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New Study Reveals Concrete Effects of Spanking on Children’s Personalities

By Bridget Tyler on April 13th, 2010

There’s been a lot of debate about the merits of spanking over the last fifty years, but a new study is providing some hard data about the results of spanking on developing personalities. The study at Tulane University observed the development of almost 2,500 children.  Those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 proved to be much more likely to be aggressive by age 5.

Though this isn’t the first study of the affects of corporal punishment on children, the Tulane study is the first to attempt to control and compensate for many of the environmental variables that might muddy their attempt to prove a causal link between spanking and development.  The study, led by Catherine Taylor, accounted for things like neglect by the mother, violence or aggression between the parents, maternal stress and depression, maternal substance abuse and even whether the child’s mother considered abortion while pregnant with the child being studied.

While all of those environmental factors contributed to the children’s aggressive behavior by the age of 5, the connection between spanking and aggression remained strong, even after those factors had been accounted for. “The odds of a child being more aggressive by age 5 if he had been spanked more than twice in the month before the study began increased by 50%,” says Taylor.  Because her study was so thorough in accounting for other variables, its results allow researchers to confidently state that, “it’s not just that children who are more aggressive are more likely to be spanked.”

This thoroughness gives the study real weight in what is often a very subjective and sensitive conversation.  ”I’m excited by the idea that there is now some nice hard data that can back up clinicians when they share their caution with parents against using corporal punishment,” says Dr. Jayne Singer, clinical director of the child and parent program at Children’s Hospital Boston, who was not involved in the study.

Children in the study who were spanked proved to be more defiant, more easily frustrated and more demanding of instant satisfaction of wants and needs.  Singer suggests that the reason for that may be that spanking is effective because it installs fear, rather than understanding of why a particular behavior shouldn’t continue.  It also models aggression as a solution to problems.  Singer recommends time outs as a good way to help children understand why a behavior is wrong and eventually correct the behavior.  Explaining the reason for the punishment, then forcing a little quiet time to calm down and reflect, may take more repetition and energy in the short run, but in the long run it produces more effective results.

  • Doug Pearce

    Can’t wait for the study linking corporal punishment to alcohol and substance abuse.

  • frank blanchard

    This is bogus. Spare the rod and spoil the child. Were these 2500 children raised in a christian home? Or were they spanked by violent adults without any kindness?

  • Morgan

    I wonder if they studied how the parents handled the situation with spanking. Was it in public, which causes humiliation? DID the parent explain what the child had done wrong to deserve punishment? Seems like a time out could be ineffective if done incorrectly as well. And I personally don’t think it’s the spanking that makes a child aggressive, it’s how the parent handles the discipline. When parents spank for some offense that they didn’t outline as punishable, that’s confusing for a child. If it’s done in a humiliating factor, if it’s done with the parent obviously showing anger, etc. Perhaps parents should take a time out prior to disciplining the child to overcome THEIR anger/reaction, to formulate the best way to discipline (time out or spanking) and to develop the proper explanation for why their behavior was wrong and why they are suffering the consequences.

  • Heather

    I ABSOLUTELY agree w/ what Morgan says. I think it has to do w/ the context, not just the fact that the child was spanked.

  • Rob Martin

    Frank, when the dictates of the Bible are contradicted by actual science, well, an awful lot of us are going to stick with the science. As for your question, it’s pretty foolish if you think about it, unless you want to believe the study carefully selected “violent adults without any kindness.”

    It’s likely that many, if not most, were raised in Chritian households, since there are more Christians than any other religion in the US. Furthermore, if you’d read the whole article, you’d have seen that “the Tulane study is the first to attempt to control and compensate for many of the environmental variables that might muddy their attempt to prove a causal link between spanking and development.”

    So unless you have some actual *science* to back up your claim the study is “bogus,” perhaps you’d do better to be quiet while the grownups are talking, hm?

  • James Dunn

    Aggressive, can be a good thing in check. I was spanked, I didn’t run up the isles in a diner, annoying other people. If I acted up, I was marched into the rest room and came back to the table, sobbing, biting my lip. So how did I turn out? I am aggressive in working hard, I work for a TV show as an editor and I am married to a successful, loving lawyer and she is pregnant with twins whom I’ll spank when needed..

  • jason

    I do not beat/spank my children, there are other ways.”Spare the rod and spoil the child” is a sad statement that people will use to abuse.

  • Nuex

    not spanking leads to entitlement and we have concrete proof of that in today’s society. There’s always 2 sides

  • cndnflyr

    “…spanking is effective because it installs fear, rather than understanding of why a particular behavior shouldn’t continue. It also models aggression as a solution to problems.”

    I think the people who conducted the study were very liberal with what the call spanking. Spanking by itself and out of anger is obviously abusive, but if it’s coupled with a talking the “problem” over with the child and teaching, then it works well. Sometimes the severity of the problem cannot be comprehended by the child with a mere timeout. I repeat, sometimes, not always, but sometimes…

  • Spanked but not Angry

    They forgot the second half of spanking… INSTRUCTION!

    You can’t spank your child and expect them to know why it happened and what to learn from it.

    If they are taking this from the people I see everyday half hanging their child by one arm and whooping them on the butt in the grocery store and yelling at them… yea of course it will make an angry child.

    Proper punishment includes instruction and love.. that’s what this study completely left out.

  • Hank Croak

    Children in the study who were spanked proved to be more defiant, more easily frustrated and more demanding of instant satisfaction of wants and needs.

    Like many have said was there any kindness, because i have 3 kids that are defient as hell. Never spanked a say in their lives. All studies can be slanted toward the result you want. Look at Global Warming…

  • michael

    So is this now a pre-exsisting condition to ALL mental illness in five year olds. Did they see what age the parents or sperm donors were?? 12 or 13?? Where does the $$$ come from to run these studies, and what company is backing them. I’ll take a chunk, I think I’m gonna look at the connection between kids that eat scambled eggs as opposed to fried eggs to determine if they like chunky peanut butter or not.

