Pro and Cons of Spanking

By Erica Loop
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To spank or not to spank, that is the question on many parents' minds. Fifty-seven percent of moms and 40 percent of dads reported spanking their children at age 3, according to a Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study in the American Academy of Pediatrics' journal "Pediatrics." While these statistics show the prevalence of spanking, the cons to using this form of discipline far outweigh the pros when it comes to long-lasting consequences.

Pro Controversy

Whether to spank a child or not isn't just a controversy among parents. Professionals in the health and child development fields are also often at odds in terms of using this technique to turn around bad behaviors. Most professionals don't recommend spanking and feel that there are no pros to its use. Research on the subject increasingly shows that spanking is harmful and poses major risks, according to the American Psychological Association article "The Case Against Spanking."

Aggressive Actions

Spanking isn't just a momentary act of aggression. Using this form of discipline may result in the parent's aggression transferring to the child. When children are spanked during the early years they are more likely to act out aggressively later on, according to the AAP. In a study of 2,500 mothers, those who used spanking as a form of punishment had children who were more aggressive at age 5 than mothers who used other forms of discipline, the AAP notes.

Ineffective Effects

Lashing out in a moment of anger isn't likely to make your little one change his behavior. Spanking may temporarily stop a child from acting out of misbehaving, but it won't make him turn his attitude around. Young children typically can't mentally connect the spanking and changing their behaviors, according to the KidsHealth. This renders physical punishment an ineffective form of discipline. Instead of understanding that he's done something "wrong," the spanked child only feels pain and shame.

Harm and Human Rights

The act of spanking isn't just a form of discipline. It's an assault that can cause mental and physical harm. The negative effects of spanking are serious enough that the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child called this type of punishment "legalized violence," according to the APA. World-wide, 30 countries have put a ban on spanking in the home and at school to preserve the right of children and stop this damaging violence.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.