New study shows that children who are spanked are more successful

Story here in the UK Telegraph. (H/T Andrew)


A study found that youngsters smacked up to the age of six did better at school and were more optimistic about their lives than those never hit by their parents.

They were also more likely to undertake voluntary work and keener to attend university, experts discovered.

The research, conducted in the United States, is likely to anger children’s rights campaigners who have unsuccessfully fought to ban smacking in Britain.

[…]Those who had been smacked up to the age of six performed better in almost all the positive categories and no worse in the negatives than those never punished physically.

Teenagers who had been hit by their parents from age seven to 11 were also found to be more successful at school than those not smacked but fared less well on some negative measures, such as getting involved in more fights.

However, youngsters who claimed they were still being smacked scored worse than every other group across all the categories.

Prof Gunnoe found little difference in the results between sexes and different racial groups.

I find it interesting that the recent anti-smacking law in New Zealand was championed by Labor Party prime minister Helen Clark and Green Party MP Sue Bradford. These two are members of the secular left in New Zealand.

Spanking is opposed by the secular left because they oppose all moral judgments, personal responsibility, and accountability. They seem to have a hostility to any objective moral standard that defines good and evil, but instead embrace moral relativism. They want to be allowed to do anything they feel like doing, regardless of the harm and costs incurred, and to get off Scot-free in the end.

The following video explains the worldview of the secular left better than anything I’ve seen. They think that wars are caused by disagreements, so the best way to prevent wars is to support what is traditionally regarded as evil, and to denigrate what is traditionally regarded as good. When all distinctions between good and evil have been abolished, they think that the world will be a better place.

That is why they do not want parents teaching their children any standard of conduct. They view this as a setback to their goal of destroying all moral distinctions.

I do agree with the thrust of the article that spanking should cease as soon as the child is able to make connections between behaviors and rewards rationally.

18 thoughts on “New study shows that children who are spanked are more successful”

  1. My siblings and I got spanked. My parents were very purposeful about it – they sent us to their room, made us wait, and then came in with an explanation and a belt.

    Of course, there were also times when my mom made us go pick a switch from the crape myrtle tree. That was the worst.

    But they never hit us in the face or out of anger. The number of licks we got was always proportional to our offense (talking back to Mom got us the most licks if Dad was dealing them out).

    I think I turned out alright :) I’m certainly not a violent or “troubled” person. Conversely, my dad spent several years working overseas right at the age my brother needed the most discipline, and my Mom never spanked him. He ended up dropping out of high school and doing drugs and getting into fights. Coincidence?


    1. Sounds like your parents did it exactly right. I don’t think there should be any shouting and screaming.

      The other thing I thought of is that in our case, we got spanked for things like report cards. And, looking back, I think that my parents could have done a better job of monitoring our progress during the year. This might involve talking to teachers, monitoring that homework got done, checking notebooks, and proportioning rewards to interim results all throughout the year. I’m rather excited by the thought of trying out my ideas about monitoring homework and giving rewards for independent study, and stuff. But I know that parenting is very hectic, disorganized and unpredictable.


  2. I think consistency is the most important rule.

    Like KelliD said, the punishment was proportional to the infraction.

    For us is was 3 swats (always on the bottom, unless we got something in the way ourselves) for most infractions. Because honesty was super important, we got “Triples” (3×3=9) for lying.

    For super serious infractions (like when I nearly burned down the house and lied about it all evening), repeated recalcitrance (like when I yelled at mom repeatedly), and the like, we’d get until dad’s arm got tired or he felt we were suitably impressed with the gravity of our crime.

    Wintery, I’d counter your suggested end time of swats corresponding with the children’s rationality. I knew things were wrong morally, ethically, spiritually, and according to the bruises on my buttocks long before the fear of the rod ceased to be a benefit.

    Some of my worst infractions (I was a difficult kid and anticipate at least one copycat in my own kids, God help me) occured between 12 and 15 and I needed every single thwack I got, plus some. For some of my crimes a serious spanking was a light sentence.

