Certain Reasons Why You Should Never Spank Children According to Science

According to The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, “Corporal punishment of children is a violation of their rights to respect for their human dignity and physical integrity. It is widespread legality that breaches their right to equal protection under the law.”

Are you aware that spanking has been outlawed in 53 countries? Yes, perhaps the most complete dissolution of child punishment comes from the United Nations (UN). The global organization consists of 193 countries and determined through the “UN Convention on the Rights of the Child” treaty that corporal treatment (say: spanking, hitting, or any other form) is a violation of human rights.

At present, 53 UN member states have forbidden most natures of corporal violence against children. 56 member states have pledged a commitment to full protection.

However, scientists and mental health experts made a great point that spanking isn’t in the long-term interest of our youngsters.


Detrimental child outcomes

The Journal of Family Psychology contained an article where researchers set out to address two persistent issues which are perhaps the most important being whether the psychological impacts of spanking is comparable with those of physical abuse. To make a concrete conclusion, scientists evaluated more than 100 studies representing over 160,000 children. Out of the 17 standard psychological results of physical abuse, spanking was observed in 13.

An associate Professor of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, Elizabeth Gershoff states: “We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

This implies that spanking didn’t only affect obedience as the punishment also contributed to “increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties.”

You can’t punish out these behaviors

According to science, you can’t punish out the behaviors that you don’t want; therefore, there is no essence of engaging in corporal punishment based on research. Alan Kazdin is a Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University; he states that “spanking is a horrible thing that does not work”. It is studied that physical punishment such as spanking can only be effective in a short time and the reason isn’t farfetched, it is simply because children are scared of being hit. The result just doesn’t last! According to science, the child is unable to alter behaviors following physical punishment.

Are spankers unknowingly feeling a violent streak?

There is a research study published 2011 in Child Abuse and Neglect which concludes that spanking may end up in an “intergenerational cycle of violence in homes” where physical punishment happened. In other words, parents may unknowingly be creating a cycle of physical violence. The researchers of the study interviewed parents and children aged three to seven from over 100 families. In the study, it was concluded that children who are physically punished are liable to embrace physical violence as a means of resolving conflicts with their peers. This made researchers warn against the absence of “immediate negative effects of spanking.”

Popular dissent

Robert Larzelere is an Oklahoma State University professor who specializes in parental discipline, and disagrees with the premise surrounding much of the above mentioned research.

“The studies do not discriminate well between non-abusive and overly severe types of corporal punishment. You get worse outcomes from corporal punishment than from alternative disciplinary techniques only when it is used more severely or as the primary discipline tactic.”  

According to Larzelere and several others people with the same believe, they are proponents of conditional spanking, wherein the act is incorporated into other forms of youth discipline including the temporary restriction of privileges (such as play time), time-bound punishment (timeout), and effective communication between child and parent.


The appropriate methods of youth discipline might be yet to be full a majority consensus. Presently, conservative estimates cite that two out of every three patients in the United States prioritize spanking as a form of discipline.

The most interesting part of the whole argument on both sides is the unanimous agreement that “spanking should not be used as the main source of discipline”.

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