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David Baxter

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Spare the Rod?
By Claudia Kalb, Newsweek
Feb 28, 2008

Spanking may lead to aggression and sexual problems later in life, says a new study. So why do so many parents still believe in it?

It's a topic that riles up emotions and opinions the way few others do in the contentious world of parenting philosophies. Spanking. Should you? How could you? Is it right? Is it wrong? Online message boards are flooded with messages on the topic: the confessions, the wrath, the full-on support. "Yes, I've done it, even though I always swore I wouldn't," writes one. "Sometimes spanking works best," responds another. And then there are the vocal opponents. "Spanking," writes one, "is abuse."

The spanking wrangle has a long history in scientific research, and new findings to be reported today at the American Psychological Association Summit Conference on Violence and Abuse in Relationships will intensify the debate yet again. In a provocative paper, Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, says that spanking kids increases their risk of sexual problems as adults. Straus, a longtime researcher in the field, analyzed four prior studies and found that teens or young adults whose parents used corporal punishment were more likely to coerce dating partners into having sex or to engage in risky or masochistic sex.

One stat: the 25 percent of university students who ranked highest on a corporal punishment scale insisted on sex without a condom, compared with the 12.5 percent of university students who scored lowest on the scale. Another: 75 percent of college students who'd been spanked a lot said they were sexually aroused by masochistic sex, compared with 40 percent of students who were never spanked. "It's so consistent with so many other studies showing harmful side effects," says Straus. "It didn't surprise me."

The new study has its weaknesses, but so does just about every other paper in the field. For starters, you can't study spanking in the randomized double-blind way you can a medication. It would be ethically inappropriate to divide a bunch of kids into two groups, spank some, spare others and then compare how they fare 10 or 20 years down the road. And double-blind? Impossible to disguise spanking in a dummy pill. So there's no way to absolutely prove cause and effect. The study also relies on students' own recollections of their childhood experiences. Straus says he controlled for people covering up mistreatment by their parents. On the other hand, the students could also have exaggerated. "It's possible," says Strauss, "though I don't find it too plausible."

Elizabeth Gershoff, a researcher at University of Michigan's School of Social Work, says Straus's findings are consistent with the literature. "I have every faith in his research," Gershoff says. "The more children are spanked, the more aggressive they are and the more likely they are to engage in delinquent or at-risk behaviors." Sexual behavior is just one example of that behavior, she says. One lesson kids learn, says Gershoff, is that if you have the power in a relationship, you can use aggression to get your way. Another: "[Kids] may learn that sometimes there's pain and fear involved in loving relationships."

Gershoff, who published a large analysis of the spanking research in 2002 and has just completed a new paper about spanking in the context of human rights and public policy, says spanking may work to gets kids' attention, but it doesn't teach them how to behave appropriately in the long-term. A little tap once in a while is going to have minimal risk, but the risk increases "the more you do it and the harder you do it," she says. "I think everything we know from the research is that it doesn't work and it might have negative side effects."

Not every scientist agrees. Robert Larzelere, a human development researcher at Oklahoma State University, says that "conditional" or "backup" spanking in two-to-six-year-old kids can be useful. The spanking needs to be nonabusive (two open-hand swats on the behind from a parent who's not "angrily out of control") and it needs to be used not as a first line of response but as a backup to other kinds of discipline, like timeouts, grounding and reasoning. "Under these conditions, the evidence suggests that it's effective," says Larzelere. Too often, he says, spanking research lumps corporal punishment into one big group, failing to draw the line between overly severe punishment and a couple of taps on the buttocks. His conclusion: conditional spanking isn't more harmful than any other kind of discipline. The key, he says, is that parents need to discriminate between "inappropriate and appropriate use."

No single study is likely to stop the practice of spanking. The Bible says, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him," and plenty of Americans interpret the passage literally. The Christian group Focus on the Family, for example, says there's no excuse for abusing a child, but spanking is OK when it's done right. "We believe that appropriate, disciplinary spanking, used in the context of a warm, nurturing parent-child relationship, is not abusive or harmful to the emotional well-being of the child," says Bill Maier, Focus on the Family's vice president and psychologist in residence, in an e-mail.

But researchers like Straus, who calls himself a humanist, say children need to be protected. Nobody knows exactly how many people spank their kids, but in one survey Straus found that more than 90 percent of Americans have spanked their toddlers, and while not all will turn out to have dysfunctional sex lives or be aggressive adults, he and others are worried about those who might.