  • Boo

    Haha typical academic crock.

    These dopes obviously don’t have children of their own. Get my 3 year old to “reflect” by putting her in Time Out?


  • But Busted quite a bit growning up

    I was busted on the tail end many times growing up.. I was not aggressive, I was being bad. Kids need to know that their actions have consequences. Just as the people in time out do.. I wonder if Madoff was spanked or was he given a time out.. I spank my children today when they do something wrong, and I explain why they were getting spanked. They are not aggressive either, matter of a fact when we are out in public, they behave extremely well.

  • rob

    I disagree, the agressive child was agressive anyway and that’s why they were spanked. The kids are so much werse than they use to be and it’s affecting the whole world. All because spanking has stopped for the most part. Killing and robbery and drugs in school, where when they use to spank, there were none, not in school, and fear do make the kids think. They think of what they done wrong and believe me, they won’t do it again or anything else you tell them not to do.

  • whole-heartedly disagree w/ this bunk

    This is the 5th consecutive article by different writers being “pushed heavily” by google and it’s accomplices to attempt to brain-wash people into buying this b.s. study with absolutely no foundational proof. Buy this crap just like your buying obama’s socialist movement in the name of change.

  • http://com Jason

    The researcher is biased. Wants to make evidence to support anti spanking crowd. Notice how nothing is mentioned about slight use and infrequent spanking not delivered out of anger.

    Small children that figure out your only tool of punishment is negotiation will ignore you! Ignore your time out demands and laugh at your hour of reflection. Those tools only work on kids that don’t need a spanking.

  • Nestor Presas

    The author should have explained more clearly what form of “agression” was the study measuring. Since appropriate levels of aggression can actually enhance success in society, be helpful to the person and be clearly adaptive. One has to conclude that without an adequate understanding of that definition this study was measuring the net result may be to actually encourage parents not to forget to include a little spanking in their reaing practices.(!?)
    The main reason not to spank your children is because of the experience; not even one child will remember positively the time when they became the target of their parent’s violence.

  • Brett

    Could it be that a kid who needed to be spanked multiple times by the age of three could have a disposition of defiance already? – nature or nuture argument rehash. I say Michael has the most reasonable statement by recommending that we follow the money in this study, as well as every ’scientific study’.

  • CommanderBill

    Having raised three children to highly successful adults I think this is a bit of a simplification. My daughter was sensitive and was never spanked. Verbal reprimand always sufficed in her case. The two boys were willful and at early ages where given a tap on the rump. By three they learned the redemptive power of push ups and exercise. Both sons are aggressive successes with no notable psychological issues. My experience is you have to judge the individual circumstances and do what the incidents and personalities merit. No spanking ever is unworkable to a willful young boy as is spanking on all occasions. There are no absolutes when it comes to child development.

  • Clean Living

    Why can’t studies be done by the people writing the comments? Makes more sense to have a thinking mind asking the real questions and real world experience.

  • Doug Reynolds

    Maybe the kids with the aggressive independent personalities got spanked in the first place?
    Correlation is not causation.

  • Roger

    These people are kidding right?
    Any moron can see the difference in society from the spanking days to this new age morally bereft pop culture world we are in now.
    America was a lot better place without the drugs, alcohol, permiscuity and immorality.
    The bible says “Spare the Rod, spoil the child”
    I’ll stick with that study … I have it on high athority that God is smarter than this fool.

  • aaron

    I have to Agree with Morgan, if spanking is done correctly say in an attitude of Love and not in a fit rage. This type of discipline is not only proper but biblical. The parents must keep their own attitudes in check, be aware of there enviorment. and keep their word. if they promised a spanking the next time, make sure you go through with, even if was hours later. remember to explain what they did wrong in an attitude of love. If you are a christian even give your child scriptures why they must be spanked. This will help them to relate and discern the diffence between right and rebellion. I’ve seen children be taken aside to a bathroom out of public, disciplined in love and it was refreshing for everyone around

  • Mike Oxmaul

    Ok so as a kid my parents used to spank me (aka break wooden spoons on my ass, use belts, ect.) If they didn’t I would think that I would be a totally different person. I was a bad kid always running around the neighborhood causing trouble. If I was just sent to time out. I would have never learned and then gotten even more rebellious as a teenager. If you don’t discipline your children they will not respect you or your rules.

  • Missing the point

    @frank blanchard

    “Spare the rod and spoil the child”

    This is why Christians get a bad name – quality misquoting from the bible, usually followed up with quality misinterpretation by the quoter.

    The rod is the sign of discipline – smacking is a method of ‘implementing’ discipline, but for some reason the it is more common than not seen as the same thing.

    The truth is the responsibility for demonstrating discipline falls on the leader/parent. But instead smacking is given in its place. Why are we surprised when kids take an adverse reaction to this treatment?


    What level of reflection are you expecting from a 3 year old? I know my 3 year old is physically aware enough to cause trouble but not mentally/emotionally aware enough to appreciate the true impact of it.

    I think this research shows that in today’s society where families are so regularly broken up, when the adults themselves suffer heavily from social and emotional afflictions, and where we conveniently disconnect ourselves from our children as we need, sending them to the child minder from 9 to 5; it is counter productive to discipline through smacking. It is not producing the results we expect.

    We need to take time to reflect on our own actions before we expect our 3 year olds to do so.

  • JP

    Did it occur to anyone that the children were spanked because they were “more defiant, more easily frustrated and more demanding of instant satisfaction of wants and needs” in the first place? Obviously I do not condone abusive behavior from a parent in any circumstance. In the favor of spanking as a disciplinary tool, I think that sometimes there is no other way to reach some children to get them to stop unacceptable behavior.

