Is there a place for spanking? Experts and 50 years of research say no

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Fred Roeder, Jr. 18-months, of Ridgewood, Long Island, learns the hard way about refusing his food. His mother applies a hairbrush on his backside. April, 1937 (ACME)
Fred Roeder, Jr. 18-months, of Ridgewood, Long Island, learns the hard way about refusing his food. His mother applies a hairbrush on his backside. April, 1937 (ACME)

Fred Roeder, Jr. 18-months, of Ridgewood, Long Island, learns the hard way about refusing his food. His mother applies a hairbrush on his backside. April, 1937 (ACME)

We wrote about a new study that looked at 50 years of research that found that spanking causes emotional problems similar to abuse. The research was done by Elizabeth Gershoff, a University of Texas associate professor of human development and family sciences and the University of Michigan. You can read that story here.

And yet, Pew research study found that 45 percent of American parents have spanked a child.

Like many of us, I grew up in a loving household where my mom regularly chased us with a Ping-Pong paddle, a wooden spoon or whatever painful object that she could find at the time we angered her. The ridiculous thing about spanking was we didn’t learn a thing except to run faster than Mom and head for your room. Effectively, she was giving us a time0ut, but got us there by us running away from her Ping-Pong paddle. That, of course, was the 1970s and ’80s.

My kids have grown up in the 2000s and 2010s. I have to say, at some point in their toddler years, I tried out spanking and then remembered why it didn’t work for my mother. Fear was momentary. It didn’t make them ultimately change their behavior and the look of betrayal wasn’t one I’d like to see again.

What I want to hear from you is do you regularly use spanking and how do you use it? When is it effective and when is it not effective? And as an adult of a child who was spanked, do you still have any lingering feelings about that?


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