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?

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thershey by thershey | Hemlock, MI
Jun 05, 2008

I think that a swat is sometimes neccessary,for the benefit of the young child .

cometgirl by cometgirl | Fort Washington, PA
Jun 05, 2008

how valid is this study? Is it retrospective????? The majority of us who've commented have been spanked, myself included and have had no issues or emotional scarring. I have 3 boys and while I try to talk to them when they're misbehaving and use timeouts, sometimes a swat to the rear when appropriate works better. Psychologists (?) are figuring out how damaging our childhoods have been and now with a society of no spanking at all, look at all the disrespect...not in a million years as a child would I call an adult by their first children rarely use Mr. or Mrs. anymore..more violent..etc...yep, they are not spanked and more disrespectful than ever - I'm not advocating we change back to a society of spanking, just that it does have some merit when discretion is used.

Karmacidal by Karmacidal | Anchorage, AK
May 31, 2008

Correlation does not equal causation. That being said, anything done in an inappropriate or to excess will cause harm, be it reward or punishment.

Firm, consistent discipline is necessary to child development and a loving parent that swats their child calmly to reinforce a rule or get their undivided attention is doing their child a favor.

Learning that some actions have unpleasant consequences is crucial to being a responsible adult.

rmhartsell by rmhartsell | Hoover, AL
May 30, 2008

As apart of the "younger generation," ( I am a 24 year old working mom) I can see the difference between people my age who were spanked as children and others who were not.

The disipline that parents give affects the child's whole outlook on authority for their whole lives! If a child is wrong, then they need to be reminded that there is an authority that NOTICES AND CARES. Without that guiding authority, kids run around unchecked, wild, and undisciplined.

Now, as an education administrator, I see young adults in graduate school who think (1) nothing is there fault. (2) everyone in authority is "trying to keep them down." and (3) take no personal accountability whatsoever when they do something wrong.

It has to start somewhere people! If you love your kids, teach them a healthy respect for authority. And if it takes a swat on the rear, then so be it.

May 30, 2008

My oldest is 26 and my youngest is 7 (total of 7 children). I never beat my older kids but they got swats on the bottoms for things that could really hurt them, like playing with outlets or running away from me in a parking lot ect. Since all these "laws and Child research" I must say my younger children have never really been spanked. I was afraid DHS or someone would come if I did. My last three children ages 7, 13 and 15 are more out of controle than their older siblings. They are more sassy and not as respectful to their elders. They seem to be more testing on the limits that are set for them and don't get along together as well as the older 4. My Parents say its just the "times of the world." I say it has a little to do with the way they have been diciplined, too. As for the verse from the Bible Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child. I have always been taught and when I read it as it tells me; If I "SPARE" the rod I will "SPOIL" my child. A spoiled child is not a good thing.

debi_123 by debi_123 | Sylvester, GA
May 29, 2008

Umm Spare the rod spoil the child does not mean to spank more it is speaking of the bible you need to read the scriptures more often. Do you know the prayer Thy Rod and thy Staff Comforts Me. That does not say his belt and staff comforts me. Does it??? I can say that I think I spanked my child twice. One time out of shear terror when she ran out in traffic it was an idiotic reaction. I cried and held her close to me and begged her to never do that again. And one time when I was cut off in traffic she yelled out a racist remark she heard in school; I smacked her; another idiotic reaction. I tried to teach my child life lessons. As in the racist remark I invited my friend over to dinner that night and after dinner we sat in the living room and she talked to my child and explained how that word made her feel. My daughter cried and cried and hugged my friend. When she was young there was always a corner handy and when she got older there was always a privilege we could take away. We always tried to teach life lessons. I truly believe a child lives what they learn. I'm sure you all know that poem. If not goggle it and read it.

josie_mommyof2 by josie_mommyof2 | creighton, MO
May 28, 2008

I personally think that some of these researchers are "grasping at straws". For me, I was beat down as a child! Not just a hand smack on the fanny, but, we're talking a belt, that would sometimes slip out of my fathers hand and I would be beaten with the buckle. This did not make me aggressive, abusive or to have sexual issues. The only thing this taught me, was how not to be towards my own children and it taught me that if I don't learn forgiveness, then I will never get anywhere! Not sexual issues! Like I said, "grasping at straws".

sn0fl8k3 by sn0fl8k3 | San Jose, CA
May 28, 2008

I really don't see how being sexually active, or unprotective sex has anything to do with spanking when they were children. I think its just an excuse, people use. Like I was spanked so that's why I did bad things. It dont' feel like its related at all. I have 2 sisters, both with different parenting technique's. I feel like its the delivery of the punishment, you have to be calm and non agressive. Not angry and out of control. Because 1 sister spanks, and her kids are aweful, spoiled ect. and the other sister doesn't, and her kids are not little terrors like the other two. But then again one set is boy and the other girl

SeaBean by SeaBean | Trappe, MD
May 27, 2008

I don't know how inter-related things are, but I was spanked and I was also sexually active at a young age (which looking back, I regret). I felt distanced from my parents. They also spanked my brother (with a belt sometimes!) and he is now overweight. That body style does not run in our family..everyone else is average or thin. I think the spanking contributed to it. You would never hit another adult you disagree with! Why would you use force with a little child? I've just read Mac Bledsoe's book, "Parenting with Dignity" and it details many responses to toddlers that don't use spanking or yelling. I don't hit my DOGS! I trained them with positive reinforcement (clicker training).

JoeyWallace1978 by JoeyWallace1978 | Bartlett, TX
May 26, 2008


May 26, 2008

I do believe this to be true , now by rerading this.....I was sexually active since 13.

MY parents forced me to go to church , their phyolosophy was spare the rod spoil the kid......

I do not spank my own children for this very reason.

dawn80 by dawn80 | sarasota, FL
May 24, 2008

My boys are 2 and 8 years old and I have twins on the way. I spanked my 8 yr old when he was 6ish and have recently as well but he rarely does anything that would warrant it. My two year old occasionally get a small tap on his still diapered rear and even though it doesn't hurt it's enough to let him know he did something really wrong, like biting his brother. I was spanked as a child and it kept me accountable and honest and rarely did I disrespect authority, and NO I have NOT had sexual issues or deviant behavior. I sometimes think these "researchers" do all their research in prisons and other correctional facilities, then say 45% have serious problems while the other 55% are just not contributing members of society. I just have one thing to say about all this ... Thank you Mom for not letting me get away with bad behavior and keeping me accountable. The discipline I learned from you helped me obtain a Masters degree and become a mom that loves her kids enough to know that without discipline children will lack the guidance they need to get through life.

MisBB33 by MisBB33 | Powhatan Point, OH
May 23, 2008

I belive theres a fine line between a spaking and beating. If a parent can limit them selves and know the limit it can be usefull tool in our dicpline toolbox.

Coco8 by Coco8 | Orlando, FL
May 20, 2008

I have only been spanked maybe once or twice because my mom said I did nothing wrong but the brother and sister did and they turned out alright.I think that there are times when a child is in need of a spanking but I also feel that there are other alternatives such as : restriction to certain activities or playtime or even taking away treats that they really like.

mking22 by mking22 | SAN ANTONIO, TX
May 20, 2008

I agree with Mizzes. I was spanked and don't have sexual issues and wasn't promiscuous. I also never lied again after I got spanked for it. Not quite sure who they are interviewing?

Each to his own though.