Thursday, January 07, 2010

A spanking, anyone?

A study by Professor Marjorie Gunnoe from Michigan's Calvin College has caused considerable debate in Australia this week. According to the study, teens who were spanked until the age of six do better at school, are more optimistic about life, are more likely to take voluntary work, and aremore keen to attend than those who had never been spanked.

For the study, more than 2,600 people were asked how old they were when they were spanked and about the frequency with which they were spanked. Their responses were then correlated with information collected on behaviours that could possibly have been influenced by smacking.

The limitations of the study are clear enough. In addition, the findings fly in the face of many other studies which show detrimental effects of spanking. A press release from Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) states studies from a number of other universities in the U.S. including Harvard and Duke concluded that spanking 1-year-olds "leads to more aggressive and less sophisticated cognitive development in the next two years."

Professor Gunnoe states her study should not give carte blanche to spank but should generate greater consideration in those that would like to see spanking outlawed. Of course, there are all kind of issues around spanking: intensity, emotional control of the parent, location among many others. However, is it the spanking itself or is it the setting of boundaries. Are other ways of boundary setting as effective? The study doesn't evaluate this.

I was spanked as a child and adolescent but in a way that is now outlawed so my view is somewhat skewed. I don't think it had any positive effect for me. What's your experience? To spank or not to spank. What's your thoughts?


blogbehave said...

I've read in the child development and parenting literature that something like 90% of parents spank. But that spanking is completely ineffective. Those two assertions seem incongruent. How can so many parents be getting it all wrong and yet raising so many normally functioning kids?

I'm inclined to think that some types of spanking, in some situations, used prudently, with limits, within certain age ranges, and when used in conjunction with other types of discipline (i.e., positive reinforcement) can be beneficial. That spanking in and of itself, is not detrimental. This study you posted is the first I can recall reading (but I am not an expert in this field, by any stretch).

So I'd like to see more research looking at a balance of discipline techniques. With an emphasis on strategies other than spanking, but also, not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, in one broad stroke. (gosh, is there a blogging award for using multiple metaphors in one comment?)

Clueless said...

I am against spanking given many other research findings that it is not helpful.

My experience as a behavioral therapist is that any sort of physical action that hurts a child is detrimental. However, time out, reward systems...etc work. This can be modified for any age when they reach some understanding before that age let them be a child.

Anonymous said...

Spirit of the law or letter of the law?: The vast majority of professionals agree that child buttock-battering isn’t healthy. A marginal few (mostly religious fundamentalists as those at Calvin) think that child bottom-slapping is good. They use the same selective literalist interpretation of the Bible as was used to justify “witch”-burning, depraved torture methods for those accused of sin and heresy, slavery, racism, wife-beating, oppression of women and a host of other social ills.

Anonymous said...

People used to think it was necessary to "spank" adult members of the community, military trainees, and prisoners. In some countries they still do. In our country, it is considered sexual assault if a person over the age of 18 is "spanked", but only if over the age of 18.

For one thing, buttock-battering can vibrate the pudendal nerve, which can lead to sexual arousal. There are multitudinous other physiological ways in which it can be sexually abusive, but I won't list them all here. One can use the resources I've posted if they want to learn more.

Child buttock-battering vs. DISCIPLINE:

Child buttock-battering (euphemistically labeled "spanking","swatting","switching","smacking", "paddling",or other cute-sounding names) for the purpose of gaining compliance is nothing more than an inherited bad habit.

Its a good idea for people to take a look at what they are doing, and learn how to DISCIPLINE instead of hit.

I think the reason why television shows like "Supernanny" and "Dr. Phil" are so popular is because that is precisely what many (not all) people are trying to do.

There are several reasons why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea. Here are some good, quick reads recommended by professionals:

Plain Talk About Spanking
by Jordan Riak,

The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children
by Tom Johnson,

by Lesli Taylor M.D. and Adah Maurer Ph.D.

Most compelling of all reasons to abandon this worst of all bad habits is the fact that buttock-battering can be unintentional sexual abuse for some children. There is an abundance of educational resources, testimony, documentation, etc available on the subject that can easily be found by doing a little research with the recommended reads-visit

Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn't a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics,
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
American Psychological Association,
Center For Effective Discipline,
Churches' Network For Non-Violence,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Parenting In Jesus' Footsteps,
Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 26 countries, child corporal punishment is prohibited by law (with more in process). In fact, the US was the only UN member that did not ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Anonymous said...

I receive spankings almost every week at 12. They hurt cos I get them on bare bottom with a belt (usually 40 strokes). But they help me to behave and after the spanking while I kneel during cornertime we always discuss why I received the punishment. Then my parents hug me, give some final strokes and it is over.

Winstrol said...

This study has very strange results!