Spanking Doesn't Harm Children Scientists Say

A study unveiled at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting this summer revealed what many parents already knew - an occasional spanking isn't the child abuse some scientists claim.

"Occasional spankings do not damage a child's social or emotional development," said the study's author, Diana Baumrind, a child psychologist at the University of California.

Baumrind based her conclusion on interviews conducted from 1968 to 1980, analyzing more than 100 California families. The study distinguished between parents who did not spank (about 4 percent) and those who used mild spankings. Interestingly, the study found no differences in the emotional development of children who received no spankings and those who received mild spankings.

The results contradict the claims of left-leaning social scientists who made spanking a scapegoat for a wide range of juvenile problems, including depression, delinquency and mental disabilities. "A lot of people out there advocate that any spanking at all is detrimental, and that's not what we found," said the study's co-author, Elizabeth Owens.

The study also underscored Focus on the Family's stance that nonabusive discipline used in moderation can be helpful.

"The real issue is the concept of parental authority and a parent-child relationship that includes both affirmative nurturing as well as discipline," said Dr. DuBose Ravenel, a North Carolina pediatrician who serves on Focus' Physicians Resource Council. "So I believe, when used appropriately in the right context, that spanking can play a reasonable discipline component."

? 2001 Focus on the Family. Used by permission. Taken from the December 2001issue of Focus on the Family Citizen magazine.

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