Personal question: were you ever spanked as a child? Chances are, you probably were. According to a Harris Poll published in 2013, a whopping 9 in 10 adults reported that they were spanked as children. But, what makes these findings even more intriguing is the fact that a majority of today’s adults don’t seem to see any issues with spanking–in fact, 4 out of 5 support the form of physical punishment.
Now, whatever camp you may be in, it’s important to recognize one, very important scientific fact: spanking might be a short-term fix, but in the long-term, it could do much more harm than good. It might seem like a grandiose statement, but there is a very significant set of findings that back this up.
In a sweeping, international study published in the public health journal, BMJ Open, we learn the power that this form of punishment has on growing minds and bodies.
The report, which is entitled “Corporal Punishment Bans and Physical Fighting in Adolescents: An Ecological Study of 88 Countries,” serves to “examine the association between corporal punishment bans and youth violence at an international level.”
In their work, researchers took a close look at the populations from countries that have instituted corporal punishment bans, bans that include spanking, hitting, and other kinds of physical punishment. Upon collecting wide sets of data over a number of years, the researchers determined that the societies who have enacted these protective restrictions are actually much safer as a whole.
Lead study author, Frank Elgar, an associate professor in the Institute of Health and Policy at Montréal’s McGill University, says that this study is “one of the largest cross-national analyses of youth violence” ever conducted. This means that, prior to the publishing of this report, pediatricians, psychologists, and other behavioral health professionals didn’t necessarily have the evidence to back up their suspicions that forms of corporal punishment, including spanking, are harmful to the child and society.
Out of the 88 countries surveyed, 30 had full corporal punishment bans, 38 had partial bans (this includes the United States), and 20 had no bans. Researchers found that “boys in countries with a full ban showed 69% the rate of fighting found in countries with no ban” and girls exhibited a “42% the rate of fighting found in countries with no ban.”
And, what makes the findings even more interesting is that status seems to have no bearing on the results. “Bans and levels of youth violence had no relationship to the wealth of a country,” Elgar said. “Some very low-income countries happen to be quite peaceful, while some richer nations, such as the US, UK and Canada, didn’t fare as well.”
The results show quite a remarkable trend–violence on a whole is lessened in the countries that have made a commitment to ending corporal punishment both at home and at school.
Something to consider, especially if you want your kiddos to grow up in a more peaceful world. They deserve it!
What are your thoughts on this corporal punishment study? Do you practice corporal punishment? Do the study’s results sway your opinion at all?