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The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behaviour.

According to meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan, the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties..

The study, published in this month’s Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

“We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”

“The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” Grogan-Kaylor says.

“We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline,” said Gershoff.

Not really surprising. I think this is something we are all fairly aware of these days.

Getting down to your child’s level and speaking quietly seems to have more of a shock factor than a spanking. Or just take away screen time.

Share your comments below.

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  • One smack is all it should take, ever. Then a look is enough – and you have to be consistent. If you say No to something you cannot change your mind.

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  • mine are scared of a smack!

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  • I’ve never hit my son.

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  • I don’t believe in smacking. There are so many better options in my opinion

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  • We don’t believe in smacking either. It’s also a very bad example when you want to teach your child not to hit other children then don’t hit yourself…
    We take away screen time, loose a reward or give them lines to write

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  • I was not against smacking. Smacking….not bashing. I have noted that some people think you smack because YOU are angry or upset…thats not a good reason to smack. I would only smack if my child had done something that had put their or someone elses life at risk, if they had teased another child or done something super bad.
    I was discussing this with my youngest child just last night in fact and she asked me what she had done when she was a child that had made me angry. I couldnt think of a single thing and she told me that she cant ever remember me being angry or mad with her. She said that I would always talk calmly to her and when I would say things like “I think its time you cleaned your room” she would always think that she best do it because she never wanted to see me angry. And she never has. She said I had never smacked her although I felt that perhaps I might have but seriously couldnt think of when or why so perhaps shes right.
    I wasnt against smacking….I just didnt have to use it.

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  • I couldn’t ever imagine spanking my children no matter how upset or angry I get. I would imagine spanking just normalises physical reactions to a situation and aggression. I find that time outs work well for us and agree that speaking at their level is effective.

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  • I’ve always been against smacking children, my kids never got smacked and have turned out to be well adjusted adults

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  • I still can’t comprehend why someone would hit a child or even an adult.

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  • I have never believed in smacking.

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  • My parents in desperation sometimes confiscated one of our favourite toys, the worse the behaviour was the longer before we got them back. We always had a couple of warnings / reminders and explanations why it wasn’t allowed. As we got older we often received a warning the first time. No warnings after about 10 y.o.

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  • I am absolutely against spanking. And I believe in what they say about spanked kids showing more anti-social behaviour.

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  • Kind of goes without saying – and who hits their kids these days anyway?

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  • Did a study really need to be conducted to work this out?

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  • I think taking away screw time works a lot better with my kids.

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