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Spare The Rod, Spoil The Anti-Social Aggression

Irregular Times has written for decades about the evidence that the corporal punishment is an unnecessary, ineffective and harmful method for the discipline of children. The evidence indicating against spanking, and other forms of corporal punishment, has long been clear.

Politicians seeking to establish a public image of toughness have continued to defend corporal punishment. It seems ridiculous, but they have been effective in building a political base of support for themselves by insisting that America’s problems wouldn’t be so bad if adults simply hit children more often. The extent to which politicians are afraid of the political implications of opposition to the corporal punishment of children is indicated by the number of U.S. Representatives who support H.R. 2268, a bill that would prohibit corporal punishment of children by teachers in public schools. Only 15 members of the U.S. House have endorsed the bill, out of a total House membership of well over 400.

A new piece of meta-research, published in the latest issue of the Journal of Family Psychology this week, adds to the body of evidence that corporal punishment is harmful to children. The study found that the more often children are spanked, the more likely they are to continue to defy their parents in the short term, and to exhibit anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems, and cognitive difficulties in the long term. The study screened out violent parental behaviors, examining spanking only, so it can’t be said that a minority of extremely abusive behaviors skewed the data.

Will this study begin to turn the tide of opinion in the United States? I wish it would, but it probably won’t. The study also found that people who are spanked as children are more likely to spank their own children, and to approve of spanking by other people. Corporal punishment perpetuates a culture of violence that persists from generation to generation, resistant to the influence of reason.

18 thoughts on “Spare The Rod, Spoil The Anti-Social Aggression”

  1. ella says:

    There are studies on both sides of this issue and both are valid. It has been demonstrated in school systems that have no authority to physically control children who trend toward violence, for whatever reason, will engage in that trait. When parents are not trained in a manner to control children in a peaceful manner, or not able to redirect a child’s violent nature, that same trait will carry over in the classroom. The result in many cases is the child drops out, whether corporal punishment is used or not. Is the problem then the spanking or the lack of educational training through the generations in how to raise children? Can humans of any age restrain their temper when thwarted? Are the reasons for temper being addressed in the public schools? Is that the place to address the personal issues that cause the temper. And are there physical reasons involved. It is a very complicated subject, not so easily solved with a simple law. Should children with violence and emotional issues have the service of being tested on the school campus, for brain problems (diet, tumors, developmental), physical issues (illnesses, psychological or physical), hormonal problems, or family issues? Actions that have very real, factual reasons for occurring. Or is a child simply confused by the change in social environment between home and school? Are these the issues that both parents and instructors should be concerned with? But are they? Do instructors care about any more than getting through the lesson for the day? Some do, they are natural teachers. That is what is needed in the schools. Not cranked out scholastic providers that do a days work and do not have the natural tendency to provide information to their students who all are different in some way.

    1. J. Clifford says:

      No, Ella. There are not studies on both sides of this issue. I defy you to identify one serious academic study that shows evidence of a benefit of corporate punishment. I have looked. There is not any such study. The meta-research that this article refers to didn’t just look at one study. It statistically analyzed all of them for the pattern across the studies as a whole. This analysis did NOT show studies on both sides. You have just attempted to make up a fake fact that does not exist in order to justify violence against children. That’s unethical. Knock it off.

      1. ella says:

        ” There are not studies on both sides of this issue. I defy you to identify one serious academic study that shows evidence of a benefit of corporate punishment. I have looked.” J Clifford

        I really do not doubt that you have looked online and found few or no studies on the positive side of control in the classrooms. They exist I promise you. However there are still a few articles that take a look back before prayer was taken out of the public schools and “socialist” instruction was formally instituted. These cover some pro and con positions. Please, let us not get into the argument of political change effecting the public school system.

        But I agree that abusing children is 100% wrong. One child might be taken away from a mother that spanks him/her one time. And yet another whole family of children have been abused until one of them dies and nothing is done. Those children need someplace to feel safe. And the schools have done a lot to help abused children through the past several years, but there was a loss of discipline in the classrooms to the point some teachers were afraid to walk to and from classes alone. There are problems both ways.

        1. J Clifford says:


          The article by Brian Wilson that you cite is NOT a study. It is an expression of OPINION by Brian Wilson, beginning with the following idea: That when scientific studies suggest something opposite to Mr. Wilson’s opinions, he will simply choose to ignore those studies and cite “common sense” as a justification for hitting children.

          Wilson writes, “This article presents an argument on the benefits of corporal punishment. Despite myriad complaints and studies suggesting the contrary, common sense dictates that corporal punishment should work.” This is not science. It’s anti-science. It’s purposeful ignorance.

          You keep on saying things without having any evidence whatsoever to support your ideas.

          I have cited evidence that corporal punishment CAUSES the aggressive anti-social problems you complain about. You keep on pretending that LACK of corporal punishment causes these problems, but cannot find a single piece of scientific research to support that position.

          Please don’t expect me to take your irrational affection for hitting children as a reasonable position. It’s just plain wrong – factually and ethically.

          1. ella says:

            “You keep on saying things without having any evidence whatsoever to support your ideas. ” J Clifford

            It is well known that many pages of research and facts have been removed from non academic web viewing. Much that has been cited since I began reading here is no longer as easily available on search engines. It could be that some opinions are better than others – researchers included. But this is yet another tact that you won’t easily find on the internet. Child aggression. How many times have you noticed that children, about the age of 2, become aggressive? Have you noticed that children are being given personality altering drugs to control their behavior? Particularly in the schools. Little “Johnny” is too active, or too curious, or too aggressive. Children have brains that need to be altered to make them compliant in our society. Isn’t that the case, J Clifford? There will be no need for corporal punishment in the schools, thereby exposing teacher to the unnecessary stress of parenting, which is not in the job description. Drugs solve everything. Especially later in the work market.