Should there be a policy against it? The American Academy of Pediatrics goes as far as to say that parents should be encouraged to use other methods of discipline. Twenty-two states, meanwhile, still allow spanking in schools. And while there's plenty of grass-roots effort to end it (the group End Physical Punishment of Children, or EPOCH-USA, is holding its annual SpankOut Day on April 30), many Americans are wary of taking too radical a step. When Sally Lieber, an assemblywoman in Silicon Valley, introduced a bill last year that would ban corporal punishment in her state, the public let her know that they didn't want the government messing with their parental rights. "It obviously touched a nerve," says Lieber. "It was like being in the eye of giant cultural hurricane." A hurricane that shows no signs of dissipating.
 

rosedragon

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that if you have the power in a relationship, you can use aggression to get your way. Another: "[Kids] may learn that sometimes there's pain and fear involved in loving relationships."

My mother hit her children if we cry, to stop us from crying. More we cry, more hard she will hit us. She ever hit me with a brush so hard that accidentally it broke and wound me. Or sink my head to bathtub (painful).
For an asian I'm quiet aggressive that I'm the one who ask guy to be my boyfriend also invite him to my bed. But I don't like risking, when he start to ask unsafe sex I'm avoiding him and it was one of my reasons to break. I'm also aggressive on doing what I want to do/ my believes.
 

braveheart

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The effects of threats of hitting, and consequent severe anxiety, and lack of intimacy and so forth. They missed that out.
 

Mari

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"
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him,"

Although I can not locate it at the moment that quote in my bible is slightly different. Some people interpret it to mean to use the rod the way a shepherd does - to gently guide the sheep, or in this case the child, away from danger. Parenting is not always easy and although I do not think that spanking is a good idea I can sympathize with parents who occasionally lose their cool and give a child one good smack on the rear. :eek: My youngest son can drive anyone to distraction. Someone also mentioned to me that spanking was probably not a good choice because if like me they have three boys it might work when they are little but you better have another alternative for when they are over six feet tall. :eek: Mari
 

David Baxter

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Although I can not locate it at the moment that quote in my bible is slightly different. Some people interpret it to mean to use the rod the way a shepherd does - to gently guide the sheep, or in this case the child, away from danger.

Interesting. I had never heard that interpretation but it makes a lot of sense to me. That is, after all, the true role of a parent - to guide and teach and nurture, not to punish and dominate.

Someone also mentioned to me that spanking was probably not a good choice because if like me they have three boys it might work when they are little but you better have another alternative for when they are over six feet tall.

Also an excellent point. :)
 

Aladdin

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My father did spank me good my brother on the other hand they did not spank my little brother and today there is a big difference between us.He wants everything as he wants it and have no respect for other people and if he is in trouble i had to help him out of it.

spanking is take away in our schools a few years ago and now there is no dicepline anymore our standerd fell to rock bodem we agressive behivour in our schhools and at home.I spoke to my children and if they dont lisen i sent them to their room or i take somethings away,like no ice cream for the day but if i had to talk 3 times over the same things i put them over my lap and spank them on their bottoms with my open hand.then i make them sit and talk to them and tell them why i spank them and that i love them.

their mother dont spank them and believe it wrong but she pinch them and trow things at them and if she did spank them they had to go to their room with out talking to them.

everyone talk about researce but did anyone do a researce of our childrens behaviour when spanking was in and now that spanking is out.

i believe a good spanking on its time is good medicine but it you had to take care how you do it. some people are crazy and dont deserve any children and that people is giving spanking and parrenthood a bad name,if you one of them then please do not spank your children.

I suffer a bit to explain myself in English I hope you understood what I'm trying to explain.

[Do people still believe in their Bible?. Then what do your Bible tell you]
 

David Baxter

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everyone talk about researce but did anyone do a researce of our childrens behaviour when spanking was in and now that spanking is out.

Yes. That's part of what this research is looking at.
 

Aladdin

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Mari said:
Although I can not locate it at the moment that quote in my bible is slightly different. Some people interpret it to mean to use the rod the way a shepherd does - to gently guide the sheep, or in this case the child, away from danger.
Mari said:
Someone also mentioned to me that spanking was probably not a good choice because if like me they have three boys it might work when they are little but you better have another alternative for when they are over six feet tall

if a sheep dont lisen you also spank it but in a sense you are right,you can spank it with love and talk to it and it will start following you and lisen to your voice but as soon as you broke some things over it head or back its starting to run away from you and it is the same with children.

you had to bend the tree while its still young but if try it when the tree is big you gonna brake it.learn them from little whats right and wrong and you dont have to brake them when their big and in the most cases they brake you.
 

