Why Does Everyone Pretend There’s A Spanking Debate?

Why Does Everyone Pretend There’s A Spanking Debate?


shutterstock_164266619Spanking was a subject of debate on every parenting website on the continent during the past week, and I don’t understand why.

Yes, I know why it was a topic of conversation — the prestigious journal Pediatrics released a study early in the week showing a possible link between childhood spanking and mental health struggles later in that child’s life, and that was news worth talking about.

What I don’t understand is why it was a debate. By definition, that would require two sides. I see only one.

At what point does something become simple fact? The Pediatrics article was just the latest in a decades-long march of studies showing spanking — defined as hitting with an open hand in order to correct or punish — to be ineffective at best and psychologically harmful at worst.

In April, an article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal analyzed two decades of data and concluded that spanking has no upside, and its downsides include increased risk for depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggressive behavior later in life.

A few years earlier, another Pediatrics study, this one by researchers at Tulane University, concluded that children who are spanked as often as twice a month at age 3 are twice as likely to become aggressive, destructive and mean when they are 5.

And it has been a decade since Columbia University psychologists went through more than 80 studies over 62 years and found that there was a “strong correlation” between parents who used “corporal punishment” and children who demonstrated 11 measurable childhood behaviors. Ten of the behaviors were negative, including such things as increased aggression and increased antisocial behavior. Only one could be considered positive — spanking did result in “immediate compliance.” READ MORE