Spanking Study Is Shocking to People Who Live in Caves

spanking dollFor my husband and me, not spanking our child has been mostly a gut decision. It just feels like the right choice for us. We haven't been compiling research that proves spanking is bad for kids, although there seems to be a lot of that research out there lately.

The latest study shows a link between spanking and aggressive behavior in spanked children. It's not a make-or-break study for me, but it does make me feel more confident in my choice. And it also doesn't surprise me at all.


The new study looked at 20 years' worth of research -- none of which found positive, long-term effects from spanking. Instead, "everyday" type physical punishment is linked to increased levels of aggression in the kids. Co-author of the study, Joan Durrant, says, "I think it's important for parents to understand that although physical punishment might get a child to do something in the immediate situation, there are many side effects that can develop over the long term."

And those possible side effects? Kids who see parents respond to conflict by spanking may, in turn, use physical violence when they, too, are in conflict or are frustrated. Well ... yeah! Sounds totally logical to me. So if there are no positive long-term outcomes from spanking, only negative side effects, why would I ever consider doing it?

I was spanked as a child, and it always scared me. I don't recall ever having a moment of thoughtful reflection after getting spanked. Mostly I felt angry, threatened, and more than anything else, hurt. It just felt intrinsically wrong. It felt utterly at odds with every single other experience I ever had with my parents. So for as long as I can remember, I have been telling myself that I would never spank my own children.

I don't recall ever promising myself that I wouldn't put my child in time-out, or ground my child, or subject my child to a boring, squirm-inducing lecture, though. Authoritative parenting makes a lot of sense to me.

While a generation ago it seemed like almost everyone spanked, I don't think any of my friends spank their kids now (though supposedly 22 percent of parents in the U.S. say they do it). Around my community, anyway, it's considered kind of a freaky, out-of-control thing to do. And that gives me hope that maybe the next generation of kids will be more capable of dealing with life's frustrations in a non-aggressive way.

Do you spank your children? Why or why not?


Image via Ben Husmann/Flickr

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