    But consistency is the most important thing. When the child and the parent knows the rules and has a reasonable expectation of the punishment allotted for each infraction, there is much less room for the impassioned beatings, screaming matches, and other damaging punishments meted out by parents punishing by the seat of their pants.

    Consistency helps prevent excessive punishment as surely as it helps prevent deficits of punishment.

    A stable system is the best for allowing children to be able to trust in their parents and family and home.


  3. Sadly, any force for the purpose of correction is now illegal in New Zealand. You heard that right, any force. So even light smack is illegal!

    The idiots in New Zealand argue that there is no difference between light smack and assault.

    There has been link between that law and offering of UN position. Yep, UN got their fingers on too many pies, even in this little country in this corner of the world.


    1. Actually, technically even telling off your kids could be illegal under the new law, since the assault definition in the crimes act covers verbal threats too.


  4. Did they compare between those that were physically punished and all the others? This would mean that some of these people could come from families that do not have any (or low) discipline. This would in turn introduce a serious bias in the study.

    I have a really good discipline in my house, but absolutely no spanking. Would you for example spank a child for hitting a school comrade? That would be just plain ridiculous… Hitting a child to punish him for hitting someone. How would the child interpret that?

    By being creative in your (non-corporeal) punishment, by reinforcing good behavior and punishing bad ones, by being loving, attentive and understanding, you simply don’t need spanking.

    Just my thought.

    (and no… I’m not from the “secular left”)


    1. If the parents do it right, and take time to explain it, the kid learns that even though two things look the same on the surface, there are deeper differences that make one appropriate and the other inappropriate. That’s an important lesson to learn about more things than just hitting. It’s not just about what the child “interprets”, but what the parents teach.


    2. “Hitting a child to punish him for hitting someone. How would the child interpret that?”

      It is a slippery slope. Here in New Zealand, after years of indoctrination with similar thinking like that, we end up with so politicians who claim we can not differentiate between light smack and assault.

      Then finally, any force for the purpose of correction is outlawed. This is despite more than 80% of the citizens rejected the law via referendum.

      Many good parents have been prosecuted now under this new law.


  5. My Dad, God rest his soul, died when I was nine. He beat the crap out of me many times and for most I don’t even remember why. My mother says she used to worry because he always stopped for a couple on the way home. So my beatings were not controlled. Yelling always accompanied the beating. Besides just his hand, I got it with a moccasin and his belt. My brother and I decided we should never piss him off on Sunday. His dress belt, that he wore most of the day after church, was narrow. The belt he wore during the week while working on a road construction crew was wide and displaced the force to a somewhat more tolerable level. This belt would hang over the phone in the kitchen under which he sat during dinner. When his five kids got out of hand, he’d simply reach up behind his head and touch that belt and peace would reign o’er the dinner table. Sometimes, I’d look at my butt in the bathroom mirror and see red handprints. Man, he beat my ass.

    Yet, through it all, never, ever did I for a moment doubted he loved me. Isn’t that wild? He really did love his kids like you wouldn’t believe. His rage was actually disappointment guided by the culture in which HE was raised. But he was boss and second only to God. And I’ve done alright for the most part. No lasting effects except for this nervous twitch.

    Just kidding about the twitch.


  6. If you are going to cite a research study to support a controversial position especially, one would expect a citation so that your readers can verify the credibility of the claims, the study, etc. Otherwise, it looks like you are just out to offer “pseudo science” to support preconceived biases. If you are not ashamed of the research, give the researchers credit for it and cite them properly.


  7. I certainly and without a doubt support the right of parents to use spanking if they choose. No question about it.

    However, it won’t be a method that I use with my daughter. My wife was a victim of abuse, so this is a road we do not want to go down. Its too painful.

    But what we can and already do is be strict and punish by other means. I sometimes physically restrain her until she gives in to my instruction.


    1. I understand Rob. It’s not for everyone, and your daughter is probably not a monstress. But it should be your choice to do it or not, depending on your judgment as the father. I don’t think a few swats on the bottom after you calm down, and hug her after, would be horrible if she did something really bad.


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