          2. Jim Cook says:

            All anecdotes. Anyone can search academic research at, and most public libraries can get academic research articles for you through interlibrary loan.

          3. ella says:

            “All anecdotes. Anyone can search academic research at, …” Jim Cook

            Thank you Jim Cook, I needed help on where to look. Most libraries won’t send research email though. Before you ask, no I don’t drive – home bound for the most part.
            This is an old study most commonly remembered on the predominance of male aggression in early childhood as well as later:
            And this study shows support of corporal punishment as a religious bias. What I noticed about it is that it is based on the Old Testament. A problem with some denominations of Christianity is that they do not accept the teachings of Christ and the New Testament. Even though Christ did say He came to keep the laws, not change them. The cited verses do not fall under “the law”. And the teachings say “spare the rod and spoil the child”. Not emotionally beat, harass, torture, and otherwise abuse the child. Much wrong has been done in the name of God.

          4. Jim Cook says:

            Thanks for sharing these links, Ella, but notably neither study indicates that hitting kids leads to positive results.

          5. J Clifford says:

            Do you have any actual evidence – statistically rigorous research – that the abolition of corporal punishment in schools is positively associated with the use of mind-altering drugs on children – or are you just making that up?

            It doesn’t take that much work to find research… if it exists. Look, I’ll give you an example.

            You mentioned drug use. I found a study of the correlation between corporal punishment of people as children in otherwise non-dysfunctional families, and found within 120 seconds a study in the journal Pediatrics that concludes, on the basis of a statistical analysis of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, that, “Harsh physical punishment was associated with increased odds of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse/dependence, and several personality disorders after adjusting for sociodemographic variables and family history of dysfunction.”

            To write my quick summary of the study took another 120 seconds. See? It’s not hard – if there is actually any evidence supporting your assertions.

            Now it’s your turn. You go. Find me one actual piece of research that supports your opinions and conjectures… or admit that you’re pretty much just guessing.

          6. ella says:

            Thank you Jim Cook for the research site URL. After doing some looking at what is available today, J Clifford, I would say that any research to be found would be prior to 1950. And since that was when this type of research essentially began, there is very little chance of finding any such research supporting corporal punishment in the schools, or in the home for that matter. Since there is a flood of popular research available today for the lack of punishment, I would say that Dr. Spock is back in style. It is not worth it to me to go any further. As to the drug studies, those will not be publicly available as they were used to learn how to control the children. Just call any local doctor and tell him your child won’t sit still in school.

          7. ella says:

            You can read a brief at this link that is inconclusive, but it is an older study 1991, for ADHD students.

            “More worrying, researchers from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, have highlighted the heavy pharmaceutical influence in the research and clinical management of CBD. In a report of the conflicts of interest in this area, they described the public exposure of Harvard child psychiatrist Joseph Biederman, a prominent supporter of the CBD diagnosis and a key advocate of powerful antipsychotic drugs as treatment.” a quote

            It was a very sensitive topic over 20 years ago and appears to still be. I did make comments based on memories of over 20 years ago. What is rememberd is vivid, but many details are no longer present. There has been, of course, continuing work with children. Obviously, I did not approve of the manner in which it was done at the past time, but I would not approve of grave robbers for body research either.

          8. Jim Cook says:

            But neither of these pertains to corporal punishment or demonstrates its effectiveness.

          9. ella says:

            TO be honest, this is not a subject that I can, just for funnies, put my heart into. Even my replies show that I do not, in fact strenuously oppose, physical ‘punishment’ for school children. Studies are not based on real life circumstances, rather on known conditions which cause certain behavior. For that, I believe they are skewed. They do mention parental ignorance of conditions, and maybe some consider random physical contact required by momentary circumstances. i.e., having to quickly, roughly pull a child away from fire, or any other danger. I believe that one can go to extremes when considering everyday circumstances. Example: When a young person points a gun at a teacher and students, do you now say that physical action is detrimental? Does it matter what the underlying cause is – at that moment? Students and teachers have died. None of those schools practiced corporal punishment.

          10. J Clifford says:

            Ella, that’s just plain wrong. These studies are of real people, dealing with real life circumstances. They don’t take place with people raised in laboratories.

            Can you show me a legitimate source for your claim that NONE of of the schools where people have been shot with guns practiced corporal punishment? I can’t find any source that verifies that information. Where did you hear this?

          11. ella says:

            I am amazed at how many school shooting there have been since 2000. It is easier to list the states that have banned corporal punishment and year:
            Nebraska – 1988
            Connecticut – 1989
            Michigan – 1989
            California – 1986
            Pennsylvania – 2005
            New York – 1985
            Virginia – 1989
            Wisconsin – 1988
            Maryland – 1993
            New Jersey – 1967
            Ohio – 1994
            Minnesota – 1991
            Illinois – 1993
            Oregon – 1989
            Nevada – 1993
            Vermont – 1985
            West Virginia – 1994
            Washington (state) – 1993
            Massachusetts – 1971
            Washington D.C. – 1930
            Now you can match the school location with the states that have banned corporal punishment to obtain a percentage of non-corporal punishment schools and other statistics.

          12. J Clifford says:

            So, in other words, you CAN’T find any sources to back up your claim that ZERO shootings have taken place in schools that use corporal punishment.

          13. ella says:

            You will have to do the research yourself, I am truly busy right now. I do learn a lot through these conversations though.

          14. Jim Cook says:

            After you looked at the research literature for “funnies” and didn’t find support for your position, you changed the subject and moved the goalposts. Just saying.

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