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Research Finds Spanking To Be Ineffective And Abusive

It took place over 50 years

via Flickr user (cc) BigMonkey29

For years, parents have argued whether it’s better to spank a child or not. Will a few whacks on the backside make your child believe it’s ok to solve problems with violence? Or does “sparing the rod” make a child undisciplined? A massive study published in the The Journal of Family Psychology may have just ended age-old spanking debate. The meta research project by Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff from University of Texas at Austin included a total of 160,927 children over a 50-year period.

The major takeaway from the study was that spanking is a very ineffective way to persuade children to comply with their parents’ wishes. “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children,” Gershoff said in a statement. “Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” said the study’s co-author, Andrew Grogan-Kaylor from the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

The study also discovered that as the frequency of spankings increases so does the likelihood a child will develop mental health issues, aggressive tendencies and antisocial behavior. The study also found that the psychological effects produced by spanking are similar to those caused by physical abuse. “We, as a society, think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” Grogan-Kaylor said. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

Now that the debate is settled, some parents may actually have to learn how to discipline their children without resorting to physical violence.

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