Entries in Spanking (3)


Could Spanking Children Cause Harm in Adulthood?, Canada) -- Physical punishment such as spanking, pushing, grabbing or slapping in childhood could do more harm than good, according to researchers.

A study, authored by Dr. Tracie Afifi of the University of Manitoba and colleagues, suggests that childhood spanking could be linked to adult personality disorders.  The researchers found an increased risk of substance abuse and anxiety, mood and personality disorders in adults who reported physical punishment in their childhood. Between two and seven percent of mental disorders are attributable to physical punishment, researchers reported in the study published in the journal Pediatrics.

If not a firm connection, but the researchers say there's at least an association between physical punishment of children and mental problems when they grow older.  Child psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic Kate Eshleman, who was not involved in the study, agrees.

"There is no direct link.  The study just shows that kids that have been physically disciplined are at an increased risk for these things," Eshleman said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics already opposes spanking and Eshleman says spanking is not an effective way to change behavior. She suggests other methods such as removing privileges when children are doing things they are not supposed to do.

"You know, taking a break from the things that they want to do. Or, for older kids, you know, taking away cell phones," she said.

Eshleman cautions that physical punishment affects every child differently and should be avoided despite individual cases where this kind of discipline produced seemingly positive results.

"Certainly there are kids who have been, you know, spanked who have turned out just fine. But, if there are things that we know place people at an increased risk, and we can avoid these things, we certainly want to do so," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Should Your Child Be Spanked at School?

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It is one of the most controversial methods of child discipline, but spanking in school -- usually with a wooden or fiberglass paddle -- is still allowed by law in 19 states. The practice is most prevalent in the Midwest and South.

According to a report from the Juvenile Information Exchange, more than 28,500 students in Georgia were spanked in 2008, mostly in rural counties. The number is much smaller in Florida -- around 3,600 last year -- but that's where the issue is getting new attention.

For the second year in a row, a Florida lawmaker is trying to ban corporal punishment in schools there; last year the measure never made it to the floor for a full vote.

Opponents of the ban say spanking is matter of tradition and good old-fashioned discipline. But at least one Florida mom is suing to stop the practice. Tenika Jones says the principal at the Joyce Bullock Elementary School in Levy County paddled her 5-year-old so severely last April that he cried for hours, triggering an asthma attack, which in turn required a trip to the emergency room.

The boy was spanked for roughhousing with another student on a school bus. Jones said her son had welts on his buttocks, missed a week of school and still has nightmares about the incident.

"That's child abuse to me," the 32-year old told reporters, "If they don't want us to hit our kids, they shouldn't either." Principal Jaime Handlin declined to comment, citing the on-going legislation, but she did tell the Willston Pioneer newspaper that "nothing was violated."

She added, "I disciplined out of love, not anger."

Researchers have found that spanking can increase aggressiveness in children and can even hurt the mental development of young children.

"Corporal punishment doesn't get us the results we want," said Deborah Sendek, program director of the Center for Effective Discipline, a group that advocates against corporal punishment. "You can get the same result from an intervention – simply telling and teaching children to stop the behavior."

Sendek says the practice is not only ineffective, it can also teach children that hitting is acceptable. Sendek, who has worked with abused and neglected children for three decades, says children who are hit ultimately learn to avoid the punisher, not the behavior.

She cited a number of instances in which children were seriously injured and asked why so many American children are subject to this type of punishment.

"We're not allowed to hit a prisoner. We do not hit in the military," Sendek said, "Why do we give prisoners more protection than we give our schoolchildren?”

Even if parents do not agree with corporal punishment, there is little they can do to guarantee that their child will not be hit by an administrator if she or he misbehaves. Sendek says her group suggests that parents who want to opt out of that type of discipline should send a letter to the principal and school administrators at the beginning of each school year, and make sure that their concerns are put in the child's permanent record. She also recommends reviewing the school district's disciplinary policies and voicing any concerns at parent/teacher conferences or school board meetings before a child is ever hit.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Parents Caught Spanking Children on Tape

Comstock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- Researcher George Holden set off to study how often parents yelled at their children, but after listening to 36 hours of real-time audiotapes he heard something else -- the cracks of spanking and the screams that followed.

Most of the behavioral incidents were "petty" in nature, according Holden, a professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University in Texas, but the punishment was "virtually all highly inappropriate."

In one incident recorded on tape, a mother spanked her 3-year-old 11 times for fighting with his sister and is reduced to tears and coughing.  One child was punished for not cleaning his room.  Another was slapped for being overzealous during a bedtime story by pointing and turning the page.

"They were pretty shocking," said Holden, who has written five books on child development.

"They highlight that so much of corporal punishment are misguided notions of parenting that are bad for the child," he said. "It's sad that a parent inadvertently ruins the quality of their relationship by jumping on the child for being a normal kid."

The study, Real Life Mother-Child Interaction in the Home, was conducted over six nights, when parents and children were most tired.  Holden found 36 mothers and one father at Dallas day care centers who agreed to leave a tape running between the time they got home and put the kids to bed.

The parents were evenly divided from all economic backgrounds.  Most were white and a third were African Americans.

So as not to skew the study, they were told that it was about parents' interaction with their children.

"The vast majority -- 90 percent of parents -- admit yelling at their kids, but we didn't have a good data what is it like," Holden told ABC News.

But the tapes showed more than yelling.

"We have not totally coded all the tapes yet, so we actually expect to find a lot more examples of this inadvertent window into parents' use of corporal punishment," said Holden.  "It presents a unique view that no one ever had before about what goes on in these families."

Holden presented his study this month in Dallas at the Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline and it was reported in Time magazine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio