The Case Against Spanking
Yesterday I shared with you 14 studies that made the case for spanking. Today I will discuss the 15 studies that make a case against spanking. Here, in brief, is what they said:
When parents spank their children, there is a higher rate of psychological reactance (that is, rebellion), more aggression, a greater tendency to solve problems with violence, and to engage in antisocial behaviors. There is a greater incidence in adulthood of anxiety and depression. There was a correlation between abuse and spanking (abusive parents were more likely to spank, not that spanking parents were more likely to be abusive). Infants who are spanked are more likely to be injured. The effect is greatest when the parent spanks impulsively and when they use an object, though negative outcomes were observed even when controlling for that.
Again, for those of you who are crazy like me, I have included summaries of each of the studies below. The number in parentheses is the link number at pubmed. Search for "spanking". Tomorrow we will put all the research together and attempt to come up with consensus.
1992 (102) - 169 adults were given a Narcissism test and a psychological reactance test. "Persons who were more narcissistic tended to score higher in reactance and had fathers who used monetary rewards more and encouraged independence to a greater extent. These results are contrary to those expected from Kernberg's and Kohut's views linking narcissism to less nurturance by parents. Higher psychological reactance scores correlated with less praise, more scolding, and more verbal abuse from both parents. Psychological reactance scores also correlated with more spanking by fathers and with their being described as being less fair. These results suggest that punitive disciplinary styles are not related to narcissism but are to psychological reactance."
1994 (99) - "Seventeen Hispanic elementary schoolboys with violent behavior problems were compared with 27 matched control students who were not overtly violent at school. Violent boys were significantly more likely to not live with their fathers, to have unmarried parents, to have more siblings, and to have fathers who never show them affection. Parents of violent boys were more likely than those of matched control students to use spanking for discipline and to admit that they rarely express affection for their sons."
1995 (95) - "Fifty-two Hispanic mothers attending an urban hospital clinic were given a questionnaire. Behavior problem scores were significantly related to the use of yelling and hitting/spanking as methods of discipline. Precarious health status and low enrollment in preschool programs also were reported."
1997 (84) - A longitudinal study of 807 6-9 year olds showed that, "Forty-four percent of the mothers reported spanking their children during the week prior to the study and they spanked them an average of 2.1 times that week. The more spanking at the start of the period, the higher the level of ASB 2 years later. The change is unlikely to be owing to the child's tendency toward ASB or to confounding with demographic characteristics or with parental deficiency in other key aspects of socialization because those variables were statistically controlled."
1998 (79) - The study followed 993 mothers of children aged 2-14. The study showed that, "the more CP experienced by the child, the greater the tendency for the child to engage in ASB and to act impulsively. These relationships hold even after controlling for family socioeconomic status, the age and sex of the child, nurturance by the mother, and the level of noncorporal interventions by the mother. There were also significant interaction effects of CP with impulsiveness by the mother. When CP was carried out impulsively, it was most strongly related to child impulsiveness and ASB; when CP was done when the mother was under control, the relationship to child behavior problems was reduced but still present."
1999 (75) - A survey of 9953 residents of Ontario 15 years or older found that, "[a]mong the respondents without a history of physical or sexual abuse during childhood, those who reported being slapped or spanked "often" or "sometimes" had significantly higher lifetime rates of anxiety disorders [...], alcohol abuse or dependence [...] and one or more externalizing problems[...], compared with those who reported "never" being slapped or spanked. There was also an association between a history of slapping or spanking and major depression, but it was not statistically significant[...]."
2000 (73) - "Parents of 631 behaviorally disruptive children described the extent to which they experienced warm and involved interactions with their children and the extent to which their discipline strategies were inconsistent and punitive and involved spanking and physical aggression. As expected from a developmental perspective, parenting practices that included punitive interactions were associated with elevated rates of all child disruptive behavior problems. Low levels of warm involvement were particularly characteristic of parents of children who showed elevated levels of oppositional behaviors. Physically aggressive parenting was linked more specifically with child aggression. In general, parenting practices contributed more to the prediction of oppositional and aggressive behavior problems than to hyperactive behavior problems, and parenting influences were fairly consistent across ethnic groups and sex."
