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Defiant child

Is Spanking Ever a Good Idea?

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Spanking was a generally accepted method of discipline in the 1950s and 1960s, and the concept corporal punishment – such as rulers swatting knuckles – was routinely used in many school systems around the country, particularly private and parochial schools. However, the overwhelming consensus of child experts is that spanking is never, ever a good idea. Consider what some of the leading research organizations and groups advocating for child care and safety have to say about spanking.

American Academy of Pediatrics

The American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly” opposes spanking as a form of discipline. The group says studies show spanking or striking a child is not an effective form of discipline; and in fact, teaches young people that violence is a proper way to express anger and to discipline children. In addition, the AAP says that spanking can destroy the element of trust between a child and his or her parents, and make effective future communication virtually impossible.

Yale Parenting Center

The results of a number of studies over several decades clearly show that spanking and hitting can lead to physical injury and mental health issues for children. In addition, children who are spanked regularly tend to be more aggressive and exhibit anti-social behavior as they get older. “You cannot punish out these behaviors that you do not want,” according to Alan Kazdin, PhD, director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. “There is no need for corporal punishment based on the research … “We are saying this is a horrible thing that does not work.”

University of Michigan

Researchers at the Child Violence and Trauma Laboratory at the University of Michigan say one of the reasons spanking is still in use is because parents who were spanked disagree with the experts and the results of extensive research. Sandra Graham-Bermann, PhD, a principal investigator at the lab, said the research on spanking “is extremely telling and very clear and consistent about the negative effects on children.”

Is One Spanking Episode Dangerous?

An isolated spanking episode will not permanently damage your relationship with your child, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, it’s important to talk about the incident and explain that you momentarily lost control and made a poor decision that you regret. Ask your child how he or she feels about spanking and make a promise to never spank or hit your child again. That one mistake can be turned into an important teaching lesson.

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