  • bubba

    For those that use the Bible as a guide, there are probably also directions on how to discipline your slaves. (and your wife too…)

  • Missing the point

    @Roger – Any moron can see that spanking or the apparent lack of it, can not be isolated as a single cause or solution to society’s current plight. Again, nice misquote.

  • Get your facts straight

    “Spare the rod, spoil the child” ISN’T in the bible! It is actually a quote from a poem.

  • FredianoB

    More politics masking itself as pseudo science. I especially liked the reassurances that the researchers hadn’t mixed cause and effect.

    “We checked our work, and don’t worry, we’re right.”

    Do ’soft scientists’ have even a passing acquaintance with calibratable, reproducible, independently verifiable scientific methods, or is it all like this ‘we ran an experiment, checked our own results, and here is what we say we know?’

    Aka, Feynman’s ‘Cargo Cult’ science, politics all dressed up in lab coats.

  • Missing the point

    Kids want love. They want attention. The are made for those things. Deprive them of that life blood and you have problems. Its like anything else in life – if you dont have food you go looking for it – and more often than not you will eat unhealthy food as a result.

  • Jimmy

    I love these comments… god forbid this study might actually be correct… how many of you who commented actually finished reading the whole article? I ask, because many of your points where actually controlled for in the study. But who cares about statistics…
    spanking = easy way out

  • Missing the point

    I was smacked as a kid. As a result I never felt I could ever live up to what was expected of me. I never felt able to be a male role model. I was scared to make an effort for fear of failure. And for all those who have religious considerations in this discussion – it utterly DAMAGED my understanding of God.

  • Anthony

    I am not a psychologist, so my opinion is “unqualified”. However, have they considered that the results of their study actually show not a cause of the increase in aggressive behavior, but a symptom that those who showed to be more aggressive just warranted more frequent spankings when they were younger? In other words, those same children were spanked more often because they were more aggressive to begin with. Food for thought.

  • Jimmy

    “…Because her study was so thorough in accounting for other variables, its results allow researchers to confidently state that, “it’s not just that children who are more aggressive are more likely to be spanked…”

    In the end this is just a study, those who do will ignore it, those who don’t will use it in their arguments.

  • Missing the point

    By saying that the kids already had aggressive tendencies in the first place – are we not saying that the frequent spankings are in relation to a behavior that was already present. So in other words “its not the parents’ fault – the kids were already that way – they had it coming – they in effect are the ones responsible for the frequency since if they didn’t have the aggression they wouldn’t be spanked?” It doesn’t matter how the kid behaves in the first place – what matters is how the parent responds

  • Brett

    It seems as though those who are so against spanking children are of the opinion that those of us who are in favor of it use it on a daily basis, or at least weekly.

    From the article: “The odds of a child being more aggressive by age 5 if he had been spanked more than twice in the month before the study began increased by 50%,”

    Twice in a month? I don’t know that I’ve had to paddle either of my children twice in the same year. My 10 year old may have been paddled 5 times in her entire life.
    I’m fully aware that there are parents out there who will paddle at the drop of a hat and often with little to no explination as to why or what the infraction was. And I can fully understand why a child growing up like that would be inclined to act out. I know I would. But don’t go demonizing the method just because SOME parents see it as the prefered or even the only means of discipline.

  • Jimmy

    Brett – then you should consider yourself a non-spanker

    Also, coming to the conclusion that “…The odds of a child being more aggressive by age 5 if he had been spanked more than twice in the month before the study began increased by 50%,” says Taylor. …”

    I would not classify that as “Demonizing”.

  • Jamie

    I was spanked throughout my childhood and I turned out just fine… These studies are so stupid.

    I completely intend to spank my kids.

  • SSC

    spanking makes me angry, always has. Once I become elderly, I worry that I will kill a few parents, preachers, teachers; those who spank little ones out of their own failure to understand a person.

  • Bill

    This could have easily been restated…study finds that kids that are aggressive are spanked more often.

  • Jo

    How many kids were involved in this study and how do you go about getting folks to participate? Run and Ad , Do you spank your kids? , come join this study, Also was the spanking handed out my mom or dad.
    For what its worth , I use both time outs and spankings my children understand that there are consequences for there action. and let me tell you how often a good spanking makes a difference in their behavior. Ever child is different, what works for some may not work for others.

  • Carlos

    As one commenter alluded to, it honestly (& sadly) appears that contributors to such articles (both researchers & observers) seem woefully short-sighted in their regard for the role corporeal discipline has effectively played in our nation’s long history. Particularly in helping to guide our youth toward law-abiding, respectful & productive adulthood.

    It’s as if the underlying objective is to do banish such “antiquated,” “draconian” methodologies, in part by blaming the practice itself, rather than faulty practitioners (which admittedly, we all can be guilty of, on occasion). After all, I believe it is called child-rearing for good reason.

    But, that leaves me to wonder: will completely non-physical methods really help slow the rate at which our nation’s prisons fill up, or measurably curb the ever-increasing rate of blatant selfishness we see manifest in the various growing societal problems we witness in our day? (A la Madoff.)

    That premise is doubtful, at best.

    Bottom line: I believe corporeal discipline -when practiced compassionately & with great care- is one of the most loving ways to begin curbing the heart of foolishness we’re all born with. Of course, there’s more to “the story” than that, but such is a good start, IMHO.

  • Fred

    As with most studies, this one is defective because presumes a cause and effect when in fact there is a mere correlation. It could be that the reason the toddlers were spanked more often was because they were naughty more often. Another, more likely reason could be that they inherited aggressive genes from their parents, the same aggressive genes that lead their parents to spank them. In either case, it is plausible that failure to spank a child with a predisposition for aggression could encourage such a child to be even more aggressive due to lack of restraint.

