Corporal Punishment – Study Results

Corporal punishment, spanking, paddling or hitting a child is a heatedly debated social issue in many countries. Questions exist as to whether children are harmed by being hit for discipline, or whether it is an effective method of discipline.

The results in a study by Elizabeth Gershoff, Psychologist, “Spanking may lead to sexual deviancy in years of maturity,” published in Science, SOURCE:, February 28, 2008, found 93 percent agreement that spanking can lead to such problems as delinquent and anti-social behavior in childhood along with aggression, criminal and anti-social behavior and spousal or child abuse as an adult.

Researches draw an analogy with smoking. If a smoker reaches the age of 65 without developing lung cancer, it does not mean that smoking is not harmful. It means the person was one of the lucky ones.

Elizabeth Gershoff’s study found links between spanking and 10 negative behaviors or experiences, including aggression, anti-social behavior and mental health problems. The one positive result of spanking that she identified was quick compliance with parental demands.

“Americans need to re-evaluate why we believe it is reasonable to hit young, vulnerable children, when it is against the law to hit other adults, prisoners, and even animals. Until researchers, clinicians, and parents can definitively demonstrate the presence of positive effects of corporal punishment, including effectiveness in halting future misbehavior, not just the absence of negative effects, we as psychologists can not responsibly recommend its use,” Gershoff wrote in the American Psychological Association’s bimonthly journal.

If a child was spanked, and they do not later develop an interest in bondage and needing to be hit as part of sexual activity, it does not mean spanking is OK, it is because they are one of the lucky ones.

Researchers concluded that spanking does not work any better than non-corporal punishment but has harmful side effects.

Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, author, “If I’d Only Known…Sexual Abuse in or Out of the Family: A Guide to Prevention. Dr. Neddermeyer is noted for her pioneering work in verbal, physical, sexual abuse prevention and recovery. /