Researcher Says a Little Spanking Is Good for Kids

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Can spanking make a child more successful? Credit: jupiterimages

To succeed in life, you have to start at the bottom. Marjorie Gunnoe means that literally.

She's a psychology professor at Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts school in Grand Rapids, Mich., who says spanking children is not a bad thing. In fact, she says, kids who get the occasional smack on the rump before the age of 6 grow up to be more successful adults.

Gunnoe interviewed 2,600 people about spanking before presenting her conclusions to the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). She claims children who got spanked as toddlers and preschoolers also are more likely to do volunteer work and attend college after high school.

"The claims that are made for not spanking children fail to hold up," she tells the London Daily Mail. "I think of spanking as a dangerous tool, but then there are times when there is a job big enough for a dangerous tool. You don't use it for all your jobs."

Gunnoe studied spanking for more than 10 years.

"This in no way should be thought of as a green light for spanking," she tells the Grand Rapids Press of her research. "This is a red light for people who want to legally limit how parents choose to discipline their children."

However, the SRCD issued a press release on Sept. 15, 2009, that takes a dimmer view of spanking than the one Gunnoe presented to the group.

The press release says researchers from Harvard, Duke and several other universities interviewed roughly the same number of people as Gunnoe, and concluded that spanking 1-year-olds "leads to more aggressive and less sophisticated cognitive development in the next two years."

Spanking is generally no longer in vogue, Gabe Griffin, of the group Pediatric Psychologists of West Michigan, tells the Grand Rapids Press.

The majority of adults were spanked when they were kids, he tells the paper, but now even grandparents think smacking kids on the rear is unacceptable.

"It can very easily cross over from a discipline in a calm, measured way to an out-of-control moment," he says. "Parents always think it's in a controlled manner, but clearly it's not. Obviously it's not going to harm every kid, but the potential is there and it isn't worth the risk."

Gunnoe insists she's not an advocate for spanking.

"I don't promote spanking, but there's not the evidence to outlaw it," she tells the Press.

Related: Spanking Lovers IQ, According to Study, Will Spanking Kids Provoke Sexual Problems?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.