Do Not Spank Your Children

For years, people have debated whether the punishment of children works, whether they fix their behaviors without having negative consequences in the long run. The scourge is a form of discipline. Do spanking kids work?

An article published in the July/August issue of the American psychologist concludes that the physical punishment of children (including spanking) is ineffective, and most importantly, is detrimental — it results in behavioral and mental health problems. 1

Let us begin by discussing the meaning of punishment before examining the findings of the review of the scourged children.


Physical punishment refers to the use of physical force intended to cause discomfort or pain, thus reducing the likelihood of a particular behavior. Punishment includes hitting with hands or with a tool (like a leash or a stick), but also more general types of violent actions such as kick, burn, etc.

A common form of physical punishment to modify the behaviors of children is the scourge, which involves hitting the buttocks with an open hand (often repeatedly).

The scourge is a common form of discipline. A 2012 study involving more than 11,000 American families and their kindergartens showed that more than 80% of mothers whip their children. In fact, when mothers were asked if they had beaten their children the week before the interview, almost 30% said yes. 2

Convictions about beating

Why do parents hit their kids? Maybe because they really believe that the beating is effective, or because, as children, they were also beaten.

But it has been shown that the beating is correlated with riots, criminals or aggressive acts in children; These, in turn, often result in more whipping, contributing to a vicious circle. 2

The belief that spanking is effective is not only limited to people without a broad knowledge of psychology. As the authors of this paper note, a survey of 2016 of more than 800 members of the American Psychological Association found that 30% did not believe that the beating was detrimental to children, and 17% did not consider defeating a problematic way of disciplining a child. In fact, 14% advised parents that they were their clients to use floggings from time to time. 1

Spanking experiences?

So where is the evidence that the beating is really damaging? One of the difficulties in showing that beating is detrimental is that, like the authors of this Notes document, the realization of a real experience in the beating is unethical.

A real experiment on the spanking would require almost the impossible and certainly the unethical: the random selection of pregnant mothers, the random allocation of half of them to the condition of flogging their children and the other half to a condition of non-whipping ( To serve as controls), so that we can determine the effects (both short and long-term) of the children who whip.

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