It's Official: Smacking Makes Kids More Aggressive and Badly Behaved

Health & Wellness on 02.09.12
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Given that I don't believe obedience should be the prime goal of parenting; that I am skeptical when politicians say smacking would reduce youth violence; and that I believe positive reinforcement is infinitely more valuable than punitive criticism, it is probably no surprise that I am 100% against smacking children under any circumstance.

Luckily for me, it seems I have science on my side. Because as Deborah Kotz of the Boston Globe reports, the latest review of research on the impact of spanking on kids - published in the Canadian Medical Journal - shows overwhelmingly that spanking leads to nothing but trouble:

“The findings have been very consistent over the past 20 years,” said study author Joan Durrant, a psychologist at the University of Manitoba. “Physical punishment predicts only negative long-term outcomes.”

Besides increased aggression, spanking increases the likelihood of depression, anxiety, and even cheating and criminal behaviors when the child becomes an adult. It also weakens the parent-child bond so “parents have less influence in setting an example of morally correct behavior,” said Murray Straus, a University of New Hampshire sociologist who has been studying spanking for more than 20 years.

Michelle Duggar has written a great piece on how praise and encouragement beats spanking and punishment, and I couldn't agree more. Resorting to violence is usually a sign that reason has failed. But what kind of message does that send to our kids? Just because we're bigger and more powerful does not give us the right to hurt, assault or intimidate our children. It's as simple as that.The consequences are just too dire.

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