The Plain Truth

The Plain Truth
God's Hand Behind the News

Monday, January 18, 2010

A spanked child may be a better adult: study

Young children spanked by their parents may perform better at school later on and grow up to be happier, according to a controversial new study that is drawing scorn from critics.

The U.S.-based research states that spanking children up to six years old made them more successful in school, more optimistic about life, more likely to take voluntary work, and more keen to attend university than their never-spanked counterparts.

The findings were drawn from interviews of more than 2,600 people, including a core group of 179 teenagers. The teens were asked how old they were when they were spanked and how often it happened. Their answers were compared with information they gave about their behaviour that could have been influenced by smacking.

Lead researcher Marjorie Gunnoe, a psychology professor at Michigan's Calvin College, said her research is not a green light for parents to spank their children, but rather a red light for those groups who want corporal punishment banned.

"There isn't enough evidence that kids who are not spanked look better than kids who are spanked," said Prof. Gunnoe, a mother of two children (she has spanked only one). "Some need the extra deterrent ... for young children, the external motivator is more effective."

However this latest research, which Prof. Gunnoe admitted was previously rejected by two professional journals, including the Journal of Family Psychology, contradicts other findings that spanking is counterproductive.

Dr. Diane Sacks, former president of the Canadian Paediatric Society, says research has proven that spanking, whether short or long-term, leads to "bad, physical behaviour."

"Many studies show that when children are spanked in order to teach, they don't learn," said Dr. Sacks, a pediatrician with 35 years experience. "When afraid, children learn poorly. Fear is a very bad teacher."

Instead, Dr. Sacks suggests non-physical methods to control the child. Time-outs, keeping the child out of the situation, or a firm "no" are much better forms of discipline.

Grant Wilson, president of the Canadian Children's Rights Council, suggested that the study's results may have been influenced by Calvin College's Christian affiliation, adding that some religious groups have opposed abolition of corporal punishment.

"People get confused over what discipline is -- it's not hitting children," Mr. Wilson said. "There are better methods of parenting rather than hitting.... It's not OK to hit children."

The spanking study had Prof. Gunnoe interviewing teenagers between ages 12 and 18. Their answers to a questionnaire about their childhood discipline was compared with their current behaviour, possibly affected by spanking. These measures covered topics around good behaviour such as academic aspirations, doing well in school and optimism for the future. The bad outcomes included violence, depression and anti-social behaviour.

Teenagers who had been spanked between ages two to six performed slightly better on the positive behaviors, but no worse on the negative measures than those who had never been spanked, the study found.

Only the teenagers who were still being spankYoung children spanked by their parents may perform better at school later on and grow up to be happier, according to a controversial new study that is drawing scorn from critics.

The U.S.-based research states that spanking children up to six years old made them more successful in school, more optimistic about life, more likely to take voluntary work, and more keen to attend university than their never-spanked counterparts.

The findings were drawn from interviews of more than 2,600 people, including a core group of 179 teenagers. The teens were asked how old they were when they were spanked and how often it happened. Their answers were compared with information they gave about their behaviour that could have been influenced by smacking.

Lead researcher Marjorie Gunnoe, a psychology professor at Michigan's Calvin College, said her research is not a green light for parents to spank their children, but rather a red light for those groups who want corporal punishment banned.

"There isn't enough evidence that kids who are not spanked look better than kids who are spanked," said Prof. Gunnoe, a mother of two children [she has spanked only one]. "Some need the extra deterrent ... for young children, the external motivator is more effective."

However this latest research, which Prof. Gunnoe admitted was previously rejected by two professional journals, including the Journal of Family Psychology, contradicts other findings that spanking is counterproductive.

Dr. Diane Sacks, former president of the Canadian Paediatric Society, says research has proven that spanking, whether short or long-term, leads to "bad, physical behaviour."

"Many studies show that when children are spanked in order to teach, they don't learn," said Dr. Sacks, a pediatrician with 35 years experience. "When afraid, children learn poorly. Fear is a very bad teacher."

Instead, Dr. Sacks suggests non-physical methods to control the child. Time-outs, keeping the child out of the situation, or a firm "no" are much better forms of discipline.

Grant Wilson, president of the Canadian Children's Rights Council, suggested that the study's results may have been influenced by Calvin College's Christian affiliation, adding that some religious groups have opposed abolition of corporal punishment.

"People get confused over what discipline is -- it's not hitting children," Mr. Wilson said. "There are better methods of parenting rather than hitting.... It's not OK to hit children."

The spanking study had Prof. Gunnoe interviewing teenagers between ages 12 and 18. Their answers to a questionnaire about their childhood discipline was compared with their current behaviour, possibly affected by spanking. These measures covered topics around good behaviour such as academic aspirations, doing well in school and optimism for the future. The bad outcomes included violence, depression and anti-social behaviour.

Teenagers who had been spanked between ages two to six performed slightly better on the positive behaviors, but no worse on the negative measures than those who had never been spanked, the study found.

Only the teenagers who were still being spanked showed clear behavioural problems, receiving the worst scores.

However, the results were less clear for the teenagers spanked between ages seven to 11. Against the never-spanked group, they scored slightly worse on the negative behaviours, being more prone to violence and anti-social behaviour. But they also scored well on the positive measures.

The study also compared teenagers from different ethnic groups and genders, but found little difference between them.ed showed clear behavioural problems, receiving the worst scores.

However, the results were less clear for the teenagers spanked between ages seven to 11. Against the never-spanked group, they scored slightly worse on the negative behaviours, being more prone to violence and anti-social behaviour. But they also scored well on the positive measures.

The study also compared teenagers from different ethnic groups and genders, but found little difference between them.

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