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New Study Shows that Spanking Causes Aggressive Behavior

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.

By | April 13th, 2010 | SHOW COMMENTS (11)

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11 Responses

  1. Tommy says

    Marco, you pose an interesting question. People always say that parents are key to the bringing up of a child, which most would agree with I believe. Let me say that I am not a religious person, not that I don’t believe in it but I am agnostic. I believe that if children went to church with family, and more social gatherings I believe children would know how to appropriately act, maybe this would help prevent youth crimes.

  2. Protect Self Defense says

    I can only remember my parents spanking me twice in my life as a child. Both times i did something that was very extreme and well deserving. Spanking should not be a regular form of punishment for children. my parents simply took a way the TV or removed the doors from our bedrooms. Now that worked !

  3. safety training canada says

    This is a very interesting post, and I definitely understand your concern for helping. 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.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. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Marco says

    Hmmmmm. Interesting. I’ve been trying to think about various factors (admittedly no study involved) as to why youth crime, and violence among youths is increasing.

    Part of what I have been assuming is the breakdown in family. So many failed relationships lead to single parent families. I also personally believe that parents do not discipline their children anymore.

    Just 2 to 3 decades ago, children would fear their fathers and mothers. Whether it was due to a spanking or some other form of discipline.

    When I attend calls regarding “out of control kids”, the parents constantly state “I just don’t know what to do.”

    I see increasing youth crimes, particularly violent ones when I am at work.

    Perhaps spanking isn’t the answer.

    But sending them to their room without dinner doesn’t seem to be working either…

  5. Ah Chan says

    I agree with the idea that corporal punishment CAN be counter productive, but I truly think that it is not that actual action that is counter productive but rather the INTENTION behind it. Sure every parent who spanks their kids say that its out of love and discipline, but I’m sure almost every parent has spanked their kid because they (the parents) where angry. In my opinion, that teaches kids that its ok to become violent when they are angry.
    My rule is that if im angry at my child, i will not spank them until i have calmed down. Emotion should be void from the punishment or else the child will take it personally and is more likely to misunderstand the whole point of the punishment. Just my Opinion.

  6. Steve says

    Wonderful article!
    I have a kid and he is very naughty these article shed some light,thanks

  7. stun gun says

    Spanking or disciplining has a place in every child’s life…it has to be done…i am one that spanks and will continue to do so with love…as that is what the kids really need.

  8. trancoso says

    Interesting, but on the other hand if we wouldn’t spank (very lightly offcourse) our children they would never know the difference between wright and wrong. In my opinion the study should be the other way around to proof something solid

  9. giemmevi says

    Quite obvious! Still it’s necessary to underline these facts proven by the study.
    Thanks!

  10. GuardianSelfDefense says

    Interesting article. As the father of a 5 year old, my frustration level at times has been over the top. We’ve stopped spanking as it just seemed to make things work.

  11. Pat M says

    I think parents spank their children because they are frustrated with their children and don’t know what to do. Children have some really bad days and it is difficult to remain calm when your kids are going after each other and ignoring what you are saying.

    Some children are very calm and reasonable. Others are quite the opposite.

    If you would deal with some really tough children instead of a calm child, you may not be able to get a sweet calm response. You can talk all you want and say anything but I have seen some really tough cases where the children do not listen to your calm expanations.

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