This is Stupid: Canadian Study Says Spanking Kids Can Cause Long-Term Harm.
I don’t spank my kids. Mostly because I don’t have to. Other forms of discipline work for them thus far. But I’ve never ruled it out of my parenting toolbox. If one of my children refused to respond to other forms of discipline, I would try spanking.
That is, unless I believe a new Canadian study that says spanking kids can cause long-term developmental damage and may even lower a child's IQ. And just so we are clear, I don’t believe this study.
The study, published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, reached its conclusion after examining 20 years of published research on the issue. So this is research based on research??
The authors, with the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, say the medical findings have been largely overlooked and overshadowed by concerns that parents should have the right to determine how their children are disciplined. They cite research showing that physical punishment makes children more aggressive and anti-social—which is interesting because when I see a kid in the supermarket cursing out his mother, kicking her repeatedly in the leg and knocking over store displays, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Yep, that mother is probably spanking that child!” Don’t you?
No. In fact, we think just the opposite.
The study also said spanking can cause cognitive impairment and developmental difficulties. Recent studies suggest it may reduce the brain's grey matter in areas relevant to intelligence testing, the study’s authors said.
"What people have realized is that physical punishment doesn't only predict aggression consistently, it also predicts internalizing kinds of difficulties, like depression and substance use," said Durant.
Wow. Seriously, these are the kind of broad generalizations and leaps of academic faith that have made us all doubt “studies.” I’ve only dabbled in the academic research world but even I know that correlation does not equal causation. Maybe these kids were sitting in front of the TV watching The Simpsons for hours every day, that’s likely to be more impactful on their aggressiveness than an occasional spanking.
Meanwhile, every day we are told one study says do this to make your child smart, eat this to lower cholesterol, another says eat that to lower blood pressure, another says eat nothing to live longer—we are in study overload to the point where we are confused, tuned out and more likely to believe other sources than so-called “studies” from our academic brain(fart) trusts.
One of these other sources is called reality. Not the TV version. The real life examples of real people we know and love.
For example, I was raised in a home were spanking occurred. My mother or father would lovingly sit us down, explain why we were going to get spanked (it had to be a doosie!), tell you it was because they loved you and lead you to the spanking area. Afterward, they hugged you and told you they loved you again.
In first grade, my IQ tested so high, I was shipped across town to the gifted school. Throughout my elementary, junior high and high schools years I won several district and city-wide spelling bees, storytelling contests and tennis tournaments. All while being raised in a home where spanking took place. I attended New York University and later graduate school at Columbia University, with nary a trace of the “developmental difficulties and cognitive impairment” that should have come from being spanked as a child. Perhaps I masked it with the substance use I was supposed to develop.
At the end of the day, I am glad my parents used spanking as one of, not their only, corrective tool. I believe I am a better person for it. Spanking can be effective and even necessary for some kids.
Which brings me to my final point. The fundamental problem with these studies is that nobody defines what spanking is. Are we talking about a few pops on the butt of a toddler? A few licks of the belt on the bottom of a big kid? Or are we talking about beating a defenseless child to an extreme? I’m sure we don’t need to spend any money on studies to prove that the latter is not good for any child or parent.