Spanking — usually defined as hitting a child on the buttocks with an open hand — is a common form of discipline still used on children worldwide. However, to date, spanking has been banned in 53 countries and states globally.This is another example where the supposed scientific consensus is wacky.
The use of spanking has been hotly debated over the last several decades. Supporters state that it is safe, necessary and effective; opponents argue that spanking is harmful to children and violates their human rights to protection.
As two scholars with extensive research experience and clinical insight in the field of child maltreatment, and with specific expertise related to spanking, we would like to move beyond this debate.
The research clearly shows that spanking is related to an increased likelihood of many poor health, social and developmental outcomes. These poor outcomes include mental health problems, substance use, suicide attempts and physical health conditions along with developmental, behavioural, social and cognitive problems.
Equally important, there are no research studies showing that spanking is beneficial for children.
Those who say spanking is safe for a child if done in a specific way are, it would seem, simply expressing opinions. And these opinions are not supported by scientific evidence. ...
An updated meta-analysis was most recently published in 2016. This reviewed and analysed 75 studies from the previous 13 years, concluding that there was no evidence that spanking improved child behaviour and that spanking was associated with an increased risk of 13 detrimental outcomes. ...
Evidence from over 20 years of research consistently indicates the harms of spanking. There is also increasing global recognition of the rights of children to protection and dignity, as inscribed in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in targets within the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to eliminate violence.
Taken together, these tell us that spanking should never be used on children or adolescents of any age.
Perusing these articles, I find:
The anti-spanking studies are just correlations, and cannot distinguish between spanking causing bad behavior and bad behavior causing spanking.
The papers are written by zealots who mainly oppose spanking for ideological reasons.
The studies fail to show that any other method of discipline works better.
Saying that spanking does not cure bad behavior is a bit like saying that dieting does not cure obesity. Yes, studies show that most diets fail, and most attempts at behavior modification also fail.
It is nutty to say that spanking never is beneficial, or that it never improves child behavior. There are probably 100 million parents who say otherwise.
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