Sarah B. Weir, a Yahoo blogger, posted, “Spanking Linked to Mental Illness, Says Study.”
Weir reported, “Researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues as adults.”
However, a post at The Daily Beast written by Po Bronson reveals another side to this issue that people such as Sarah B. Weir may not want you to discover. It turns out that there has been very little research on children that were never spanked, because children who’ve never been spanked aren’t easy to find.
Bronson mentions a study that is still underway called Portraits of American Life. It involves interviews of 2,600 people and their adolescent children every three years for the next 20 years. Dr. Marjorie Gunnoe (see video) working with the first wave of data on teens found that almost a quarter of these teens report they were never spanked.
Dr. Gunnoe’s summary will upset many that are dead set against spanking. The good doctor reported that kids who were never spanked are not any better off in the long term. In addition, Gunnoe discovered those who’d been spanked just when they were young—ages 2 to 6—were doing a little better as teenagers than those who’d never been spanked.
Furthermore, John Weyenberg, writing for Ezine @rticles.com, says, “I believe that spanking children is a viable and sometimes necessary form of discipline. I do not believe in abusing children. I do not equate spanking with abuse. Spanking a child under the wrong conditions and too often can turn into a pattern of abuse. But spanking a child as a very last resort under the following conditions can prove to be beneficial and not harmful.”
I agree with Weyenberg and also suggest that angry parents should never spank a child. If a parent is calm, the odds are he or she will not lose control turning spanking into physical abuse. I spanked my son when he was a child, but I used a paddle and wrote the rules on the paddle that spelled out what earned a spanking such as lying about his homework, because he lied about his homework often. No matter how upset I was, those rules spelled out the exact punishment when all else failed. As a rule, he was also spanked with another adult watching as a witness.
In addition, many studies into the effects of spanking have proven to be highly unreliable because they are largely based on the researcher’s interpretation of children’s behavior. Study bias is a common phenomenon among behavioral studies in which the researchers have a committed position and are required to judge behavior. Source: Religious Tolerance.org
For this reason, Robert Larzelere and his colleagues wanted to see if the link between spanking and antisocial behavior was caused by the children themselves—some kids are more trouble, and they provoke more disciplinary action. The results of the Larzelere study, “In addition to a link between antisocial behavior and spanking, the researchers also found links between antisocial behavior and ‘grounding,’ or punishing kids by taking away their privileges to go out, and antisocial behavior and psychotherapy.”
Then Arthur Whaley discovered that in countries where corporal punishment was commonplace, the link between physical discipline with increased child aggression and anxiety was weaker. Source: Parenting Science.com
This indicates that spanking children may not be harmful where the issue isn’t a controversial hot-button topic that creates an environment where children grow up feeling sorry for themselves because other children and parents send signals that spanking is wrong and abusive when in fact, it often is not.
Studies show that “early emotional experience knits long-lasting patterns into the very fabric of the brain’s neural networks leading to moodiness, irritability, clinical depression, increased negative thinking, negative perceptions of events, etc.” Source: Forgiving Parents: Breaking the Chain of Anger, Resentment and Pain
Does this mean that the loud and vocal anti-spanking lobby is responsible for planting the concept in children that are spanked that they are being abused leading to mental illness as adults? Hmm, if you are a parent that spanks, you may be able to sue that nosey next-door neighbor or teacher that criticizes your parenting methods that may include spanking. Think about it—it is called programming a response.
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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga.
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