Friday, March 31, 2017

A controversial suggestion: Let's stop hitting children

Good-bye, spanking. Like all types of violence throughout the world, the physical discipline of children is declining.

In the United States, for example, 94 percent of parents endorsed hitting kids in 1968, but only one-half approved by 1999. Similar decreases occurred in countries as diverse as Austria, Sweden, Kuwait, Germany, and New Zealand. (In Sweden, the drop preceded the law against hitting kids.)

Why is this? The author of this Slate article posits that it's due to increased education, specifically education and tactics now more widely disseminated on the most effective ways to parent. This is good, because, lest anyone still think otherwise, we now have reams of evidence that spanking and physical punishment backfires spectacularly.

For example, in The Week from May 13, 2016, it mentions that a new metastudy "has found physical discipline actually makes children more defiant and more likely to have later alcohol, drug, and mental health problems. After examining the findings of 75 studies involving more than 160,000 children, a team of researchers found that children who are routinely disciplined with an open-handed smack on the bottom - a spanking - have behavior problems similar to those of children who are physically abused. In fact, the more kids are spanked, the more likely they are to develop low self-esteem and become aggressive, antisocial, and rebellious, the meta-analysis reveals. "Spanking does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do," the study's co-author says."

The article went on to conclude, "The researchers suggest that parents use non-physical forms of discipline, and rely on positive reinforcement of desirable behavior, which research shows is far more effective than punishment."

Here is a picture of my child, who has never been spanked:

Other sources:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/06/27/the-connections-between-spanking-and-aggression

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/04/spanking.aspx

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-hitting-a-child-as-a-form-of-discipline-considered-a-thing-to-despise-in-the-West/answer/Andrew-Weill

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