The PediaBlog has considered spanking an ineffective, dangerous, and ultimately counterproductive form of discipline for children:
Spanking doesn’t work as a deterrent to bad behavior. In fact, it sends the wrong message: “It’s OK for me (parent, teacher, peer) to hurt you (child); to put fear into you; to demean and humiliate you.” There is nothing right about that message. Nothing. Spanking is bullying, plain and simple. And readers of this blog know that bullying is never right, always wrong, and completely unacceptable.
A new 10-year study involving 1,900 children and families finds that spanking is pretty common: 28% of mothers reported spanking in the first year of life, increasing to 57% by age three, then staying at about 50% thereafter. Dennis Thompson warns of a “vicious cycle” of misbehaving and spanking:
Researchers wanted to resolve the age-old “chicken-and-egg” question that surrounds the issue of physical discipline in childhood — do spankings promote aggression in children, or do naturally aggressive children simply receive more spankings as parents try to control their behavior?
The answer is yes to both, said study author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City.
Across a child’s first decade of life, current spankings will lead to future misbehavior — but current misbehavior also will lead to future spankings, the investigators found.
“You can think of it as an escalating arms race, where the parent gets more coercive and the child gets more aggressive, and they get locked into this cycle,” MacKenzie said. “These processes can get started really early, and when they do there’s a lot of continuity over time.”