The latest research into using corporal punishment on kids
I’ve covered all aspects of the spanking debate — legal, ethical and practical. But one idea I’ve never bought for a minute is that spanking is a discipline “tool,” a reasoned, measured way of teaching children a lesson when nothing else will do. Now a study proves I’m right.
Researchers at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, recorded mother-preschooler interactions (only one dad in this study) in their homes. The purpose was to study parental yelling, but the researchers became more interested in the slaps and whacks they heard on the recordings. About one-third of the parents analyzed so far (data crunching is still in progress) hit, slapped or spanked their children over the course of the six evenings. In most cases, it was just once, although one family rang up 11 different incidents.
That parents were caught hitting kids is not surprising. We already know that many adults believe the occasional spank, slap or swat has its place in child discipline. There are even some parents who don’t believe in it, yet still hit their kids the odd time. What’s compelling about this study is that it shed light on the messy truth of why and how parents swat their kids.