Parenting Without A Paddle

   By drodriguez  May 14, 2008

One of the most heated debates among parents today is the idea of spanking a child as a way of disciplining them. Some do it because it is what was done to them and some don’t do it for that very same reason.

A recent article by Claudia Kalb in Newsweek tackles the debate with new evidence that spanking children may lead to problems down the road. Kalb cites a research paper written by co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire’s Murray Strauss.

Strauss asserts that spanking kids increases risks of sexual problems as adults. One statistic says that 25 percent of college students whose parents used corporal punishment were more likely to have unprotected sex. This statistic is reduced by half in students who were rarely or never spanked. Strauss reported to Newsweek concerning these numbers by saying, “It’s consistent with so many other studies showing harmful side effects.”

One human development researcher that disagrees with Strauss’s study is Robert Larzlere. He believes that “conditional” or “back-up” spanking of children ages 2 to 6 can be helpful. Larzlere warns that the spanking must be nonabusive (a couple of open-hand swats from a calm parent) and must be used as a back-up to things like timeouts and reasoning. Larzlere believes the key to using spanking as a disciplinary method is for parents to be able to discriminate between “inappropriate and appropriate use.”

Researcher Elizabeth Gershoff on the other hand is in agreement with Strauss’s latest study. Gershoff has been studying side effects of spanking in children for quite some times and states, “The more children are spanked, the more aggressive they are and the more likely they are to engage in delinquent or at-risk behavior.” Gershoff believes the side effects go beyond those of a sexual nature saying that children learn from being spanked that a person must use aggression to get their way.

What do you think of the latest research that spanking can have problematic side effects later in life?

Make a Comment

ChelleB by ChelleB | Chicago, IL
Aug 06, 2008

I was spanked until I was 10 years old and I was definitely NOT sexually active at an early age. I actually didn't even date in high school and had my first boyfriend when I was 21. I think the findings of this study can hold true for some people, but not for all. My mother stopped spanking me at 10 years old because she felt it was around that age that she could talk to me and easily explain in detail the reasons for why I shouldn't do certain things and that I would understand.

firecracker by firecracker | Elgin, TX
Jul 31, 2008

I agree. My mom just had to give me the look and I knew I better staighten up. I do not agree with spanking but I do feel parents need to make sure kids know who is boss.

Salemsw by Salemsw | Millbury, MA
Jul 27, 2008

I have to say I agree with the last post.(Mbenita)I remember the eye my father would give us growing up and that alone would stop you in your tracks.

MBenita by MBenita | PHILADELPHIA, PA
Jul 23, 2008

Geez. I'd really like to meet the people behind some of these "studies" and see what their kids are really like via a hidden camera. Not only were we spanked, we didn't threaten to call the cops nor were there "time outs" and all the screaming at parents and that crap. Take your behind to your room until you apologize and get your act together! Super Nanny didn't come into the household because it was under control!

adgiggle by adgiggle | MONACA, PA
Jul 21, 2008

I was spanked as a child,I am not a sexual deviant.I have one partner and we have been together for 7 going on 8 years and for the first few years we were together we used condoms until we wanted a child and now we use them again.I do not think spanking your child/children leads to sexual deviancy.I do believe abuse leads to many different problems,but simply spanking does not.I also believe not punishing your child/children at all is more dangerous to them and could lead to drug abuse,alcohol abuse,and unprotected sex with multiple partners.because they think they can do what ever they want and there is no consequence.The "God complex"they feel as though they are invisible.

photogator by photogator | Gainesville, FL
Jul 14, 2008

I agree with durk11...this study (as any study) has some holes that are not quite filled in, and should be taken with a grain of salt.

However, I was occasionally spanked as a child, but only when I did something really, really bad. My parents preferred to punish by timeouts or restricting privileges. Spanking was a last resort, and it was their way of letting me know that I really crossed a line. I have to say, I never repeated those mistakes again!

