Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the UNH Family Research Laboratory and professor emeritus of sociology, discusses the long-term implications of spanking.
A new book by Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Lab and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, brings together more than four decades of research that makes the definitive case against spanking, including how it slows cognitive development and increases antisocial and criminal behavior.
The United Nations is asking all nations to prohibit spanking.
Never spanking will not only reduce the risk of delinquency and mental health problems, it also will bring to children the right to be free of physical attacks in the name of discipline, just as wives gained that human right a century and a quarter ago,” Straus says.
“The Primordial Violence” (Routledge, 2013) shows that the reasons parents hit those they love includes a lot more than just correcting misbehavior.
It provides evidence on the effect spanking has on children, and what can be done to end it.
The book features longitudinal data from more than 7,000 U. families as well as results from a 32-nation study and presents the latest research on the extent to which spanking is used in different cultures and the subsequent effects of its use on children and on society.
“Research shows that spanking corrects misbehavior. But it also shows that spanking does not work better than other modes of correction, such as time out, explaining, and depriving a child of privileges.
This does not occur with the behaviors parents spank for—parents are often not around to see them or are not willing or able to spank immediately afterwards.
“If you are looking for gift that will increase your child’s chances for a happy and healthful life, including a good job and a violence-free marriage, the evidence in this book suggests it would be promising yourself to never spank. It is likely to increase their respect and love for you, and they will also help you stick to it.” “More than 20 nations now prohibit spanking by parents.
There is an emerging consensus that this is a fundamental human right for children.
In fact, spanking tends to increase child aggression.
“Spanking predicted increases in children’s aggression over and above initial levels [of aggressive behavior]” and “in none of these longitudinal studies did spanking predict reductions in children’s aggression over time” (p. Instead, spanking predicted increases in children’s aggression.
Darcia Narvaez is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Notre Dame.