Psychologist Alan Kazdin, the director of the Yale Parenting Center and former president of the American Psychological Association, has admonished that spanking is “a horrible thing that does not work.” It predicts later academic and health problems: Adults who were spanked as children “regularly die at a younger age of cancer, heart disease, and respiratory illnesses.”If the fear of robbing one’s child of years of life were not enough, this month two more studies added to the pile finding that childhood spanking has negative effects on the people we later become.In the extremely depressing journal , researcher Julie Ma and colleagues found that spanking was associated with later aggressive behavior.As much as two-thirds of abuse begins as an attempts to change children’s behavior, to “teach them a lesson.”Temple’s team at Texas isn’t the first to link spanking and later relationship violence, but it is the first to control for other forms of child abuse.He was influenced by one of the pivotal works in spank-theory discourse, a 2002 meta-analysis by Elizabeth Thompson Gershoff (who is now also at the University of Texas, a geographically unlikely hotbed of resistance to corporal punishment).“If a kid is having a temper tantrum and throwing things, and then next time they have a tantrum but don’t throw anything, say ‘I’m really glad you didn't throw anything.’”The other evidence-based approach he recommends is taking something positive away.For younger children, that can mean taking away a toy temporarily.“Child abuse” is overdramatic and it lumps the practice in with the most vicious, high-level malice.“Corporal punishment,” as it’s known internationally, can feel too academic.)Many researchers tend to see corporal punishment and physical abuse as part of a continuum.
One of the few memories that many people retain from early childhood is times they were spanked.
The desire to believe it was “for our own good” is strong, if only because the alternative interpretation is bleak.
It’s in the face of personal experiences like these that science has been flailing for generations.
Ma has previously linked spanking to later antisocial behavior, anxiety, and depression.
Then last week That one struck a chord in light of the national conversation about sexual harassment.