Why NOT to spank our children
Sureshrani PaintalSureshrani Paintal is Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education, Chicago State University, Chicago, Illinois.
Consequences of Corporal PunishmentAccumulated research supports the theory that corporal punishment is an ineffective discipline strategy with children of all ages and, furthermore, that it is often dangerous. Corporal punishment most often produces in its victims anger, resentment, and low self-esteem. It teaches violence and revenge as solutions to problems, and perpetuates itself, as children imitate what they see adults doing. Research substantiates the following consequences of corporal punishment:
Children whose parents use corporal punishment to control antisocial behavior show more antisocial behavior themselves over a long period of time, regardless of race and socioeconomic status, and regardless of whether the mother provides cognitive stimulation and emotional support (Gunnoe & Mariner, 1997; Kazdin, 1987; Patterson, DeBaryshe, & Ramsey, 1989; Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997).
A consistent pattern of physical abuse exists that generally starts as corporal punishment, and then gets out of control (Kadushin & Martin, 1981; Straus & Yodanis, 1994).
Adults who were hit as children are more likely to be depressed or violent themselves (Berkowitz, 1993; Strassberg, Dodge, Pettit, & Bates, 1994; Straus, 1994; Straus & Gelles, 1990; Straus & Kantor, 1992).
The more a child is hit, the more likely it is that the child, when an adult, will hit his or her children, spouse, or friends (Julian & McKenry, 1993; Straus, 1991; Straus, 1994; Straus & Gelles, 1990; Straus & Kantor, 1992; Widom, 1989; Wolfe, 1987).
Corporal punishment increases the probability of children assaulting the parent in retaliation, especially as they grow older (Brezina, 1998).
Corporal punishment sends a message to the child that violence is a viable option for solving problems (Straus, Gelles, & Steinmetz, 1980; Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997).
Corporal punishment is degrading, contributes to feelings of helplessness and humiliation, robs a child of self-worth and self-respect, and can lead to withdrawal or aggression (Sternberg et al., 1993; Straus, 1994).
Corporal punishment erodes trust between a parent and a child, and increases the risk of child abuse; as a discipline measure, it simply does not decrease children's aggressive or delinquent behaviors (Straus, 1994).
Children who get spanked regularly are more likely over time to cheat or lie, be disobedient at school, bully others, and show less remorse for wrongdoing (Straus, Sugarman, & Giles-Sims, 1997).
Corporal punishment adversely affects children's cognitive development. Children who are spanked perform poorly on school tasks compared to other children (Straus & Mathur, 1995; Straus & Paschall, 1998).
Parental corporal punishment is associated with higher levels of immediate compliance and aggression, lower levels of moral internalization and mental health, delinquency and antisocial behavior, quality of parent child relationship, and likelihood of becoming a victim of physical abuse (Gershoff, 2002).
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