    Every aspect of a person’s behavior is not learned, some if not the majority of it is DNA. Every child is different, and the natural parents know the child better than anyone else.

  • Jerry Moler

    I used to sit my children down and talk to them for about two or three hours when they did something really wrong. We went over all of the aspects and consequences of their actions. They would ask their mother if they could please just get a spanking rather than have to go through a three hour lecture. I think my method was very effective. We had very few lectures. Spanking is not the only way to correct bad behavoir.

  • gRock

    just because the study has multiple variables does not mean that its direction of causality can be assumed.

  • Missing the point

    I think it is important to remember when disciplining your child, that their respect for you as their parent is YOURS to LOOSE. For people like Jamie who are rock solid in their belief that they will spank, please for your own sake be careful in choosing what you spank for. Some battles are not worth fighting because you will loose the war.

  • Bill

    Al, clearly you miss the point these people are trying to make. Spanking is used to reinforce a point by getting the kid’s attention. Pointing out that “Hey, if I behave in a manner that is inappropriate, I’m gonna get spanked.” I stayed out of a lot of trouble as a kid because I didn’t want to get spanked. I didn’t drink, smoke, do drugs, or show disrespect to adults. I also never got in trouble for the same thing twice. My dad was the one that enforced the punishment, and I love and respect my father very much. My mom tried to enforce the rules, but since she refused to put anything into the spankings, they were more of a joke to us kids. We forced ourselves to cry just to get her to stop. Granted, my dad didn’t spank us until we couldn’t sit, or until we had bruises, but we knew we had been spanked, and the tears were real…but we learned our lesson. I never once, as a child, considered spankings as a form of abuse. They were something to be avoided to the point of not doing stupid stuff.

  • Sara

    hmmm. these entitlement comments don’t sit right with me. Seems to me that the baby boomers (a generation raised by ’spare the rod, spoil the child’) are the most entitled, selfish group ever to wander the planet. not a great argument for spanking.

  • ZB

    Surprise, surprise… if you use violence w/ your kids they become violent. Sorry guys — it’s just that simple. My advice: resolve NEVER to hit your kids and then maybe you will only do it once or twice, instead of saying it is okay and then heading down a slippery slope.

  • DBR

    For those who are trash talking the Bible – maybe you should read it once before you speak in ignorance. Yes, biased, uniformed ignorance.

    My personal observation: strong willed children get in trouble more. Spanking encourages them to get in less trouble. I have a compliant child that almost never needed a spanking. I have another that needed to be spanked multiple times per day to just keep them safe at one point (don’t climb on furniture, counters, the dinner table because it is not safe) – it was just too much fun to climb (we even had a large play structure in the back yard).

  • John

    Children crave attention. Spanking, and any form of punishment, is giving attention to the child for being bad, in a way rewarding the undesirable behavior. The best model is to ignore the child who is misbehaving, and praise and reward the desirable behavior. Of course a parent can’t ignore some bad behavior, but many parents are way too quick to punish every little infraction.

  • Violet

    I disagree. I had 3 sisters and we all got a loud NO accompanied by a good slap on the thigh for any behavior that was dangerous to ourselves or others, like running into the street, touching electrical sockets, hitting anyone. And we got a threat of a slap for little Napolean type tantrums, and a slap if we persisted. We all grew up safety conscious, respectful of others, reasonable and with no aggressive tendencies. And we understood the word NO. I think many parents today are too lenient. And I believe very young children do not understand reasoning. I have seen many that don’t even care about the word NO and do things like run into the street laughing like it’s a game, run when their parent calls them, hit their siblings, etc,. with little or no consequence. I think a single open-handed body slap can teach NO early and that’s a good start for teaching respectful and safe behavior. And BTW, when I grew up in the Bronx it was safe because people were raised right.

  • Tina

    I was spanked and while at the time it hurt and I didn’t think it neccessary, I’ve turned out just fine,a kind and productive member of society. I grew up in a household with two parents, only one of which was a Christian, at least until I reached high school and then both were. Obviously it is not the first choice when having to discipline, but sometimes it can be the only way to get the attention of a child. Then you can sit down with them lovingly and explain, once everyone has calmed down. Spanking can be done correctly when there are loving parents.

  • AlteredStates

    People have for hundreds of years used the phrase, “spare the rod and spoil the child”, assuming that they were quoting the Bible, which in turn – they thought – gave them license to beat their children.

    Well, guess what folks, that “scripture” is NOT in the Bible. Maybe it’s in the Satanic Bible, but, not in the King James, or, any other Bible we know of.

    That quote – along with many others – have been used to use and abuse children and other “lesser” individuals, to run roughshod over individuals’ God given rights. The people who believe in God should know that God is a God of vengeance. And, they should also know that eventually, God will get around to the vengeance he has stored up for those who abuse his children. Mat. 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea”.

    I know whereof I speak. I’m a victim of child abuse from parents who claimed to be Christians and was at their bedside when they died. And, as they died their “true colors” came out when they rejected God one last time. Believe me, it was a very scary moment. But, they those to reject God then, as they chose to reject God all their lives with constant abuse of me and anyone else they could abuse. May they rest in Hell.

  • TransamGT01

    Another worthless study by some four-eyed liberal weirdo with inborn prejudices against any type of disciplining of children. The weirdo probably is an atheist who worships Karl Marx.

  • pk

    lets stop spanking Osama BinLaden and his brothers. maybe he’ll listen and change too!

  • Spanked and not Angry

    Did anybody happen to look up where Tulane University is at?

    Yes the city that is ignorant to hurricane warnings…just party on morons!

    Try the study again in the Midwest and see what kind of results you get!!!

