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Harsh punishment such as spanking has been shown to slow cognitive development and increase antisocial and criminal behavior.
A new book by Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Lab and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, brings together more than four decades of research that makes the definitive case against spanking, including how it slows cognitive development and increases antisocial and criminal behavior.
"The Primordial Violence" (Routledge, 2013) shows that the reasons parents hit those they love includes a lot more than just correcting misbehavior. It provides evidence on the effect spanking has on children, and what can be done to end it. The book features longitudinal data from more than 7,000 U.S. families as well as results from a 32-nation study and presents the latest research on the extent to which spanking is used in different cultures and the subsequent effects of its use on children and on society.
"Research shows that spanking corrects misbehavior. But it also shows that spanking does not work better than other modes of correction, such as time out, explaining, and depriving a child of privileges. Moreover, the research clearly shows that the gains from spanking come at a big cost. These include weakening the tie between children and parents and increasing the probability that the child will hit other children and their parents, and as adults, hit a dating or marital partner. Spanking also slows down mental development and lowers the probability of a child doing well in school," Straus says.
"More than 100 studies have detailed these side effects of spanking, with more than 90 percent agreement among them. There is probably no other aspect of parenting and child behavior where the results are so consistent," he says.