Thursday, October 17, 2013

The case against spanking

I posted a case saying that it is Legal to spank with wooden spoon. Now it has 700+ comments on a law professor site.

One cited the Amer. Psy. Ass. case against spanking:
As in many areas of science, some researchers disagree about the validity of the studies on physical punishment. Robert Larzelere, PhD, an Oklahoma State University professor who studies parental discipline, was a member of the APA task force who issued his own minority report because he disagreed with the scientific basis of the task force recommendations. While he agrees that parents should reduce their use of physical punishment, he says most of the cited studies are correlational and don’t show a causal link between physical punishment and long-term negative effects for children.

“The studies do not discriminate well between non-abusive and overly severe types of corporal punishment,” Larzelere says. “You get worse outcomes from corporal punishment than from alternative disciplinary techniques only when it is used more severely or as the primary discipline tactic.”

In a meta-analysis of 26 studies, Larzelere and a colleague found that an approach they described as “conditional spanking” led to greater reductions in child defiance or anti-social behavior than 10 of 13 alternative discipline techniques, including reasoning, removal of privileges and time out (Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 2005). Larzelere defines conditional spanking as a disciplinary technique for 2- to 6-year-old children in which parents use two open-handed swats on the buttocks only after the child has defied milder discipline such as time out.
I don't think that any of the comments convince anyone of anything. The evidence on spanking is weak. Some people believe in it and some don't. About 80% of parents say spanking is necessary in child-rearing. About 80% of child psychologists advise against it.

I am not trying to persuade anyone that spanking is good or bad, but I would like to point out the illogic of the arguments against spanking.

(1) "The studies show that spanking is harmful." No, the studies do not show that, and if an expert tells you that, he is wrong. Despite many efforts, no study has shown that any other method of discipline works better than spanking.

(2) "Extremely abusive beatings are harmful, and therefore so are spankings." No, many things are beneficial in moderation, and harmful in overdoses. If a so-called expert cannot understand that, then he is not much of an expert.

(3) "Nothing is ever solved by violence, or threat of violence, and the child needs to be taught that." This is the weirdest argument of all. Violence won World War II. Violence keeps criminals off the streets. Threat of violence keeps citizens obeying the law and paying their bills. Every civilization in the history of the world has been based on violence to keep order. Yes, violence solves problems, and the sooner the child learns that, the better.

The anti-spanking zealots remind me of vegans. If they don't want to eat meat, that is fine with me. But when they claim that veganism is healthier, or the only moral way to live, then they are fanatics, far outside the norm.

1 comment:

lisa said...


Im a therapist and i would say spanking isnt universally bad but its something a parent needs to do carefully.

I treat patients mostly for PTSD and almost exclusively from events that happened as an adult but there are lots of issues that are brought in and spanking, spanking can cause a tremendous feeling of powerlessness and unfairness that impacts adult lives.

So Id be careful and Id do it sparingly. And Id make sure my child knew why the spanking occurred and it was being done out of love and not anger. Communicate, communicate, communicate