Spanking Children Worsens Bad Behavior, New Study Finds

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Some parents believe in the old saying, "spare the rod, spoil the child," and regard physical punishment as a way to raise good children. However, a new study has uncovered evidence that spanking children doesn't work to correct bad behavior.

In a study published in The Lancet journal, experts looked into the data of 69 studies, spanning 20 years of research, to determine the effectiveness of spanking children. Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff, the lead co-author of the study, said that they found no concrete data showing that physical punishment works to correct the child's bad behavior, even after some time.

Gershoff further said that all the evidence they've uncovered from the extensive documents showed that spanking children is more "harmful to children's development and well-being." A physical punishment might get the child's attention, but it's not enough for the child to "internalize" that they have to do the right thing.

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The study experts also said that physical punishment could trigger more aggression among children, which can become another behavioral problem that they could carry in their adult life. Spanking also won't improve their ability to develop cognitive thinking or thrive in social relationships because this will affect their social skills.

Bad for parents, too!

The researchers discovered that negative effects of spanking are consistent regardless of gender, race, or ethnic group. Parents also suffer from dishing out this type of punishment because they could become more violent and make erratic choices in disciplining their kids.

According to Gershoff, many parents have this mindset to escalate the physical punishment if the children don't comply with the rules and keep on misbehaving. Not many parents realize that children do not need to feel the pain to learn the lesson as they will not see nor understand what's right or wrong from getting hurt.

Gershoff also pointed out that if aggression is not allowed among adults and laws are governing this, it shouldn't be allowed on children as well. She said that minors have to be extended the same protection from violence.

Spanking Still Legal in the U.S.

Unfortunately, in the United States, it is legal for parents to carry out physical punishment. It is also legal for at least 19 states to allow schools and school officials to spank children as a form of discipline.

The study was undertaken to help policymakers to build better laws for the community. Anja Heilmann, another co-author, said that this has become a public health issue, sparking the interest of advocates and political leaders. She stated that those who create the laws should consider the evidence presented in this latest study and uphold their "responsibility to protect children and legislate to end the use of physical punishment in all settings."  

According to the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, hitting or spanking kids has been banned in 62 countries, while 27 countries are changing their laws regarding corporal punishment for minors.

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