  • LeoK711

    I see the anti-science, Bible-thumping crowd is prevalent here, too. People, READ the article carefully! They RULED OUT that the kids were aggressive and defiant to begin with. Of course, that doesn’t matter when you’ve already decided not to believe someone.

    Myself, I believe in the sincerity of every commenter here. I’m sure those who say ‘we were spanked and turned out fine’ sincerely mean it, and in most cases are probably correct. But they are basing their comments on HOW MANY kids? Three or four in their own family? Okay – then I’m sure you are correct about YOUR experience in your family.

    OF course there is no selective memory or possible bias in this either, right?

    C’mon – this is why proper studies are done, because anecdotes are just that.

    One hundred years ago it was “just common knowledge” that women and blacks were not fit to vote. The point is, we always need to question popular ‘wisdom’.

    The tone of most of the responses here makes me think this study has ‘hit’ a sensitive nerve in folks. Why SO angry at “studies” and “experts”?? Feeling a bit defensive, it seems…

  • ScienceW/AnAgenda

    “the Tulane study is the first to attempt to control and compensate for many of the environmental variables ”

    note the fact that this is the first one “to attempt” meaning they still have a long way to go before a study like this becomes “concrete” evidence. A little physical pain on a padded posterior from a parent at the right time goes a long way in helping a child not get into more emotional and socially traumatizing pain later on.

  • Steel Toe

    I suspect that fat people hate this study. It clearly shows that fat, hypocrites are the real problem in this world.

  • frank burns

    I find it utterly incomprehensible how anyone would think it OK to spank a child. The only explanation is that they were spanked as kids, and since they love their mom and dad they do it more as a “proof” of their solidarity with them, and as a demonstration that there is nothing “seriously wrong with their personal world.” But no matter what the silly reasons, it is a dumb practice.

  • Aaron

    Totally agree with this study. However, I want a controlled aggressive child, thus this supports my childrearing. Do you really want a woose of a adult in later years? one that gets walked on by someone who is able to change their mind by every little study that comes out? someone changes their religion when something else ‘cool’ comes their way? or when someone elses opinon sways them? Or when its cool to vote for change when it could really bring detriment to the country? which brings a point. will your behaviour towards your kid change? think about it before replying.
    Making that child grow a backbone and be able to stand on his/her own feet and stand up for what they believe in, easy NO, the RIGHT way to bring up a kid. YES.
    Also instill fear until you can transition INTO logic as a parent. Always explain for the spanking,This is NOT a bad thing, there is no study and no techology to be able to measure the impact on this. However,something to think about. did your folks use this method? how did you turn out, and btw, NO, its NOT pleasent to treat your child as a child and NOT your friend.
    Is there a fine line between spanking and child abuse. ABSOLUTLY. If you spank anything else BUT the BUTT, its abuse, the whoopin should also equal as many fingers as your childs age. (ie: 2yr old, two finger tap.) Also use common sense when spanking.. the force should NEVER break the skin, the force should NEVER leave a bruse. God made a butt not for funny sounds, but so that it cushins the rear end, it can take a little more abuse than other parts of the body. Just don’t excede the limit.
    My view is this, we have a cut throat world, doesn’t matter where you live. Your child, be it a male or female, will grow up, and will have to show aggression, controlled aggression to get what they want out of life. Show them control and show them to get their butts moving. Their brains are sponges, a paviolvian response will work for the younger years in developing that brain (ie:I don’t like what was done to me – Thus don’t do that behavour again) This will instill the control factor of the aggression. The study will point to the aggression to come later on in life. once you have control you should see this transisition into the critical “why” aspect of growing up. This is when your child asks why about everything. As annoying as it is THIS is the phase in which patience as a parent should start up.
    ALWAYS keep a inqusitive mind…inqusitive (sp).
    See how common sense coupled with science can make a point?

  • Billy Bob

    Rob Martin, don’t be too enamored with modern science. You can get any result you want when taking a complex system and isolating on the variables you choose.

    Just wait for the next study when someone finds it advantageous conclude the opposite.

    Better yet, count on what has stood the test of time.

  • Spoiled by Spanking

    To all those “I was spanked and I turned out fine” responders, chew on this…I was raised by a military parent with the BELT as punishment. Yes, I am a successful adult by any measure, but I am also an anxious and passively aggressive adult. I am dealing with my issues, but intend to use methods other than spanking for discipline with my children. Any one else willing to admit what I just have?

    PS Critics, please judge the study by its peer-reviewed published article, not by what the media reports: PEDIATRICS (doi:10.1542/peds.2009-2678)

  • Ajax the Great

    This study is more thorough than most other studies on the issue, so it probably should be taken seriously. The weight of the evidence is that spanking does more harm than good. But I guess those spankers that hide behind the Bible simply can’t be convinced otherwise.

    For those who believe in a vengeful God who kills and tortures people for all eternity simply for being less than perfect, it is actually quite logical to “beat the devil out” of their kids. Like Bubba said, the Bible offers advice on beating slaves as well–is that ok too? If Jesus had kids, would he hit them too?

    Not all Christians believe that corporal punishment is the right way. Google “Gentle Christian Mothers” and you will see what I mean.

  • JCT2010

    The Bible isn’t wrong, just yet another case of poor interpretation, people justifying their actions with a context they don’t understand. “Spare the Rod spoil the child” however the Rod was used by shepherds to guide sheep; they didn’t hit the sheep with the Rod…

  • JohnD

    Notice the qualification: more that 2x in the previous month. What about 1x a month or less? What about the disposition of the parent when the spanking occured? Sounds like a useful study with results that people may try to abuse.

