Spanking may be far more common than you think

May 1, 2014

Spanking of children by their parents is far more common than parents admit, according to a study of real-time audio recordings of parent–child interactions in the home.

 

Spanking of children by their parents is far more common than parents admit, according to a study of real-time audio recordings of parent–child interactions in the home.

In fact, although previous studies indicate that children living in households that employ corporal punishment are hit about 18 times per year, this latest study reveals that children are hit up to 18 times a week, according to Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, where lead study author and parenting and child development expert George W. Holden is professor, Department of Psychology.

Spanking also doesn’t seem to be effective because children in the study misbehaved again within 10 minutes of the punishment in about three-quarters of the incidents.

The study also found that children are frequently hit for trivial misdeeds; that they are frequently struck more than twice; that parents often are not calm when they strike; and that parents often hit or spank only 30 seconds after an infraction. All of this is contrary to so-called corporal punishment guidelines that stipulate that parents should be calm; should spank no more than twice and as a last resort after other approaches have been tried; and should reserve the punishment for serious infractions.

According to the researchers, the youngest child hit was 7 months old. One mother hit her child 11 consecutive times.

The study involved 33 mothers who agreed to wear digital audio recorders for up to 6 evenings. This yielded a total of 41 incidents of corporal punishment occurring during 22 parent–child exchanges in 15 families.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that physical punishment “is the least effective way to discipline,” that it can “result in physical harm,” and that “it is harmful emotionally to both parent and child.” 

 

 

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