Can Spanking Lead to Aggressive Kids?
We know that 3-year-olds can be animals sometimes, but is it okay to use corporal punishment to stop bad behavior?
Despite mounting evidence of spanking's harmful effects, spanking is still widely practiced in the United States. Reuters cited a 2000 survey that found 61 percent of parents believed spanking was an acceptable form of punishment.
While opinions are divided, a new study found that spanking provides no advantages to a child’s development. Researchers at Columbia University found that children who get spanked as early as age 5 display more aggressive tendencies by the time they reach 9 years old.
For the study, the researchers examined 1,933 children aged either three or five asking their parents whether or not they practiced spanking and how often. 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers spank their children when they are 3 years old. At the age of five, those figures dropped slightly to 52 percent and 33 percent, respectively.
Children who were spanked by mothers at least twice a week displayed a two-point increase on a 70-point scale of problem behavior. The researchers also noted that children who were spanked by their fathers scored slightly lower than the national average in vocabulary around the age of nine.
The study observed that while spanking succeeds for parents in disciplining their children in the short term, it harms a kid's behavior in the long run.
"Spanking does make the kid stop," Dr. Michael MacKenzie, lead author of the present study, told Reuters. "It gives the immediate feedback that it's working. But the goal is to have kids regulate themselves over time. And in that, spanking fails."
On the flip side, proponents say spanking is safe and effective, and can be an appropriate tool for parents. Robert Larzelere, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University told the Los Angeles Times that spanking can be used when used correctly.
"In disciplining children, parents should do everything as kindly and gently as they can first. They should try to understand a child, make sure the child understands what is expected of them, use reasoning and find an adequate nonphysical consequence, like a 'timeout' or taking away privileges," he said. "But if the child won't cooperate, some kids — at least some of the time — need something more forceful to back it up."
Do you use spanking to discipline your kids?