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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Study: Spanking hurts kids in the long run
    Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:15am

Spanking hurts kids in the long run, too

By Michael MacKenzie, Special to CNN
updated 4:42 PM EDT, Tue October 22, 2013

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Michael MacKenzie: Spanking gets results but can harm development
  • He says kids who are spanked are at greater risk for behavior, speech problems
  • MacKenzie: How parents discipline kids is tied to cultural, religious, family traditions
  • He says researchers and health practitioners must teach parents alternatives to spanking


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Editor's note: Michael MacKenzie is an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work. His research involves stress and risk in early parenting and the effects and reasons behind children going into and through the child welfare system.

(CNN) -- In my first job in high school stocking the shelves with fresh produce at the grocery store, I often saw parents struggling with misbehaving children. Some would scream, while others would spank their kids.

It was always awkward to witness, because I felt sympathy for both sides. Were the children choosing to act out because the parents were busy and stressed buying food? But surely the parents could think of a better way to handle a defiant child?

I'm now a researcher at the Columbia School of Social Work and a specialist in child welfare, and I have just completed a study of this very issue. Columbia colleagues Eric Nicklas, Jane Waldfogel and Jeanne Brooks-Gunn and I published findings in the journal Pediatrics (PDF) this week showing that the children who are spanked by their parents are at greater risk for later problems in both vocabulary and behavior.

Michael MacKenzie
Michael MacKenzie

We found that children who were spanked by their mothers at age 5, even relatively infrequently, went on to have higher levels of behavior problems at age 9, even after taking into account other family risk factors that also affect child behavior. Given the chicken vs. egg cyclical nature of this, we also controlled for earlier problems with the children to ensure that it wasn't just that kids who acted out were simply being spanked more.

And 5-year-olds who were spanked frequently, defined as two or more times a week, by their fathers also went on to have lower vocabulary scores at age 9, even after controlling for an array of other risk factors and earlier child vocabulary. This is an important finding, because few studies in this area have examined effects on cognitive development.

A leading researcher on child spanking, Elizabeth Gershoff from the University of Texas at Austin, correctly suggests that some of these cognitive effects may be indirect rather than a result of spanking only. Parents who spank may not talk to their children as often, or kids with behavioral problems may be more distracted at school. To account for some of these possibilities, we did control for a host of other family factors, such as the mom's IQ, the child's earlier verbal intelligence, the child's behavioral problems as well as a measure of how cognitively stimulating the home environment was. So, it appears that spanking is having an effect on vocabulary above and beyond those other factors.

Changing people's minds about something they care about by presenting data is a tough thing to do, particularly around something so emotionally laden as spanking.

Thinking back to my times in that grocery store and what the parents were going through, spanking actually worked for immediate compliance: It gets the child to stop misbehaving. The child stops grabbing food off the shelves; at home, the child stops touching the outlet or breaking his sister's toy, providing parents with immediate feedback that what they are doing is working. But that makes it more difficult to see what is happening in the long term.

How parents discipline their kids is intimately tied to cultural, religious and family traditions, including the meaning parents attach to their own experiences. Many of us say to ourselves, "I was spanked as a kid, and it made me a good person. So what's wrong with spanking my own kids?"

This is a very sensitive topic. That might explain why, even though the evidence is mounting that spanking leads to the very acting-out behavior most parents want to stop and even hurts a child's development, many parents in the United States continue to spank. More than half of the parents we questioned reported spanking their kids at age 3 and at age 5, even though our question just focused on spanking in the past month. Studies that simply look at whether children have been spanked at all find that the vast majority of American children are still spanked today.

Parents who are interested in exploring alternatives to spanking that might be a good fit for their family can talk to their pediatrician about effective strategies. They can also check out healthychildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has some guides for parents on communication and discipline techniques.

Perhaps we researchers need to get better at telling the story. Families sometimes think we are accusing them of abusing their kids and challenging who they are as parents, and in turn they dismiss our findings as coming from out-of-touch academics. Most parents are doing the best they can by their children and must contend with advice from many corners, whether solicited or not.

Researchers and health practitioners must not lose sight of the burden and stress faced by so many families today, particularly since the tools we hope to see replace spanking sometimes require more upfront effort and consistency in implementation, which can be difficult to maintain without support.

We also need to do a better job of conveying to parents what they could do instead of spanking. Parents have a host of tools they can use -- talking, using time-outs and so on -- and all of us who see young parents and children can help demonstrate how effective these other forms of discipline can be.


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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:21am
Really now? Because I got behind whoopings, albeit not that often, and I turned out just fine.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:23am
didn't read. I wasn't spanked but my little brother needs his ass beat. duncurr ahT no white man has to say about it.

but I do think spankings should be a last resort.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:25am
Aint nothing wrong with a spanking here and there.  Beating is worse IMO.  I agree that beating a child could have negative effects on him/her.
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:29am
I too think it would be helpful for the researchers to define "spanking".  

I'm also sexist and I don't think men should ever spank a child under any circumstances.   They don't realize how strong they are.  That's all I got. 
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:29am
sooo I was spanked up to age 12, infrequently mind you because I wasn't a bad child and I was top of my class all through elementary and high school. Research fail Thumbs Down

I never understand why people only look at the hitting aspect or spanking. It's how you raise a child in every aspect. Spanking was the last resort in disciplining, first we got the look then the talk then the cut ass but we also had LOADS more love.

People in this country always analyzing the tiny details of stuff and forget to look at the big picture, then wonder why they need to take their kids to Shows like "Scared Straight" and Maury:- "My 14 year old wants a baby" and "I'm afraid of my 9 year old".
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:30am
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:31am
This rarely goes over well on a forum where many of the posters spank/received spankings. It's like they are so defensive that they won't even read what the study is actually saying.

Think it's worth reiterating that the study didn't say all kids. Says kids are at a greater risk. The headline for the study was written by CNN, not those doing the study.


Edited by Random Thoughts - Oct 23 2013 at 9:32am
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:34am
mannnnnnnnnnn...some of these kids today...that's all I will say
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Direct Link To This Post Posted: Oct 23 2013 at 9:35am


All this!!
Especially 3:38 to the end 
lol
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