Spanking does not improve child behaviour, study finds

(Photo: The conversation)

Dear parents, you may want to think twice before using a belt to spank your child, throwing an object, or slapping the child in the name of discipline. According to a study published in the journal Lancet, you’re doing your child more harm than good.

The review of 69 studies from the US, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom found that physical punishment is “harmful to children’s development and well-being.”

And no, it is not referring to severe physical punishments that would be considered physical abuse.

“Parents hit their children because they think doing so will improve their behavior,” said senior author Elizabeth Gershoff, a professor in human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

She added; “unfortunately for parents who hit, our research found clear and compelling evidence that physical punishment does not improve children’s behavior and instead makes it worse.”

Although some studies in the review found positive results to physical punishment, the majority of the studies found their results to be negative.

In fact, according to Gershoff the most consistent finding 13 of 19 independent studies, was that spanking and other forms of child punishment created more external problem behaviors over time such as “increased aggression, increased antisocial behavior, and increased disruptive behavior in school.”

Additionally, acting out by children who were physically punished occurred no matter the child’s sex, race, or ethnicity, the review found.