What science tells us about smacking children

On the UK website inews.co.uk, Tom Bawden has this article detailing a range of research that shows the harms of smacking and other forms of physical punishment on children:Ā 

ā€œPaediatricians are calling for an outright ban on smacking a child in England and Northern Ireland in a move that would bring the law in line with Wales and Scotland. . . .Ā 

There is a good deal of scientific evidence that smacking is not only ineffective in terms of discipline, but can make a childā€™s behaviour worse and have long-term negative effects on their development. . . .Ā 

A 2021 study, led by University College London and published in The Lancet, analysed 69 science papers and came up with some clear findings on physical punishment.

Firstly, that it makes things worse, with the scientists coming to the ā€˜overwhelming conclusion that physical punishment predicts an increase in behaviour problems over timeā€™, in part by making the child more aggressive. And second, that there is nothing good to say about physical punishment for the childā€™s development, with some of the studies analysed finding it had a detrimental and others that it had no effect. . . .Ā 

That study was broader than just smacking, including slapping and spanking. But it excluded more severe forms of physical punishment, such as hitting a child with an object, slapping them on the face, throwing an object at or beating them.

The word spanking is more commonly used in the US, to denote striking with an open hand ā€“ or slapping ā€“ typically on the bottom.

A 2021 study from Harvard University, published in the journal Child Development, found that spanking can be so traumatic it can change the way a childā€™s brain functions. . . . The study found that spanking reduced a childā€™s ability to control their emotions under stress in ways similar to severe maltreatment.ā€

Article ā†’***

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