There are many polarizing topics in the parenting community, and whether or not spanking your kid is an acceptable form of punishment is definitely one of them. But recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) attempted to settle the debate once and for all in an official statement.
"Aversive disciplinary strategies, including all forms of corporal punishment and yelling at or shaming children, are minimally effective in the short-term and not effective in the long-term," said the statement. "With new evidence, researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk of negative behavioural, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children."
According to a 2016 survey, only 6 percent of 787 pediatricians in the US had "positive attitudes" toward spanking, and only 2.5 percent of those doctors "expect positive outcomes from spanking."
Pediatricians point to decades of research to prove that not only is spanking ineffective in terms of improving children's behaviour, it can also have negative consequences for kids down the line.
"With new evidence, researchers link corporal punishment to an increased risk of negative behavioural, cognitive, psychosocial, and emotional outcomes for children."
For example, The Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, which analysed 5,000 children ages 1-, 3-, 5-, and 9-years-old from 20 US cities between 1998 to 2000, found that kids who were spanked more than twice a month at age 3 were more aggressive by age 5. Moreover, a follow-up study discovered that kids who were spanked at 5-years-old were more likely to show worse behaviour and have a lower vocabulary by the time they turned 9.
Although that research is certainly convincing, experts at the AAP also considered meta-analysis that showed that there is no physical benefit from corporal punishment in the long run, which means spanking is, in general, an utterly ineffective form of discipline.
Lastly, the AAP pointed to a 1998 study that found a link between "spanking children and subsequent adverse outcomes" for children. The AAP has determined that corporal punishment may have the following "consequences:"
- Kids who get spanked under the age of 18 months have a higher risk of being physically injured.
- Frequent corporal punishment may cause children to be more aggressive — especially preschoolers and school-age kids — and strain the parent-child relationship.
- Getting spanked makes it more likely children will be defiant and aggressive in the future.
- Children who receive corporal punishment are more likely to suffer from mental disorders.
- Spanking is associated with adverse outcomes that are similar to those in children who get physically abused.
Ultimately, the AAP recommends parents use alternate "healthy" forms of discipline with children, such as "positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviours, setting limits, redirecting, and setting future expectations" rather than spanking, shaming, humiliating, slapping, or insulting kids.