Corporal Punishment Makes Children ‘Aggressive and Antisocial’ - Study

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A new study has found that striking children as a means of punishment for so-called bad behavior makes them more aggressive and antisocial.

In the study, lead researcher Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff at the University of Texas at Austin recorded the behavior of children whose parents did not use corporal punishment and those that did. The research, published in Psychological Science, showed a clear increase in behavioral problems from the ages of five-eight in the group of children who were hit. 

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"It affected how often they argue with other children, fight, act impulsively and disturb activities in the classroom," Gershoff explained, cited by the Independent.

A controlled experiment would require asking parents to smack their children, which is unethical.

However, by dividing 12,112 children into groups of those who are hit and those who are not, and comparing various character traits of the two groups, researchers were able to draw links.

One of the main links between corporal punishment and bad behavior, according to Gershoff, is that children do not learn self-control.

"What smacking teaches them is that when the parent is around, they should behave, otherwise they will be hit," she said. "The child does not learn how to manage themselves when the parent is not around."

Gershoff observed that the results of her study show that corporal punishment "doesn't work."

"All of us get frustrated when things don't go our way. Our job as parents is to teach children how to handle that," added Gershoff.

"Smacking isn't teaching those things," she said. 

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Currently, 53 nations have banned hitting children, including Scotland, who has stated that a ban on the corporal punishment of children is the same as protecting adults from physical assault.

Organizations exist that oppose the legislative banning of corporal punishment. One campaign group, "Be Reasonable Scotland," claims that "parents should decide whether to smack their children, not the government."

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