The Unknown Consequences Of Spanking

Spanking has been passed down down the generations as an efficient way to keep youngsters in check and prevent misbehavior.

Although its effect may be imperceptible to most, a recent study has revealed that spanking not only violates a child’s rights, but also causes academic, health, and relational issues as those youngsters grow into adults.

Has spanking really been effective in keeping children away from trouble? 

Many supporters of spanking and those who feel it is successful can’t exactly point to specific ways in which it helped them stop misbehaving as children; instead, they believe it was done for their own good and, incorrectly, that it caused them to stop misbehaving.

If that were the end of it, there would have been no wrongdoing except to them as individuals, but this group continues to use spanking as a means of enforcing proper behavior in children.

Following the 2007 United Nations agreement, which called for the prohibition of all types of physical and mental violence against children, many people are finally beginning to pay attention to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ warnings.

What does spanking do to your child? 

James Hamblin’s essay, “How Spanking Affects Later Relationships compiles the findings of numerous studies on the impacts of spanking.

Spanking, according to all of the researchers, is a bad thing that not only fails to remedy childhood excesses, but also leads to a slew of academic, health, and relationship issues down the road.

Most of the time, this results in cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disorders in children and teenagers. As a kid grows into an adult, spanking is associated with aggressive behavior, dating violence, and other forms of violence.

Consider these reasons for spanking — and their rebuttals

Parents spank for many reasons.

Some parents learned to spank from their family of origin.

Consider: Our history doesn’t need to be our destiny. There’s a path forward.

Some parents may misunderstand child development and appropriate discipline methods to match that development.

Consider: Resources are available to support adults in learning about what children need at various stages. 

Some parents believe that spanking is encouraged or mandated by their faith.

Consider: It’s a fallacy that most major belief systems, including Christianity, support spanking. Most of them, including Christianity, don’t.

What are the effects of spanking?

It slows development.

Children grow best, developmentally and otherwise, when they feel safe to do so. Children who feel emotionally safe don’t have to expend energy on self-protection.

Among the effects of spanking, however, are children who suffer the fear of being hit, smacked, swatted, or any of the other terms adults use to mean spanking. This fear is in direct opposition to children’s growth; in fact, it’s a strong force against it. 

The effects of spanking, resultantly, are that the child’s IQ and development slow to a lower rate than the child would otherwise experience.  

Some parents argue that spanking only when their child is very young, or only when the parent is no longer angry, is an acceptable way to use corporal punishment. Science disproves that.

There’s no situation, ever, when spanking doesn’t provide far more negative and damaging consequences than the sometimes perceived “win” of changed behavior.

Delayed development doesn’t make exceptions for when the adult argues that the spanking was “fine.”

It harms the brain.

The effects of spanking include a decline in children’s mental health; their brain literally can’t function as well as it otherwise would. A child’s subconscious simply can’t comprehend that the same adult who loves them would also physically harm them. 

This “disconnect” hinders healthy brain development.

Kids are literally wired to pursue connections with their trusted adults. We see it from the first moments of the child’s life where they seek the warm embrace of their mother, searching for her eyes and her breast.

As they grow, kids will continue to try to connect with her no matter what — even if it’s damaging to their well-being. (Needless to say, spanking isn’t exclusive to mothers; the point is that children biologically and naturally crave their primary caregivers’ love, no matter who it is.)

A child’s mental health, damaged by spanking, is not easy to recover once the relationship has suffered.

Even a decade later, a child who was spanked only as a toddler may still be suffering the repercussions. Furthermore, their behavior may actually deteriorate years later as a direct result of their prior corporal punishment!

The brain simply isn’t the same after spanking. It can’t be, because the spanking has altered it.

It creates trauma within the body.

Many parents believe that once the crying has stopped, the emotional effects of spanking have essentially worn off and that the child has “gotten over it.”

Perhaps surprisingly, just because the child has stopped crying, that does not mean that the body has forgotten what happened. On the contrary, the very opposite is true. The body stores the experience as trauma that may last for years beyond the actual spanking. 

Further, it sets up the child for future and ongoing trauma.

Do all children who are spanked end up with significant lifelong trauma? Not necessarily, but the odds are indeed stacked against them. The adult has no way to know to what extent the child will suffer, even if the adult perceives the punishment to be mild. 

What are the alternatives to spanking? 

The essay does a lot to discredit spanking and provides research to back up the accusations, but it’s not enough to paint it as harmful without providing an option for people to turn to.

Hamblin compiled a list of options, including communicating and engaging with the youngster. The truth is that these alternatives may not be successful right away because we live in a fast-paced society with pressures building up in front of everyone’s eyes, but when properly implemented, they will give rewards for the present and future.

It’s also critical that the debate over spanking begin at a national level and then spread to the fundamental roots of the problem.

We have no control over the present, and as a result, we risk losing control of the future entirely. Spanking is out of date, ineffectual, and will just cause greater problems in the future.

Teaching healthy connections and social practices, on the other hand, has proven to be beneficial over time. Spanking has a wide range of negative consequences.

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