  • Correct

    Altered States comments that the spare the rod spoil the child is not in the bible and that is true, albeit that saying is not as harsh as the biblical equivalent. “Pro 13:24 He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”

    and though I must say that there are those who abuse in the name of biblical justification, there are many more who aptly utilize the efficacious dispensing of justice in a truly biblical manner.
    that word rod means branch or palm frond, not an iron rod that could inflict harsh damage, but stinging pain with no lasting effects or broken skin. a little pain can do what talking or time outs can not accomplish in an instant, you have their attention. anything beyond that, would be considered abuse.

  • Gary

    This is not a scientific study. It is a survey. The only thing this proves it that aggressive children get spanked more than non aggressive children. As one would expect

    First look who sponsored it. Next ask why there was no “control” group.

    The only way to get a scientific answer is to take 2500 people and tell one third of them to spank and one third not to spank and one third to spank only certain children.

    More junk science reported as fact.

  • Spanked but not Angry

    They are excluding major factors from this study (

    What kind of family was the child in: uppper, middle, lower class?

    What order does the child fall in the sibling line up:
    First, middle, yougest?

    What kind of family is the child from:
    Single parent, mixed family?

    What kind of discipline was done BEFORE 3yrs old?

    This is by far a non conclusive study.

  • kww

    Umm to the teabagger that felt compelled to bring President Obama into this …do your research he stated that he and First Lady Michelle do and have spanked on occasion.

  • GAR

    This research is seriously flawed. Back when spanking was common practice…even in the public schools, you never heard of the aggression and violence that you see in children today(school shootings etc…)! By the way I was spanked as a child and it did not make me aggressive or violent.

  • Rod w/ sheep

    JCT2010… are correct they didn’t hit the sheep with the rod. they would use the crook at the top both for corraling and to break the leg of a sheep that kept wandering off. they would then carry the sheep everywhere while it was healing and thus once healed, the sheep would never wander off again because it learned that the best place was at the shepherds side. wrong assumption on the word translation of “rod” and I’m sure you don’t want us to go around breaking our kids legs who get rebellious….

  • Blake

    Yes, the solution is to withold love by sending them to a “time-out” where they can “think” about the harm they caused…HA HA HA HA!

    So, while they are in “time-out” they are contemplating how to get awawy with it the next time without punishment.

    I have 4 kids, I provide a spanking maybe once every 4-6 months. The wrongdoing is explained, it’s not done in anger, it’s over in a couple of minutes (at most), after I remind them I love them and BEST of all it’s effective.

    We have a society in fear, where children are beginning to feel empowered over their own parents – The sad truth is that children already feel that way towards teachers, police officers, firemen, our military personell and adults in general. They abuse the adult with disrespect and a “talk-back” attitude because they know their is no punishment. What type of “leaders” will those children be with this entitlement mentality?

  • Scully

    In a study of this size, you expose the fact that the majority of parents us violence: as an ugly shortcut for behavioral modification; as a power trip; for venting anger; playing favorites; transferring shame and simple bullying.

  • JCT2010

    Ephesians 6:4:

    “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”

  • T Taylor

    Another study of Horse hockie. There are 5 dozen studys done in the last 60 years,The first one by that crazy idiot from LaHolla, Ca. in the early 50’s. He never spanked his 4 kids and everyone turned out bad. YOU SPANK A CHILD FOR A SERIOUS REASON ONLY. BEATING A CHILD IS A CRIME. You don’t humiliate them either unless it’s run into the street and after being told not to and nearly getting killed. Then a spank sets the tone for the rest of their lives. I spanked both of my boys just 3 times between 3 and 10 and my daughter just once. It was deserved and they knew it. No drugs no drunks all work and are good parents. A few spanks when deserved does not a bully make. It’s either the mother are the father who is the bully- either mental or physical that makes their child a bully. If there are 5 kids in the family and it can be the youngest or the oldest who is a bully—You can be sure that they learned it from a parent, uncle or grandparent. Or maybe from a buddy-either a boy or girl can be a bully. And once a bully it is usually a bully for life. These people are missing a gene someplace just like an alcoholic. You may control it, but it’s difficult. You deal with a bully by being stronger either mentally or physically. There is no cure. Spare the rod is not meant to be taken as actually using a rod. A rebuke, a serious talking to or a belt. The crime determines the punishment. Not the other way around.

  • JCT2010

    Lev. 27:32; and it is no small comfort to the sheep of Christ that they have passed under his rod, who has told them, and that they are all numbered by him; not only their persons, but the very hairs of their head; and that they are under his care and protection: the shepherd with his rod, staff, or crook, directs the sheep where to go, pushes forward those that are behind, and fetches back those that go astray; as well as drives away dogs, wolves, bears, etc. that would make a prey of the flock; and of such use is the word of God, attended with the power of Christ and his Spirit; it points out the path of faith, truth, and holiness, the saints should walk in; it urges and stirs up those that are negligent to the discharge of their duty, and is the means of reclaiming backsliders, and of preserving the flock from the ravenous wolves of false teachers: in a word, the presence, power, and protection of Christ, in and by is Gospel and ordinances, are what are here intended, and which are the comfort and safety of his people, in the worst of times and cases.

  • Bill

    In this century we have finally learned that it is harmful to hit our animals; there is a better way to train dogs and other animals. In fact, it is unlawful in many states to hit/abuse animals. If you strike/assault your spouse or another person you can go to jail. But if your hit your children it is good parenting??? THAT’S INSANE!!! There are better ways…consistency, consequences (positive & negative) and tough love, but absent of violence are key for positive and long lasting results.

