Smacking Kids ‘Does More Harm Than Good’
And leads to mental health problems and worse behaviour
It was a long held belief that smacking a naughty child was a parent’s prerogative to keep them in line and teach them right from wrong. But now half a century of research has found the now controversial past time actually does more harm than good. The more children are physically chastised, the more likely they are to defy their parents, scientists have found. They are also more prone to mental health problems, aggressive outbursts, cognitive difficulties and antisocial behaviour, according to the study. Spanking - or corporal punishment - is usually defined as hitting a child with an open hand without causing physical injury.
Professors Elizabeth Gershoff, from the University of Texas at Austin and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, at the University of Michigan analysed 50 years of research involving more than 160,000 children. They found children who were smacked as five-yearolds were slightly more likely to be aggressive and break rules later in primary school. “The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children,” said Professor Grogan-Kaylor. “Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do.” Despite mounting evidence on the harms tied to it, it is ‘still a very typical experience’ for children, studies have found. Children misbehaved more and were more aggressive when they had been smacked by their parents, they found. Those who are spanked were more prone to act out and could be more distracted in the classroom, they found. The researchers also investigated cases of adults who were spanked as children and found the more they were smacked, the more likely they were to experience mental health problems.
Spanking a child can have the opposite outcome to what parents intend.
The more the children are chastised, the more likely they are to defy their parents.