Spanking Creates Bullies
By Wendy Priesnitz
“If we really want a peaceful and compassionate world, we need to build
communities of trust where all children are respected.” ~ Desmond M.
Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus, Global Initiative to End All Corporal
Punishment of Children, 2006
If you hit
your child, you give them a message that it’s okay to hit others. And
when kids hit others, we call it bullying.
published in 2010 in the journal Pediatrics examining the case histories
of almost two thousand five hundred American children confirms that
spanking breeds bullies. The study used respondents to the Fragile
Families and Child Well-being Study, conducted in twenty U.S. cities
between 1998 and 2005.
Dr. Catherine Taylor of Tulane University and her team factored out the
influences such as maternal mental health and use of drugs, domestic
violence, neglect, income, age, race, and education. And spanking
emerged as the most important factor in determining which three-year-old
children developed into aggressive five-year-olds.
half of the three-year-olds spanked more than twice in the previous
month by their mothers turned into aggressive five-year-olds, even when
accounting for the child’s level of “natural” aggression at age three.
Forty percent of the kids spanked only once or twice in the previous
month turned into bullies by age five.
studies have connected spanking and aggression in children, although
this was the first and one of the largest and demonstrates just how
powerful the link is. In 2002, psychologist Elizabeth Thompson Gershoff
of Columbia University’s National Center for Children in Poverty
analyzed 62 years of data and found spanking leads not only to childhood
aggression but other antisocial behaviors such as lying and cheating,
and other types of misbehaviors behind their parent’s backs.
Unfortunately, spanking is still legal in many countries, including both
Canada and the U.S., and most parents, when surveyed, say they approve
of and have used spanking as a form of child discipline. In fact,
according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, spanking happens at
least once a week in twenty-five percent of two-parent, middleclass
families. Twenty-four countries ban spanking, including Sweden, New
Zealand, and Spain.
Nonviolent Communication www.cnvc.org
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and
Reason by Alfie Kohn (Artria Books, 2005)
For Your Own
Good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence by Alice
Miller (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990)
Never Lies: The Lingering Effects of Cruel Parenting by Alice Miller
(W.W. Norton, 2006)
Conscious Parenting Without
Discipline, an interview with Dr. Shefali Tsabary in Natural Child Magazine, May/June 2014
Wendy Priesnitz is the editor of Natural Child
Magazine, has been a journalist for forty years, and has authored thirteen
books and contributed to many more.