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Another large study found problems with parents spanking children - specifically that spanking may make a child's behavior worse over time. More than 50 countries ban spanking, but many parents still spank in the US (and yes, it is legal). Unfortunately some states in the US also allow spanking (corporal punishment) in schools even today, which is viewed by many as physical abuse.

Psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia found that children who were spanked by their parents at age five years were more likely to have behavioral problems between the ages 6 and 8. "Our findings suggest that spanking is not an effective technique and actually makes children's behavior worse not better," says lead author Elizabeth T Gershoff.

The researchers had 2 main conclusions. First:They found no evidence that spankings in general or recent spankings are effective at reducing "externalizing behavior problems" (e.g., fighting, arguing, getting angry, disrupting activities, being impulsive - as reported by their teachers) over time.  Instead, this study (like others) found that instead spanking children predicts more behavior problems in the future in children. And secondly, while the number of spankings was important (frequent vs not frequent spankings) with the result that children receiving frequent spankings had more behavior problems later, they also found  that a child who is spanked even once is more likely to have behavior problems in the future than a similar child who is never spanked. From Medical Xpress:

Spanking linked to increase in children's behavior problems

Children who have been spanked by their parents by age 5 show an increase in behavior problems at age 6 and age 8 relative to children who have never been spanked, according to new findings in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The study, which uses a statistical technique to approximate random assignment, indicates that this increase in behavior problems cannot be attributed to various characteristics of the child, the parents, or the home environment - rather, it seems to be the specific result of spanking.

Gershoff and coauthors Kierra M. P. Sattler (University of Texas at Austin) and Arya Ansari (University of Virginia) examined data from 12,112 children who participated in the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study. When the children were 5 years old, their parents reported how many times they had spanked their child in the past week (if any). The researchers classified any child whose parent provided a number other than zero as having been spanked.

The researchers then matched children who had been spanked with those who hadn't according to 38 child- and family-related characteristics, including: the child's age, gender, overall health, and behavior problems at age 5; the parent's education, age... Pairing the children in this way yielded two groups of children whose main difference was whether their parents had spanked them, effectively accounting for other factors that could plausibly influence the behavior of both parent and child. This approach allowed the researchers to approximate the random assignment of participants to groups, a hallmark of experimental design.

To gauge children's behavior problems over time, Gershoff, Sattler, and Ansari examined teachers' ratings when the children were 5, 6, and 8 years old. Children's teachers reported the frequency with which the children argued, fought, got angry, acted impulsively, and disturbed ongoing activities. The results were clear: Children who had been spanked at age 5 showed greater increases in behavior problems by age 6 and also by age 8 when compared with children who had never been spanked.

Gershoff and colleagues conducted a similar analysis with only those children who had been spanked by their parents, comparing children who had been spanked in the week before the study (which suggests frequent spanking) and those who had not. Children spanked in the past week at age 5 also experienced greater increases in problem behavior at age 6 and 8 compared with children not spanked as frequently.

Image result for paddling in school A new law in France just banned spanking of children, making it 52 countries in the world that ban spanking of children. Yet in the United States we go so far in the other direction that nineteen states still allow spanking and other forms of physical punishment in school. Of these 19 states, 15 expressly permit it while another four do not prohibit it. According to Federal data, more than 109,000 students were paddled, hit, or physically punished in some way in schools during 2013-2014. Seven Southern states account for 80 percent of in-school corporal punishment in the U.S.: Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

The National Association of School Psychologists explains corporal punishment as "the intentional infliction of pain or discomfort and/or the use of physical force upon a student with the intention of causing the student to experience bodily pain so as to correct or punish the student's behavior." In other words, it is a spanking, beating, paddling (hitting with a paddle!), or physical abuse.

Also, a recent study found that "black children are twice as likely as white children to be subject to corporal punishment" at school. This is partly because black children tend to live in states where such punishments are allowed, and also because black students are more likely to be singled out for corporal punishment by educators. In Mississippi, white students were physically disciplined at a rate of 4.7 beatings per every 100 students, but among black students, the rate was 8.1 per every 100 students.

Ironically, while Texas is one of the states that allows corporal punishment, research on spanking from the University of Texas (and Univ. of Michigan) found that: the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems, and cognitive difficulties. These findings are from reviewing 50 years of research on spanking. In other words, study after study found that spanking, corporal punishment, paddling, beatings, physical abuse, or whatever you want to call it - results in negative long-term effects. It causes harm. So why is the USA so damn backward in 2017 that this is still being practiced in schools? The place where children are supposed to be safe, where adults are supposed to be role models, where children are supposed to learn right from wrong. Eh...

From the Washington Post: The States Where Teachers Still Beat Kids

In America's South, the beatings will continue. A new study published today finds that seven Southern states account for 80 percent of in-school corporal punishment in the U.S.: Mississippi, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma. The research by Dick Startz, an economics professor at U.C. Santa Barbara, and released by the Brookings Institution's Brown Center used data from the Department of Education's Civil Rights Division to determine the breakdown.

Corporal punishment at school is illegal in 31 states. Of the 19 that technically allow it, many do not appear to practice it at all, according to Startz' numbers. But some states are use the practice relatively often. In Mississippi there were more than six instances of corporal punishment -- defined as "paddling, spanking, or other forms of physical punishment imposed on a student" -- for every 100 public school students during the 2011-2012 school year. In other words, one out of every 17 public school students in Mississippi can expect to get beaten by a school administrator during a typical school year.

The persistence of corporal punishment is schools is all the more puzzling when you consider the research: "Many studies have shown that physical punishment — including spanking, hitting and other means of causing pain — can lead to increased aggression, antisocial behavior, physical injury and mental health problems for children," the American Psychological Association wrote in 2012. The American Academy of Pediatrics "strongly opposes" the practice. So does the United Nations. These groups agree that the evidence is clear: beating children does far more harm than good.

From University of Texas News: Risks of Harm from Spanking Confirmed by Analysis of Five Decades of Research

The more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a new meta-analysis of 50 years of research on spanking by experts at The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan. The study, published in this month’s Journal of Family Psychology, looks at five decades of research involving over 160,000 children.

Gershoff and co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, found that spanking (defined as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities) was significantly linked with 13 of the 17 outcomes they examined, all in the direction of detrimental outcomes. “The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” Grogan-Kaylor says.

Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor tested for some long-term effects among adults who were spanked as children. The more they were spanked, the more likely they were to exhibit anti-social behavior and to experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to support physical punishment for their own children, which highlights one of the key ways that attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation. The researchers looked at a wide range of studies and noted that spanking was associated with negative outcomes consistently and across all types of studies....