add up. I think spanking is just not consistent with the other things we have taught them.

  25. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    Philip: Thank you for weighing in. I appreciate hearing your side of the story. This is something we decided against when we had our child, and it’s really been a good decision for our family. Thanks, Philip.

  26. Philip (Edit) Report

    We will have to disagree on this one. I realize these studies come out every few years. They all have a fundamental flaw though. I have yet to see one that looks at the mechanics of spanking. This one states that they questioned mother as to if they spanked or not. That is fine, but there is a correct way to spank and a incorrect way to spank. When done properly, for the right reasons, and consistently it is a reasonable form of discipline.

    The problem is that parents tend to use it as a quick fix spanking a child unexpectedly. Some spank while angry or upset and the child sees it as a reasonable form to vent anger. Other simply use a severe discipline for minor offenses or inconsistently for the same offense. These will all give the child the wrong impression or confuse them.

    We aren’t perfect parents (obviously) but we do try and we do spank. We only spank for direct defiance and disobedience and we always spank for this. We never spank when upset or angry. We never spank without first talking with our child and explaining why and what they could have done different. We never spank without immediately holding and hugging our child and reaffirming their worth and our love. Have we seen in increase in any of the areas listed in the study? Why no, no we haven’t. Quite the opposite actually.

    I won’t argue that you should spank if you choose not to, but I will argue that there are other factors that are playing a role in these studies and that the don’t show the full story. Anyway, that is just my $0.02.



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