American Academy of Pediatrics Says No More Spanking or Harsh Verbal Discipline
Many of the major medical journals have come to resemble the global warming literature, with its low level of scholarship and determination to push an ideological agenda. It is quite depressing. Anyway, the latest heap of crap is below. I follow the official pronunciamento with the abstract of the only study they refer to in support of their claims. So I will confine my comments to that study.
The study is a typical Leftist bit of over-simplification that totally ignores individual differences. All men are equal so everybody must have the same disciplinary regime, apparently. The idea that what works for one kid may not work for another cannot be entertained. My father never laid a hand on me and I never laid a hand on my son but that doesn't persuade me into thinking that you can bring up all kids that way. Some kids really "try it on" and need some sort of physical discipline to enforce guidelines. I remember a dear little boy who was a real horror in his very permissive home but who was always an angel at my place because I once twisted his ear.
Just talking to defiant kids they despise. They think you are weak. Without discipline they will almost certainly go into some sort of crime later on in life. The little boy I mentioned above had a very rough teenagerhood but he eventually learned to follow the rules and is now doing very well. Luckily he was quite bright.
So the averages may be as reported below but what was behind the averages is far more important. Clearly, some kids received discipline but still came out OK but we are told nothing about them.
Moreover, it was only the father’s high-frequency spanking at age 5 that was associated with less desirable outcomes. What about lower frequency spanking? That was apparently OK. So, if you read the details in the article, spanking seems to be no problem. It is only "high frequency" spanking that should be deplored. What a laugh! As is so often the case in science, the authors concluded what they wanted to conclude -- rather than what their results show. I saw that frequently in my research career.
The largest professional organization for US pediatricians is taking a strict stance against parents, caregivers, and other adults using spanking, hitting, or slapping to discipline children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released an updated policy statement on corporal punishment—the first major revise since 1998—based on accumulating evidence that physical punishments don’t work in the long-term and could even cause unintended harms. The policy also recommends against verbal discipline that causes shame or humiliation.
Robert Sege, MD, PhD, the policy’s coauthor and a pediatrician at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, recently spoke with JAMA about the AAP’s position on corporal punishment and how physicians can help parents discipline more safely and effectively. The following is an edited version of that conversation.
JAMA:What’s the AAP’s new policy on corporal punishment?
Dr Sege:First, parents should not use corporal punishment, including hitting and spanking, either in anger or as punishment. And, also, they shouldn’t use verbal punishment that causes shame or humiliation.
JAMA:What’s different about this policy statement?
Dr Sege:The 1998 statement discouraged parents from spanking their children and suggested that pediatricians help parents not to spank their children, but it was a little wishy-washy. What’s happened in the 20 years since then is that the data has really been overwhelming about how corporal punishment is ineffective and how it’s potentially risky. Parenting is a very personal thing and, of course, parents make their own decisions about how they want to raise their children. Our feeling at the American Academy of Pediatrics is that the role of doctors is to give parents the best evidence-informed guidance that we possibly can with which to make their decisions. And all of what we know says parents should never hit their children.
JAMA:What do recent studies tell us about the effectiveness of spanking and other physical discipline?
Dr Sege:A meta-analysis of a large number of studies showed that corporal punishment doesn’t work. It doesn’t cause children to change their own behavior, certainly not in the medium- or long-term. There were small studies that had mediocre study quality that showed that there’s a temporary change in a child’s behavior. But, of course, what parents want is to change the children’s behavior over the longer-term.
JAMA:What do we know about the consequences of corporal punishment on children?
Dr Sege:There are 3 main kinds of consequences. The first is that it increases their aggressive behavior and causes them more problems in school and with their parents. In the largest study of its kind—a longitudinal study that followed children over several years—children who were spanked had more problematic and aggressive behavior [later]. Corporal punishment often led to a vicious cycle, where the children became more oppositional as they experienced corporal punishment, causing their behavior to get worse. [The association between spanking and higher levels of aggression and rule-breaking remained after child and family characteristics were controlled for, including earlier behavior problems and mother’s parenting stress.]
Spanking and Child Development Across the First Decade of Life
Michael J. MacKenzie et al.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the prevalence of maternal and paternal spanking of children at 3 and 5 years of age and the associations between spanking and children’s externalizing behavior and receptive vocabulary through age 9.
METHODS: The Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study, a longitudinal birth cohort study of children in 20 medium to large US cities, was used. Parental reports of spanking were assessed at age 3 and 5, along with child externalizing behavior and receptive vocabulary at age 9 (N = 1933). The data set also included an extensive set of child and family controls (including earlier measures of the child outcomes).
RESULTS: Overall, 57% of mothers and 40% of fathers engaged in spanking when children were age 3, and 52% of mothers and 33% of fathers engaged in spanking at age 5. Maternal spanking at age 5, even at low levels, was associated with higher levels of child externalizing behavior at age 9, even after an array of risks and earlier child behavior were controlled for. Father’s high-frequency spanking at age 5 was associated with lower child receptive vocabulary scores at age 9.
CONCLUSIONS: Spanking remains a typical rearing experience for American children. These results demonstrate negative effects of spanking on child behavioral and cognitive development in a longitudinal sample from birth through 9 years of age.