  • MomOfTwins

    2 things…
    1, why is it okay to hit a child but ILLEGAL to hit an adult? I’m always confused as to why so many people are comfortable hitting their kids. These are the same parents who condemn violence on TV….WTH?
    2, speaking from an African-American perspective. My family thinks we’re crazy for not spanking. They say our kids will turn out spoiled and law breakers. My husband likes to point out that probably 99% of the black men in Cook County Jail in Chicago were spanked. Um, yea…time to try something new.
    BTW, my kids are….kids. Talk back sometime, get into things…you know…they act like kids. Why beat them for acting like kids? My friends who spank…their kids act just like mine…like kids. And I didn’t have to assult mine to get them to be normal.

  • Rod w/ sheep

    that’s cool I never thought about using a scripture on tithing to talk about how the shepherd used his staff although I can see some correlation with tithe and pain. sometimes giving a tenth sure does hurt, but it does keep us in our place.

  • MLK2

    Spanking to me is nothing short of physical abuse. We NEVER physically abused our children and we able to raise self sufficient children, now contributing members of society and very much aware of how tradition is used to justify abuse of those that are weaker.

    To James Dunn — our children did not run up and down the aisles in restaurants either, but we never struck them. We enforced restrictive time outs (sitting, being quiet, being still, being REMOVED when not complying) and had very few incidents where an evening ended unsatisfactorily. There are OTHER methods for dealing with unruly children.

    Nuex: Your comments about nonspanking are anecdotal at best. Our children were not spanked and they are both richly contributing to society both economically and socially. One is a research mathematician and the other is a graphic artist. Both are younger than 25 and self supporting. We never spanked them…go figure.

    DBR: who speaks of strong willed children getting in more trouble. I agree entirely. And it takes a strong willed parent to guide a strong willed child without physical abuse. But it is possible.

    Jerry Moler, you have happened on a very effective method of child rearing — simply bore them to death. That’s what we did, talked, talked TALKED to them about their choices, their behavior, the consequences. They rolled their eyes often and at times I wondered how effective our practice was. But now that they are grown and can recount those sessions, I know they were actually listening (if only because they were too bored to do anything else). And, I’m glad to say that both our son’s are now young adults, well adjusted and contributing members of society. We never put a hand to them and instead chose less abusive forms of punishment. Both boys honor life and all things living with gentle compassion.

    cndnflyr: Spanking is physical abuse no matter how you spin it. I read Dobson’s “Train Up Your Child” for about 20 pages and then I wanted to vomit. Abuse is abuse…whether you use a “switch” or your hand…whether you “talk it out” or you don’t. You are physically abusing your child. There are better ways to address inappropriate behavior, but it takes a commitment that raising one’s hand does not.

    To Rob: An aggressive child is an aggressive child. I totally agree. But heaping more agressiveness on an already aggressive child does not assure obedience. More often it ensures more acting out. I could site studies if you wish, but you would have to be willing to read them and not write them off as liberal whining.

    Roger: I simply am aghast. I don’t know what to say. In the 1600s children were chattel as were women. Though they (women) often were the title holders of land and goods, they were also the property of the husbands. If that is what you are
    aspiring to return to, I will simply say that I am glad I married someone other than you.

    Okay at this point I am simply wrung out from reading the horrific views of how children should be assaulted and abused all in the name of obedience. Love, compassion and a reverence for life does not have to come through violence. It takes a commitment but it is possible.

    Go forth in peace, whatever your religious inclination.

  • dt

    idea: why didnt we study the parents of these aggressive kids? ever occur to anyone its not the kids’ fault? why are we blaming a 3 year old for ANYTHING? seriously. where the bleep do you get off blaming an infant for being aggressive?!? the reason the world is seeing more aggressive children doesnt have to do with lack of spanking for bleep’s sake. are you people this dense? we’ve gone from a world of almost total care and mostly home schooling to a world where a child is with a parent for an hour a day. theyre all jacked up on bad food and under-education. their babysitter is a playstation. get a clue this is getting annoying.

  • dt

    another thing. how hard is it to motivate a child? i just dont get you people at all. if you cant outsmart a kid, youre not smart enough to have kids. if the only way you can motivate someone is by scaring the crap out of them, buy a fricken dog. at least then youre not hurting a person. i cant stand these comments that go like “oh youre obviously not a parent because my 3 year old is a TERROR and theres NO OTHER WAY”.

  • Bill

    MOM OF TWINS and MLK2 You guys said it all and said it best!

  • AlteredStates

    As a side note, as I read the comments posted here I was also watching a program on TV about the Mormons.

    One of their many screwy “doctrines” is, that, the black man was “allowed” to live after Noah left his Ark because God still needed evil in the world to try men and make them choose between good and evil. Yes, the Mormon Church believes (or rather used to believe until the 1960’s civil rights movement gained in strength) that, black men were pure evil!!! And, that is why they didn’t even bother preaching the Gospel to the black man until about the 1960’s.

    Now, (of course) they welcome black men and even ordain black men into the ministry because, after sending white Mormon missionaries to The Union of South Africa to preach to “white men only”, a few black men found some of their literature, took the good parts out of it, and believed the Jesus story. So, it was the “evil” black man who showed the white man “the light”. How ironic!

  • kww

    The mormons also believe that Satan is the father of the black race. And that Satan and Jesus are brothers. Jesus had sex with Marie Magdelene and had the white race. They believe Mormon blacks will go to Mormon heaven in order to be servants to the white Mormons that will become demi-gods upon entering heaven .

  • AlteredStates

    I just found out that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is a Mormon. Another reason to make sure we enforce the “separation of church and state”.

    Another politician to watch is Mitt Romney – another Mormon.

    I mean, Nixon was a Quaker – that was bad enough. But, a Mormon? The Mormons have their own “bible”, and they are the only ones who are “allowed” to “interpret” it.

    By the way; the Mormons have guns and won’t hesitate to use them on anyone who tries to prevent them from worshiping God “the way they want to worship God”. That was told to me by a Mormon while I was visiting Utah. Yikes!!! These people are scary.

