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Evidence Against the Use of Disciplinary Spanking

Evidence Against the Use of Disciplinary Spanking

The design of a research study is critical to the results it will yield.  If researchers desire accurate, objective results, then all aspects of the design must be considered.  Let’s take an in-depth look at this principle.

Bad Design Yields Poor Results

The research methods used in studies claiming to show adverse outcomes of disciplinary spanking would be shamefully disregarded if used to evaluate a particular medical treatment. It is well known that evaluations of medical treatments must carefully specify the indications and contraindications for the treatment, the appropriate medication dosage, and distinguish causal effects from correlations. The evidence against disciplinary spanking comes from research that ignores these factors as noted below.

Click here to Read More about the arguments against spanking


[i]  Baumrind, D, Larzelere, RE, & Cowan, PA. Ordinary physical punishment: Is it harmful? Comment on Gershoff (2002). Psychological Bulletin. 2002;128(4):580-589.

[ii]  Straus M. Should the use of corporal punishment by parents be considered child abuse? in Mason M & Gambrill E (eds). Debating Children’s Lives. 1994; pp 197-203. California: SAGE Publications

[iii]  Baumrind, D, Larzelere, RE, & Cowan, PA. Ordinary physical punishment: Is it harmful? Comment on Gershoff (2002). Psychological Bulletin. 2002;128(4):580-589.

[iv]  Ferguson, CJ.  Spanking, corporal punishment and negative long-term outcomes: A meta-analytic review of longitudinal studies. Clinical Psychology Review. 2013. 33:196–208.

[v]  Newby, R F, Fischer, M, & Roman, MA. Parent training for families of children with ADHD. School Psychology Review. 1991;20:252-265.

[vi]  Larzelere RE, Kuhn BR, Johnson, B. The intervention selection bias: an underrecognized confound in intervention research. Psychological Bulletin. 2004;130:2:289-303.

[vii]  Simons RL, Johnson C, & Conger RD. Harsh corporal punishment versus quality of parental involvement as an explanation of adolescent maladjustment. J Marriage and Family. 1994; 56:591-607.

[viii]  Larzelere RE & Merenda JA. The effectiveness of parental discipline for toddler misbehavior at different levels of child distress. Family Relations. 1994;43:480-488.

[ix]  Lyons J, Anderson R, Larson D. The use and effects of physical punishment in the home: A systematic review. Presentation to the Section on Bioethics of the American Academy of Pediatrics at the annual meeting, November 2, 1993.