Spanking can worsen a child’s behavior and do real harm, study finds

(CNN) Physical punishment does not appear to improve a child’s positive behavior or social competence over time, according to a review of 69 studies from the US, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Spanking can cause a child real harm, a review of global studies found.The review, published Monday in the journal Lancet, found physical punishment such as spanking is “harmful to children’s development and well-being,” said senior author Elizabeth Gershoff, a professor in human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

“Parents hit their children because they think doing so will improve their behavior,” Gershoff said. “Unfortunately for parents who hit, our research found clear and compelling evidence that physical punishment does not improve children’s behavior and instead makes it worse.”

Children acted out more after punishment

To measure the impact of spanking and other physical punishments that parents might typically choose to discipline a child, the review excluded verbal and “severe” types of physical punishment that would be characterized as child abuse.

Spanking can lead to relationship violence, study saysThat included such actions as “hitting a child with an object; hitting or slapping on the face, head or ears; throwing an object at a child; beating; hitting with a fist; punching; kicking; washing a child’s mouth out with soap; throwing down; choking; burning; scalding; and threatening with a knife or gun,” Gershoff said.

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Categories: Psychology

2 replies

  1. What we now accept as child abuse, was once the norm, in fact in the Bible it says ‘Don’t spare the rod’. It was not unusual to threaten children with a beating, sometimes it was a last resort with awkward children, although they may not have actually been beaten. And often children were beaten for various reasons, sometimes only lightly and sometimes severely. Attitudes have changed about this matter, and it is now recognised that it is an act of cruelty and a crime to subject children to something that is not acceptable if done to an adult.

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