  • Pwll

    As a former teacher who taught very small children and then elementary school children I can tell you this article is right on. I once asked my third graders which ones were spanked and which were not. It was clear that the most physically aggressive children in the classroom were the ones that were spanked. I never spanked my daughter. Sometimes it feels hard to know what to do when a child is not behaving, but if you tell yourself that violence is not an option you find new, creative and very effective ways to handle problems.

  • AlteredStates

    Reply to:KWW
    I didn’t know that (what you just said). These people really are crazy.
    The more I hear about Mormonism, the more “creeped out” I get.

    If this guy, Mitt Romney, ever becomes a serious contender for the Presidency, I hope someone breaks the news on how stupid his religion is. We just got over the “Cowboy from Toy Story” (Bush – if you didn’t know who I meant), he was crazy enough, with his theory about “Gog and Magog” running wild in the Middle East. That’s what he was saying in the White House when he was trying to find a way to attack Iraq in 2002 & 2003

    Who knows, maybe Jesus WILL have to come back, just to save us “sane ones” from the likes of these crazies.

  • AlteredStates

    Good for you and stick with your convictions that it is wrong to spank/beat your children. Violence only begets more violence, i.e. the middle east, racism, religion, all the wars we have ever fought, just to name a few things.

    We are not born violent. Violence is learned. Prov. 15:1-2 “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
    2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly: but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness”.

  • DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » New Study Reveals Concrete Effects of Spanking on Children’s Personalities

    [...] Read it. There’s been a lot of debate about the merits of spanking over the last fifty years, but a new study is providing some hard data about the results of spanking on developing personalities. The study at Tulane University observed the development of almost 2,500 children.  Those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 proved to be much more likely to be aggressive by age 5. [...]

  • kww

    Yep alterstate is is an eye-opener. My brother lived in Utah for 20 years and man the story he can tell. Anyway, the other interesting fact about the origins of that religion is that they were closely tied into freemasonry at the onstart and there was a falling out between the two religions after Mormonism moved it’s base to Utah. many of the secret rituals and such are still very similar to freemasonry. To me the freemasons are just as scary as mormonism… if not more just due to the concentration of powerful people affiliated with in its ranks. Shriners and 33 degree masons make up the bulk of our history’s leaders in this country and I’ll wager world wide. Presidents, bankers, corporate heads, politicians, etc. Vast majority of secret orders are aligned or loosely based on freemasonry principles. Even the college Greek system Freemasonry is very segregated as no minorities were allowed to join the mason order until the 70’s and blacks still are not allowed, they have their own mason fraternal orders. The bilderbergs, shriners, skull and bones,

  • kww

    oops I pushed send to early…anyway The bilderbergs, shriners, skull and bones, are all secret orders with very powerful people but are all tied to free masonry…Bill Clinton is a bilderberg and was a demolay as a youth. Ladies have Eastern Star orders (Hillary Clinton is one) and International Order of the Rainbow for Girls is the children’s branch

  • Episode #2: Rewards and Punishments — The Psych Files Podcast

    [...] Here’s another article about a study showing how spanking a child does not work [...]

  • camille

    all of my 4 brothers were spanked, and whipped and beaten occasionally. non of them are criminals, but the emotional scars are hard to ignore. i personally think it’s the lazy/ignorant/uninformed way to parent. it only seems logical that hitting your child when they do something wrong will only teach them to hit to solve their problems or at least not solve their issues in a healthy way (maybe by just avoiding the issue).

  • tfhc

    A child should only be spanked when a parent loses self control and then the parent should profusely apologize and seek professional help. There is NEVER a reasonable explanation to bullying your own child. To cloak physical abuse under the guise of gentle tutelage is delusional. Hitting is hitting and you can’t “pretty it up” with any form of justification.

  • AlteredStates

    I think I’ve found the solution to all child abuse.

    Send all abused children on a retreat with a group of Catholic priests convicted of child abuse – the Pope would approve, I’m sure. And, the children would feel right at home. After all, abusive parents and abusive priests share the same mentality. This way they can keep it all in the family.

    And, if the kids start acting out because of the abuse, the priests can scare the Hell out of them by reading from the book of Revelation – the ultimate horror story.

    Isn’t religion responsible for twisting the minds of children and destroying the lives of millions of human beings?

    P.S. Pope Ratzinger (former Nazi)is responsible for protecting pedophile priests and is being pursued by legal authorities for this cover up.

    Ratzinger continues cover up.

    I’m for disbanding the RCC. How say ye?

  • New Study Reports Spanking Bad For Kids, Great For Cardio

    [...] A new study out of Tulane University reports that though spanking children leads to more aggressive children, it also gives a terrific boost to your cardio program.   “We’re very excited about these results,” said one researcher, ” because spanking your kids just twice a day is roughly the equivalent of a twenty minute jog.  We’re not sure yet but we think it’s something to do with the rage the parents are imparting on their little ones.  And it’s a real boon that such anger doesn’t just dissipate.  We are seeing this increase in rage/cardio activity for days after the initial spanking.” [...]

  • Study Shows Correlation Between Spanking and Aggression | Company Affair

    [...] in the mother, and even if the mother had considered aborting the kid. A recent article in KidGlue talked about the study and what they found.  According to the article, the study found that kids [...]

  • apostolopoulos john

    Spanking is wrong even by a loving person….because when my mom spanks me and then she tells me that she loves me, i do not believe her. I never did….but whether or not spanking is out of love, depends on how you define love. To me love is to respect the other person for who they are, without trying to change them and 2, if you truly love someone including your kid…you will try to change your behaviour towards your kid….It’s true a child might forgive a spanking which i don’t, only if the parent admits that what he/she did to the kid, was wrong. that’s my opinion.

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