Effects of spanking--A brief summary
By Melanie Killen, May 31, 2000
My analysis of the literature on this topic has led me to conclude that spanking:
  1. distracts children from focusing on the nature of the misdeed --instead it refocuses them on the pain inflicted thereby reducing the possibility that children will understand why their act was wrong
  2. prevents the situation from becoming a learning/teaching situation because the child now focuses on the pain inflicted instead of the nature of the misdeed
  3. often increases humiliation in the child
  4. often lowers self esteem
  5. provides a confusing message to the child because one transgression (inflicting harm on another person) is dealt with by the same transgression (inflicting harm on another person)
  6. exaggerates the unilateral nature of the adult-child relationship and diminishes the reciprocal nature--so important for moral development
  7. inhibits the opportunity to teach the child what makes an act wrong by removing them from the situation
  8. turns the child from instigator to victim thereby altering the roles in the situation and making it more complicated.
A review article by Grusec and Goodnow (1994) in Developmental Psychology on parenting discipline techniques covers much of these issues.

Melanie Killen
Dept. of Human Development
University of Maryland, College Park
College Park, MD 20742-1131

Phone: 301.405.3176
FAX: 301.405.2891

For a comprehensive examination of this issue, see RESEARCH AND INFORMED EXPERT OPINION   Experts cited: American Academy of Pediatrics, E. Barker, D. Bakan, A. Einstein, H. Falk, I. Hyman, T. Gordon, P. Greven, W. Grier & P. Cobbs, A. Haeuser, A. Maurer, K. Menninger, A. Montagu, A. Miller, J. Prescott, B. Spock, M. Straus, R. Welsh, and others. (56 files)

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