One of the most ancient practices of keeping your children in check is, of course, to spank them. There’s nothing that a few slaps over the butt can’t fix in a naughty child, or at least that’s what parents have been led to believe for centuries. But as expected, that’s completely and utterly wrong.
According to a new study published the Journal of Family Psychology, spanking children leads to future behavioral problems, as well as to conditions with which the child will be struggling for the rest of their life. As natural as it may have seemed in the past, spanking should definitely be on its way out.
The team of researchers performed the longest and most extensive study on spanking to date. Even though similar findings have been reported before, no previous tests were so accurate, focused on so long a time period, or even focused on just spanking and no other forms of physical punishment.
Sadly, the results speak for themselves. Spanking a child as punishment for what they did most certainly does not teach them the difference between right and wrong, it does not teach them to behave immediately nor in the future, and it definitely doesn’t raise compliance. What it does do is much worse.
First of all, spanking leads to disassociated anxiety and contextual fears all throughout the future adult’s life. It is also associated with increased aggression, varying degrees of delinquent behaviors, very high levels of anxiety and depression, not to mention a tendency to spread the misery, as children who are spanked also tend to spank their own kids.
Regardless of the fact that similar results have been published for at least a couple of decades, reports claim that as many as eighty percent of the world’s children are spanked or otherwise physically punished . So why is it that people are still physically punishing their kids despite all signs showing that it only spreads misery?
Well, it’s quite simple actually – it’s because of tradition. It’s because of what we were taught as children. The lead author of the study, associate professor of human development and family sciences with the University of Texas at Austin Elizabeth T. Gershoff, has a few things to say to those claiming that they got spanked as children and ended up being OK:
First, we turned out OK because our parents did other things, like sat us down at the kitchen table and talked to us and gave us reasons why they wanted to see us behave. We turned out OK in spite of spanking, not because of it.
Second, when I was a child, there were no seat belts in cars. Do I think I turned out OK because my parents didn’t put me in a seat belt? No. I think I turned out because we didn’t get in an accident.
Now that we know exactly how much harm spanking your children can do on the long-term, we might start pursuing laws that prohibit hitting them. Just like it became illegal to hit women after so much time of inequality, it should also become illegal to raise your children with violence when talking is a far more effective technique.
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