David Baxter

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If we're going to quote, what about "you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"?
 
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Being spanked only made me feel upset and angry and resentful. I don't even remember anything of why I got spanked. It's humiliating.
 

lallieth

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# Proverb 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.
# Proverb 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
# Proverb 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.
# Proverb 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.
# Proverb 29:15 Thy rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
Oh my


Spare the Rod?
Statistics on corporal punishment may encourage you to spare the rod.

Psychology Today Magazine, Sep/Oct 2002
Psychology Today: Spare the Rod?



Parents would do well to refrain from using hand or rod to discipline children, according to an analysis of research on spanking and other forms of corporal punishment. The study found correlations, but no direct link, between physical discipline and 11 negative behaviors, including increased aggression and delinquent behavior.

The strongest associations with corporal punishment were increased risk of becoming an abuse victim and immediate compliance with parental demands -- the only behavior that could be considered a "positive" result of corporal punishment. "That these disparate constructs (abuse and compliance) show the strongest links to corporal punishment underlines the controversy over this practice," states Elizabeth Thompson Gershoff, Ph.D., author of the meta-analysis and an associate research scientist at Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty.

A growing number of European countries ban corporal punishment, but 94 percent of U.S. parents reportedly spank their kids by the time the youngsters are 4 years old. Gershoff said the practice can be traced to the American colonial belief that obedience to parents teaches children obedience to God -- which may explain why spanking today is most prevalent in the Bible Belt.

In a critical commentary published in conjunction with Gershoff's study in Psychological Bulletin, three psychologists noted that most studies of corporal punishment are compromised because they rely on retrospective interviews with parents and children. Diana Baumrind, Ph.D., and Philip Cowan, Ph.D., both of the University of California at Berkeley, and Robert E. Larzelere, Ph.D., of the Nebraska Medical Center, also argue that a "blanket injunction" against spanking is not justified in part because Gershoff's analysis included more extreme physical punishment such as a paddle, belt or stick.

Gershoff counters that 25 percent of parents use an object when disciplining children.
 

Retired

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Spanking is simply a big strong person beating up on a smaller weaker person. It's unlikely the spanker would spank a bigger, stronger person.
 

Aladdin

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you'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"?
This is a good one and i like that saying
spanking has it up and downs if i was spank for reason it learn me to lisen and learn dissepline but if i was spank when i did nothing than it make you to get angry,thats the piont i try to make spanking is a good thing if you not over do it and not use it as you first opsion,and i triy not to punish my children when im very angry.but i dont believe to lock them up in their room or to pinch them,some people lock their children in their room when dark with out light and mess up a child completly.
It will help if you give some guidelines how to punish children ,like sent them to their room for time or tike away their icecream.im a single parent and i tried to rise my children the best i can.the big thing is i spank them after a lot of talk and then it is like 4-5 flat hands on their behind.Most of the time they have me in their pocket.
But how do you spank them if they look with big eyes up to you.
to talk about spanking and punishment but sometimes it is not easy it stayes a treat.

The best parens you get that is exsperts how to rise children and how to punish them is the people who dont have children.the best sportman is sitting on the side.
 
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lallieth

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Alladin

Why do you not talk with your children first instead of spanking then talking.
 

MDH

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Because if you don't mind me saying, some people like to shoot first and ask questions later.

Honestly, trying to make something so incivil into a civil behavior is just asking for it for me.

It's asking to turn your kids into honestly stupid people. Blinding them to what's truly bad in the world and allowing themselves to be victimized (or victimize other people) in later life

So far I've seen so much justification for what basically comes down to uncivil and unecessary behavior I could write two books (and a half, each with 600 pages and a small font size) about it. People don't want to face the truth so they candy it up.
 

Stompgal

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My parents hit me when I was younger, most recently seven years ago. We came home from holiday and I wanted to go back into the house immediately but my dad asked me to carry some luggage into my house. Because I didn't want to, I swore to myself and my dad hit me. I told him I didn't like it, he apologised and hasn't smacked me since.

