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.