Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Science Of Spanking: What Happens To Spanked Kids When They Grow Up?

(By Curator: Adam Mordecai, first published at Upworthy at:

The science of corporal punishment. With fact-checked facts and everything.

You know what the most annoying thing in the world is when you are a parent? Other people telling you what to do as if they know better. Backseat parenting drives me crazy. Until I'm the one doing it. I have dear friends who spank their kids, and I always try to talk to them about the science of it. They always respond with, "I know what's best for my kids, just like you know what's best for yours." Which is exactly what I'd say if someone told me that I was doing it wrong. Every kid is different. Every kid has their needs.

However, during those discussions, I'd say there is science that backs up doing something other than spanking. They'd always ask for specifics. I never had them. Until now. So here's an infographic explaining what 36,000 people and 88 studies found.

The biggest takeaway for me? Even if you spank with control, discipline, and good intent, your kids are more likely to have depression and engage in aggressive behavior in adulthood.

Click the image to see it in closer detail.

For those of you who spank your kids, let me just declare: I am in no way attacking your parenting skills or blaming you for anything. Parenting is hard. I've wanted to spank my kids on numerous occasions. But learning about the science can help you in the future.

Maybe it's what you grew up with. Maybe it's what you have always known. But the science is hard to ignore.

Take from it what you will, but just know I'm not here to judge you — I'm only here to ask you to consider an alternative. I think we can all agree that we want what is best for our children.

N.B. "The Science of Corporal Punishment" is developed by NowSourcing for MST Services with contributions from Adam Mordecai.


Angela said...

Maybe you don't realize it, but your science and studies are unreadable as such. All that is seen is a chart. When you click on it, it simply gets smaller! While I am certainly interested to see what the scientists have come up with, I would only be interested in studies from highly white areas, like parts of Europe.

I am not for spanking as a form of discipline for any thinking high IQ children over 4, as due to a high empathy as they will have figured out that the golden rule works to their advantage.
Sadly though, the ability to follow the golden rule hinges on your oxytocin levels. . .which differ dependent on your race. So, while spankings with little white children as a way of helping them understand other's pain, can stop a kid from being a bully, it will never work on those without empathy. Thus all the spankings in the world in the black ghettos only serve to control and give the parent a temporary upper hand.

I have 5 kids. Each very different. One I spanked religiously,but it only served to distance her from me. The next one had obvious signs of emotional trauma and threw up with more than one or two swats. So I stopped spankings altogether, for the next one too. He was very loving, but very undisciplined.

When eventually he got a brother, I saw a total lack of empathy show up,but only out of being naive. He was clueless as to how it felt to be hurt by anyone, as his sisters were taught early, but not him. So his unrestrained brother came along and I not only had to play catch up with the older, but was starting to question if I should swat the baby when he hurt someone.

I went to an Atheist group where not one child was behaved, as opposed to all the religious groups I had gone to that had at least 1/2 behaved and sweet kids. With religious family, counselors and fiends commenting on the lack of restraint, and no other way to deal with the toddlers, we went back to restrained swats to teach a lesson. . .and you know what? I have empathetic and good kids again. It makes my husband even want more!

So while it is possibly a choice from convenience(as no one wants to live with methods that just allow the kid to scream it out) I think of it as trial and error, using an open mind from the perspective of both religious and Atheistic pasts. In the end, it is good to get a wide worldview, because quite often you will find that there was a reason for the tradition, and that it was needed or appropriate at the time, or with the population that did it.

Too much empathy in white civilizations only allow the wrong, weak, or bullying elements to dominate. I see rare kids as good as mine, and they do it without any control or fear of rebelling. Part of that is genetic, but part is how we have not feared being in a position of responsibility and control in the early years. . .something permissive parents struggle with. You are the parent, not the best friend.Without inflicting any real pain, you can show your disapproval and get the kids attention when young, and I think that is entirely appropriate to show your authority, as that will happen to them their whole life. Kids who are not at all corrected physically at a young age (Which is the only thing they understand in the toddler years) seem to turn out abusive to all around them for a few years, and certainly a danger to younger kids. If you are willing to be home bound, and have no other kids, spoiling them completely, then go for it! If not, I would suggest a more restricted and enforced program of empathy training, including a few swats along the way.

Clairsentience said...

Dear Angela,

Thanks so much for your comments on this post. I apologise for the less than ideal formatting of this article. But if you would go to the original page from where this article was curated, you would have the full-sized jpg file which extends across the page to facilitate viewing. You can also save the image down for future reference if you prefer as well.

