Opinion: Latest Spanking Study Will Have Zero Effect on Parents

Filed under: Opinions


When I read that a recent study found spanking makes children more aggressive, my first thought was maybe this will convince parents that spanking is a bad idea.

Then I woke up.

Whenever a study about spanking is released, I am surprised by the number of parents who say they spank on a regular basis. And not only do they believe it is effective, they don't think of it as abuse.

In case you haven't guessed, I don't spank my kids. Still, I believe strongly in considering other people's points of view; I try to keep an open mind and sometimes I even change my opinion. However, the reasons I've seen people give in support of spanking aren't very convincing. But I guess that's just me, because based on the comments left on this latest story, as well as those left on one from last year, I'm convinced that those who spank are going to keep doing what they do, no matter what anyone says.

Spanking defenders are careful to define what they feel is appropriate: heinie hitting, yes; anything that leaves a mark, no.

"Spanking on the bottom is not corp punishment...I'm now in my 60s and didn't turn out wrong," one commenter states. "Get real and go back to what really works."

Another reader writes, "I believe in spanking -- bottom only." Another adds, "Spanking doesn't cause bad behavior; bad behavior leads to spanking" and "Nobody said bruising is acceptable."

Back in October 2009, a study found spanking lowers a child's IQ. While a two to five point difference on an IQ test is less serious than a child who grows up to have aggressive tendencies, the defense of spanking from our readers was just as vigorous last year as it is now.

In a comment about last year's spanking-equals-lower IQ study, one reader brags about having an IQ of 168, despite being spanked "from about age 3 to about age 15."

Another writes: "There is a big difference between a disciplinary spanking and a beating," adding that "Perhaps if parents were not so afraid to spank children, there would be less smart-mouthed, budding criminals having babies before they graduate high school."

The problem with the "I was spanked and I'm fine" logic is that it works both ways. For example, I wasn't spanked, and I'm fine. A two-pack-a-day smoker who doesn't get lung cancer doesn't prove that smoking is good for you.

Actually, I was spanked once -- by someone else's mother. She regularly spanked her kids, and since I was in her house and had misbehaved, she decided I should get the same treatment. It was a long time ago, but all I can remember feeling is annoyed. Why is she doing this? Is this supposed to make me not do whatever it was that I did?

It was another punishment -- being forced to eat dinner in the bathroom -- that made me reconsider my behavior. I don't remember what kiddie crime had been committed, but here we are many years later, and I vividly recall cutting a piece of meat while resting my plate on the toilet.

So the Toilet Dinner worked. But have I tried it with my kids? Nah. I have bad memories of a bathroom smell mixed in with my potatoes. However, when it comes to spanking defenders, it seems the opposite is true. They didn't like being spanked, but they think it made them what they are today. Which is ... a parent who spanks.

So, to the spankers, I say this: Instead of dismissing all studies as suspect, why not consider other methods of discipline? No one is suggesting you change your parenting style based on one study, or even several studies. Just keep an open mind.

It takes a village to raise a child, but the villagers shouldn't be armed with pitchforks.

Related: Researcher Says a Little Spanking Is Good for Kids

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