I just read a very interesting article about a new study that has provided even stronger evidence that the link between spanking and future aggressive behavior is causal, not just correlated as has long been known. In other words, this study is strong evidence that corporal punishment causes children to become more aggressive and misbehave more in the long run. The study controlled the variables that could also contribute to children having aggressive behavior to help make sure it was the spanking that was causing the aggressive behavior.
The article states, “Compared with children who were not hit, those who were spanked were more likely to be defiant, demand immediate satisfaction of their wants and needs, get frustrated easily, have temper tantrums and lash out physically against others.”
I can think of two main reasons this is important in relation to violence prevention.
Firstly, getting parents to abstain from making the mistakes such as spanking that cause their children to become aggressive and to misbehave later in life will prevent violent crime from occurring. I assume it would most prevent bullying in school, since that is perhaps the main way these children who are made aggressive by spanking end up victimizing people out of the home.
Secondly, making it common knowledge that spanking is counterproductive will disable physically abusive parents from trying to defend themselves by claiming that they were merely using corporal punishment. That’s not to say that any parent who has ever spanked a child was being abusive; they may have genuinely believed it was in the child’s best interest. Rather, I’m saying that parents who are actually abusive could pretend that they were like those parents who actually thought spanking was an effective way to get a child to behave in the long run. But they can’t pretend that anymore once all parents are made aware of the fact that spanking is a counterproductive parenting technique.
What do you think? You can post a comment below. You can also discuss the study in this thread at the Philosophy Forums.