The page was provided in the original article above, as well as follows for your easy reference:

Based on sources referenced in the article, the statistics from studies were procured predominantly from within US. And on that basis, I would think this would qualify your criterion of highly white population samples used in such studies. And if you were to scroll all the way down to the end of the above-mentioned page, you would also be able to find links to all the relevant sources referred to by the author.

On a personal level, I am actually supportive of your manner of parenting which blends compassion in upbringing with controlled corporate punishment at suitable points in time. Coming from an Asian culture, I have to say that I am not unfamiliar with corporate punishment as my parents have used it as part of my behavioural correction during my own upbringing.

On hindsight, I do recognise that as with any other young kids, no one would naturally have the cognitive ability to distinguish "right" from "wrong" from birth, and therefore this knowledge base needs to be acquired somehow in his/her course of life. In tending to follow the path of least resistance instinctively, i.e. taking the easy way out, I believe that a child would inadvertently stray at times from doing what the social norms of the day dictate as being the appropriate behaviour. Until such time, the child has fully developed the ability to self-restraint and reason logically, I would think the stick approach at suitable points in time might be the most effective means to correct inappropriate behaviour.

More importantly, I think that the environment within which a child is given the opportunity to develop would also play a critical role in his/her upbringing. I was really fortunate to have hung out with a group of like-minded friends who thought that treating fellow human beings with respect was cool, among other beneficial behaviours. All in all, I think it literally takes a village to bring a child up well. But the burden of the child's education would typically befall on his/her parents, since upbringing normally begins at home. And I think compassion is a really tricky thing, i.e. the parents needn't necessarily be demonstrating compassion by refusing to use corporate punishment on the child.

Once again, I thank you for your comments and I have had a wonderful time deliberating and responding to them. And I wish you all the best in your parenting journey ahead!

Angela said...

So I looked at the original study report ( and as I suspected, the methods of most made it very questionable at best. First off, the studies were done using data from mainly 4 and up to HIGH SCHOOL! The kid should be trained by then!

Secondly, the demographics say those spanking most are in the South. The populations dominating the South's public schools (I know this as I live there)are the minorities.

Furthermore, the time of day most spankings happen are when Daddy is home. . .Furthermore, the spankings with the correlations to aggression seem to happen in homes where the parents are dysfunctional, or the mothers are single.On top of that, SES seems strongly correlated with the most spanking, and the most aggression.

This is not surprising, as the population in the South, who dominate the public schools, are 73% from single mothers, and abusive families are minorities. The study also admitted that there may just be a correlation with aggression and spankings because of the genetic predisposition to be aggressive, and thus spanking more, but ending up with equally aggressive kids. This becoming obvious in other studies that show that blacks are "anti-social" to start with, and punished because of it, while white kids because of their harsh discipline end up bullies. It seems to come down to control, empathy and a need to see fairness that causes resentment of spankings in whites of an older age, while blacks seem to be controlled and benefited by early and often spankings. Fitting into society better with less "antisocial behavior" if their parents take the interest in them enough to spank them. . .which happens most apparently in the middle class blacks ironically. The low class blacks neglect and abuse, but are less likely to admit it I am guessing. . .and most of these studies, if not all, are self reported. This is due to the low Oxytocin of especially poor blacks which makes them very distrusting and unlikely to go along with studies like this.

I blog on the science of racial differences, and I suspected from the start that there was only a correlation of violence with spankings, due to the people that mostly spank. . .and this study seems to have confirmed that like all the correlations that lead to a low IQ, the vast majority end in blacks, or stupid rednecks. I hate to say it, but I am more convinced than ever that spankings, under control, and under the age of 4, are good, and for the safety of the child!

Clairsentience said...

Dear Angela,

I have to say that you have presented sound and informed arguments in favour of controlled corporate punishments (below the age of 4) which have clearly been researched and analysed with a high degree of competence. I have gone over to check out your blog and then I truly realise that your realm of expertise far exceeds just this topic.

And this has been a very educational session for me, and for that, I thank you again. :)

Angela said...

thank you for your compliment. I would not have even commented here if I thought you were not open minded and intelligent , as I realize this is a very touchy subject for so many. I hope this article can help people see a more balanced perspective on this subject, as well as others you enjoyed in my blog posts. I'm glad you did, but I honestly hope you will return the favor and comment on my blog.