I'm not sure how I will respond to my own children (as I don't have any now) but I will probably go the same way as my parents...trying to use any other punishment, but when warranted, I don't think spanking is out of the question.

durk11 by durk11 | New Milford, PA
Jul 09, 2008

In those studies, did anyone ever consider the fact that the reason the kids were getting spanked was because it's their personality or 'disposition' to misbehave or not follow the rules.... and that carries over in every other spect of their life. Hence the 'whole sex before marriage thing'. In these studies, were the children given a psychological exam first? I think it's a bunch of rubish. you can't let kids walk all over you. I only reserve my spanking for my kids (ages 4 & 7) when time-outs and reasoning don't work. I haven't spanked my daughter in over a year. She has learned that if she pushes my buttons, she will get a swat on the rear. Although I do agree that there is a fine line between discipline and abuse... parents should start discipling BEFORE they lose their cool.

eastnashvillenative by eastnashvillenative | Nashville, TN
Jul 08, 2008

I believe that spanking can be a very effective tool. Growing up, the knowledge that I may be spanked made me stop and think twice about my actions. If my only punishment had been to sit in time out and daydream for a few minutes I really don't think that would have had the same effect. I work in a school office and it's absolutely sickening to hear the way kids talk to their parents and teachers. The same ones get in trouble day after day and will look adults in the face and say they know nothing's going to happen to them because all they have to do is call Dept. of Human Services and request an investigation. In school suspension is a free day in a quiet classroom and out of school suspension is a day to sleep late, play video games and roam the streets because Mom/Dad/Granny/Aunt can't take a day off work because they have bills to pay.

interested by interested | Brooklyn, NY
Jun 19, 2008

Most of the "many other studies" Straus cites is seriously flawed. As with most other things, especially behavioral issues, the who how and why of corporal punishment really makes a difference. Most studies ignore those distinctions - in fact, they pretend that there is no difference between constant, objectively physically damaging (ie causing measurable injuries) corporal punishment, which is abusive by any sane standard and occasional spanking. When you see a researcher say about a home where there is the occasional spanking that there is an "atmosphere f violence" you know that you are dealing with someone who has no clue.

On the other hand, anyone who thinks that a parent (or teacher) cannot be abusive without ever hitting a kid is also totally clueless. Oddly enough, many f the same researchers talk about it, but doing their "research" on corporal punishment totally ignore the issue and it's impact.

Aloyse77 by Aloyse77 | Newtown, PA
Jun 18, 2008


Aloyse77 by Aloyse77 | Newtown, PA
Jun 18, 2008

Sexual problems are only from a person searching for their pleasure. You can not blame a spanking for someones issues as an adult. Its just an excusse for your bad behavior, once you realize you made bad choices. It's your life you pick how you will live! Think before you act, the results are all YOUR!

marylsmith88 by marylsmith88 | chattanooga, TN
Jun 08, 2008

**we were raised to not think that sex should be reserved for marriage

sorry for the typo! :)

marylsmith88 by marylsmith88 | chattanooga, TN
Jun 08, 2008

Our generation has been raised that sex is not something that should be honored and should only happen in marriage. From what is on tv to easily accessible birth control pills, unprotected sex is more common than most people will admit.

Unprotected sex rates aren't affected because a child was spanked. It's because birth control pills allow for people to have unprotected sex without worrying about pregnancies.

Theories are great, but most people use theories to blame everyone but the real culprit.

Lusadi by Lusadi | Wasilla, AK
Jun 07, 2008

The problem with any psychological study is that the field as a whole is based in theory and not in fact. They 'think' this could be the cause, but there is rarely solid factual proof to back it up. It has a history of defending the popular view and ignoring the actual.

ladyporsche911 by ladyporsche911 | Hephzibah, GA
Jun 06, 2008

Waaa! Waaa! Sorry, but I don't subscribe to the theory of spanking causes unprotected sex at an early age or obesity! I was spanked rather harshly when I was young and smacked in the face but it didn't cause promiscuity or ignorance nor obesity. It is far too easy to pin the blame on whatever is popular at the moment. I have 3 kids, the only things I vowed never to do was spank when I was angry and face slap. They have turned out fine, okay the last one is still in process (she's 4)! The other 2 are 21 and 26 and as I said are fine. I dare say the so called experts have no children and if they did then they would et just as baffled as the rest of us parents! I am not saying beat the snot out of them, but the occassional whack on the bottom is not going to scar them for life. But on the other hand....opinions are like a..holes, everyone has one!