As reported by the American College of Pediatricians, “Research on Disciplinary Spanking is Misleading.”
In recent years, some medical organizations and many media outlets have claimed that disciplinary spanking causes emotional harm in children that predisposes them to aggressive behavior when they are older. Although parents sometimes misuse or over-use spanking, does science really show that ordinary spanking of persistently disobedient children causes irreparable harm? The answer may be found by examining the quality of the research behind this claim.
It turns out that most research against spanking uses methods so flawed that such studies would be rejected if they were being used to halt a medical procedure, such as chemotherapy for combating cancer. The anti-spanking research suffers from three major fallacies or defects that invalidate its conclusions. These flaws are evident in a recent summary of research on spanking by Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff and her colleague, Dr. Andrew Grogan-Kaylor.1 This publication is an update to Dr. Gershoff’s previous meta-analysis that summarized decades of spanking research,2 and which is the source cited most often by anti-spanking proponents.3