2003 (45) - "We show here that subtle forms of maltreatment during infancy (below 1 year of age) have potential consequences for the functioning of the child's adrenocortical response system. Infants who received frequent corporal punishment (e.g., spanking) showed high hormonal reactivity to stress (a repeated separation from mother, combined with the presence of a stranger). In addition, infants who experienced frequent emotional withdrawal by their mothers (either as a result of maternal depression, or mother's strategic use of withdrawal as a control tactic) showed elevated baseline levels of cortisol. It was suggested that there are hormonal "costs" when mothers show response patterns (intentionally or unintentionally) that limit their utility as a means of buffering the child against stress. The hormonal responses shown by infants may alter the functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis in ways that, if continued, may foster risk for immune disorders, sensitization to later stress, cognitive deficits, and social-emotional problems."
2004 (39) - The study followed 1966 babies from 0 to 24 months for 4 years. This is another study that found a difference between blacks and whites: "White non-Hispanic children who were spanked more frequently before age 2 were substantially more likely to have behavior problems after entry into school, controlling for other factors. For Hispanic and black children, associations between spanking frequency and behavior problems were not statistically significant and were not consistent across outcome measures."
2006 (34) - This was a longitudinal study of about 5000 infants (0 - 12 months) from mostly single parent homes. The study found that "Multivariate regression analyses revealed two significant independent risk factors [for infant injury in the first year of life], maternal alcohol use [...] and mother spanking child in the previous month."
2008 (19) - A telephone survey of women with children under 18 years old revealed that, "Mothers who report that the child was spanked are 2.7 [...] times more likely to report abuse. Increases in the frequency of reported spanking in the last year are also associated with increased odds of abuse [...]. Mothers reporting spanking with an object are at markedly increased odds of reporting abuse [...]."
2009 (14) - The study followed 2573 toddlers aged 1-3. "Both spanking and verbal punishment varied by maternal race/ethnicity. Child fussiness at age 1 predicted spanking and verbal punishment at all 3 ages. Cross-lagged path analyses indicated that spanking (but not verbal punishment) at age 1 predicted child aggressive behavior problems at age 2 and lower Bayley mental development scores at age 3. Neither child aggressive behavior problems nor Bayley scores predicted later spanking or verbal punishment. In some instances, maternal race/ethnicity and/or emotional responsiveness moderated the effects of spanking and verbal punishment on child outcomes."
2010 (9) - The study followed 2461 3-year-olds until they were 5 years old. The study found that " Frequent use of CP (ie, mother's use of spanking more than twice in the previous month) when the child was 3 years of age was associated with increased risk for higher levels of child aggression when the child was 5 years of age [...], even with controlling for the child's level of aggression at age 3 and the aforementioned potential confounding factors and key demographic features [ including maternal child physical maltreatment, psychological maltreatment, and neglect, intimate partner aggression victimization, stress, depression, substance use, and consideration of abortion]." (Remember the pro-spanking study from yesterday that showed that moderate spanking was up to 5 times a day? It's all in how you run the numbers....)
2010 (4) - In 102 families with children aged 3-7, "[c]hildren whose parents approved of and used CP were more likely to endorse hitting as a strategy for resolving interpersonal conflicts with peers and siblings. Frequent spanking was the strongest predictor of children's acceptance of aggressive problem solving, above and beyond parental acceptance, parental experience of CP, and familial demographics."
2010 (2) - The study found that in a sample of 1997 3-year-olds, "[O]f couples who reported any family aggression (87%), 54% reported that both CP and IPAV occurred. The most prevalent patterns of co-occurrence involved both parents as aggressors either toward each other (ie, bilateral IPAV) or toward the child. The presence of bilateral IPAV essentially doubled the odds that 1 or both parents would use CP, even after controlling for potential confounders such as parenting stress, depression, and alcohol or other drug use. Of the 5 patterns of co-occurring family aggression assessed, the "single aggressor" model, in which only 1 parent aggressed in the family, received the least amount of empirical support."
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The Case Against Spanking