When I was 18, I became verbally and physically aggressive towards my parents due to a mental illness. In October 2005, my dad had to look after me and my younger brother while my mum and sister were on holiday in Ibiza. A few hours before my dad picked them up from the airport, he asked me to put my plate and cutlery into the dishwasher. I refused, but he let out an almighty, "YEEEEESSS!" because he was furious. He then told me that he'd had enough of looking after me all week and the next thing I knew, he grabbed the frying pan out of the dishwasher and threatened to hit me with it, saying that it'd "f***ing hurt" and he was going to kill me. I even felt like calling the police, but I didn't because I knew my dad had to pick up my mum and sister from the airport. When he picked them up, I told my mum about the threat.

The next couple of months were brutal. I hit my dad in the chest and shouted at him because I felt that he grabbed me while carrying me down the stairs to my bedroom. It was also lunchtime and I was sent to my room for calling my mum something rude. The next day my dad couldn't go to work because his chest was still hurting from where I'd hit him. I felt very guilty about it. I also threatened to strangle my dad with a belt because his snoring kept me awake.

One Saturday, I was waiting for a bus to go to Cwmbran with my mum. I may have shouted at her a lot that morning so at the bus stop, she told me to behave otherwise we wouldn't go to Cwmbran. I involuntary yelled because I felt that my mum had treated me like a child. She walked away from me, leaving me at the bus stop alone. I screamed at her to come back, but she just walked off completely ignoring me. In the end, I caught up with her, shouted at her and tried pushing her off the pavement. When we got home, I spat at her and nearly threw a book at her. She got very upset and phoned my dad, asking him to come home soon (he was at Barry Island with my brother). When my dad arrived, mum explained to him what had happened. later that day, I was admitted to a local mental health hospital for three days and I didn't like it.

During the Christmas holidays, I hit my dad yet again because he asked me to calm down. He soon drove to my grandparents' house to spend the night with them. I became depressed and when he came home the next day, I hit him again. My mum called the police and I was scared because I thought they were going to arrest me. When the police came, they gave me a warning and I never hit my parents since.

The above paragraphs really prove that what goes around, comes around...
 

poohbear

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As a parent (who was abused as a child), I have SUCH a difficult time controlling my temper. It has taken me years to stop thinking of spanking a child, first off. I really do try other means of punishment first. And to be honest, it has been months since I have spanked any of my three sons. My three yr old has gotten a few smacks on the bottom, but only when in immediate danger (running into traffic, or away in public). I don't think it will be used ever again in my household. It was a hard habit to break.

I still have a TREMENDOUS amount to learn about parenting. I am learning how to be a better one very day. Kids don't come with handbooks, you know. But, I have come to understand WHY my parents beat us. They didn't know any better. They had no clue. These days, the ill-efects of corporal punishment are well documented. 50 years ago, it was safe to drive 50 miles an hour with an infant on your lap and no seatblet! The times are changing. We have to understand and try to forgive our parents for being ignorant.

This does not excuse violence, however. Beating your child simply because you can, or because you want to discipline and have neglected to try any other means is simply wrong. Beating your child into a coma is wrong. Leaving bruises and welts, purposely avoiding bony areas so as to not leave marks, using brushes (or hangars or spoons, belts, etc) is wrong. Leaving a handprint on a face that stays for almost a week (and then lying about it, or making you lie about it) is dead wrong. My parents did this many times, and for THAT, I am angry. It was uncalled for. It was abusive. It was reckless. And it DID instill in me the feeling that I could overcome with violence.

I hope that I have stopped in enough time for my kids to heal. I hope that when they have children, that they are healthy disciplinarians.

And I hope they forgive me.--Poohbear:(
 

Stompgal

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My three yr old has gotten a few smacks on the bottom, but only when in immediate danger (running into traffic, or away in public).

My advice to you, poohbear, would be instead of smacking your three-year-old son (he's still very young) if he runs into the road, I suggest you give him a firm hug whilst lifting him out of danger and say something such as, "Don't run into the road. It's dangerous." That's a more positive way to deal with the situation.
 
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Daniel

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That's a more positive way to deal with the situation.

Of course, the concern in such a life-or-death situation is not what is most positive but what is most effective. And unless there is hard evidence that shows a more effective (or least ineffective) method for stopping children of a certain age from running into the road, the debate will continue, e.g. a typical parent reaction:

San Francisco mom Shelli Rawlings-Fein said she generally opposes spanking, but her 19-month-old daughter still got slapped on the hand when she reached for a hot stove.

"And she hesitates now before going to the stove," Rawlings-Fein said.

Bailey, whose daughters are now 12 and 17, added, "You can't have a logical conversation with toddlers about why it's not safe to run into the road."

Bid to outlaw spanking stirs emotions / Mountain View lawmaker's plan faces an uphill fight
 
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