Tuesday, April 13, 2010


So yet another article came out today showing a correlation between spanking and bullying. Gist of the study is that the authors believe this correlation infers causation (any Psych 101 student should shudder right about now), so spank your kid and he will become a bully.

Now, I would like to start by saying that I do not believe that spanking is the root of all evil, however, I think there are often better parenting methods/alternatives. But my biggest problem with this study is its blatant claim that correlation infers causation. I think its more likely that its a third variable.

There are wide varieties in parenting styles which have various strengths and weaknesses. Its been my experience (and I'm fairly sure I'd have an easy time finding research to back me up) that children who come from unhappy homes (ie: high levels of conflict, yelling, arguments, physical confrontations, abuse etc) are more likely to be bullies. So it would be my argument that those same parents that exhibit these behaviors are more likely to spank their children. It would also be interested in learning what the "frequent spankers" define spanking as - although this could run afoul of high levels of lying and/or if they do tell the truth then you get into duty to report issues.

This is not to say that if you spank your kid you must be an abusive parent. Far from it. But I do think that an abusive parent is infinitely more likely to spank and/or use other forms of physical punishment and have a bully for a kid. I think its third variable correlation.

And of course the paragraph that every pro-spanking person comes out with - as cliché as it sounds - I was spanked as a kid and I was far from a bully. But my mother only spanked us when we had done something dangerous. It was used for the shock value to get the message home.

That said I think you can be a good and effective parent and never spank your kid. I think its a personal choice and there are pros and cons to every variety of parenting.

One final thought/tangent:

"Spare the rod, spoil the child" is actually a mistranslation. Its "Spare the crook, spoil the child." Which to anybody who knows anything about sheep, makes infinitely more sense. Sheep are dumb. Its sad but true and honestly a lot of the things kids do are dumb. Its part of how they learn. Also sheep are covered with a nice thick layer of padding all over their bodies, AND their heads are so hard that males can run at each other full speed and butt heads and not get hurt. Hitting a sheep with a rod does absolutely no good. They do not even notice.

This is why every picture of every shepherd you've ever seen shows the shepherd carrying a crook and not a staff. People now days assume you use the straight part of the staff and beat sheep with it. As mentioned previously - that doesn't work. The reason for the big hook on the end of the crook is this - you hook the wayward sheep around the neck/head with it and guide them back into line.

Ponder that for a bit.

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