March 23, 2009
Yet another "study" by a long-time anti-spanking researcher has been released by an anti-spanking advocacy group. Not surprisingly, the study is anti-spanking. Ironically, though, the research did not focus on spanking at all, but on "physical punishment." The study explicitly lumps together words like "spank," "slap," "beat," "punch," and "whip," treating them as if they are all the same thing. There is a huge difference between the ordinary disciplinary spanking practiced by most parents and all these other forms of "physical punishment," which can more easily be abusive. Defining the issue this way makes the study useless for identifying the actual impact of "spanking" as such. The key both to the effectiveness of parental discipline (including spanking) and its effect on the child (whether positive or negative) lies in how the discipline is undertaken in its larger context, not simply what disciplinary tool is used. Studies have actually shown that a disciplinary style that balances firm control (including spanking) with positive encouragement results in the best outcomes for children. It's clear that the long-term goal of these anti-spanking zealots is a legal ban on all spanking that would treat it as "assault" and a "human rights violation." This is an intrusion into parental rights that Americans should not tolerate.
Arizona Republic report on new study of "physical punishment"
"Spare the Rod? The Research Challenges Spanking Critics," by Den Trumbull, M.D. and S. DuBose Ravenel, M.D.