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Science Speaks: The Long-Term Negative Effects of Spanking

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Science Speaks: The Long-Term Negative Effects of Spanking

There are some who believe that a firm hand is the only way to provide order in a household. The notion that spanking can steer children in the right direction has been passed down from generation to generation. Although the topic is debated strongly among parents and teachers alike, there is a certain level of skepticism that pervades the idea that physical correction results in a child who is polite and obediently adheres to the rules.

The skepticism that drives many to the conclusion that there has to be a better alternative to corporeal punishment is now backed by science.

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Science shows, in fact, that though spanking can end negative behavior in the short term, the long-term effects do more damage and are less effective than alternative options.

science of spanking
    Graphic via Upworthy

    So just what are the effects of spanking? Can they have a long-term impact on how a child grows into an adult?

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    The effects during childhood are varied but definitively negative and often lead right into adulthood. Spanking has been proven to:

    • Decrease brain function. Some studies have linked spanking to increased memory loss and a lower IQ on test results.
    • Lead to higher depression and anxiety rates in adulthood.
    • Increase the likelihood that they, too, will punish their own children in this way.
    • Increase a child’s aggression level now and later down the road.

    Some parents even use corporeal punishment as a fix to poor grades, instead of actively getting involved in their children’s education. This backfires, however, as spanking directly relates to the active role of the parent, as well as their means for discipline.

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    Alternatives to Corporeal Punishment

    When in the moment of necessary discipline, it can be difficult to know how and when you should apply an alternative technique. The following list shows other punishment options that are not physically harmful.

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    • Time-out. A quiet place for your child to sit and calm down is commonly known as a time-out. It gives the child space to regroup his or her thoughts and feelings, and shows that mom or dad will not give positive attention to negative behavior. It’s often recommended that time-out be as long as one minute for each year of the child’s age.
    • Taking away certain privileges. This alternative allows the consequence of the behavior to be felt when a privilege is removed for the decided-upon duration. This would generally be a favorite toy or novelty item.
    • Discussion. For older children, simply having a discussion about why the behavior is not acceptable can do wonders for preventing the same poor behavior from happening in the future. Younger children tend to not benefit from this alternative as their reasoning skills haven’t quite been fully developed.

    Overall, the research is astoundingly positive that spanking and corporeal punishment are of little benefit to the recipient. In fact, using an alternative method for discipline can result in a child who is more likely to follow rules than if spanking alone were used.

    Featured photo credit: Upworthy via upworthy.com

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