Don't Hit Your Kids Forever?

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In Science Daily, a news website devoted to scientific news, an article has stated that a correlation has been found between parental use of physical discipline declining as their children grow (spanking, hitting, etc).  The article also states when physical discipline persists throughout childhood that children may be more likely to develop behavior problems in their teens and later years.  The research that supports this correlation was compiled at Universities such as Duke, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Auburn, and Indiana. These universities followed hundreds of children ages 5-16 on their study.

While the broad amount of researchers of this claim and its source makes it seem trustworthy, the provided information is vague at best.  The article is actually making two claims, one that physical discipline by parents tends to decrease as children develop, and another that children that are continuously disciplined in this manner throughout their development are more likely to have behavior problems.  Exactly what types of behavioral problems are exhibited is not identified in the article.  Also numbers such as the percentage of parents who used physical discipline and the increase in behavior problems shown by the children who are continuously physically disciplined versus their counterparts are not given.

While this claim may not be extraordinary, the severe lack of evidence given makes the results questionable.  Also the explanation that parents stop physically disciplining their kids as they grow is vague, and does not rule out rival hypothesis such as children may behave better if parents take a semi-violent stand against them when they are younger, exposing confirmation bias.

Personally I believe children should never be physically abused as other methods are more efficient and identify the bad behavior more satisfactorily, but this article does not necessarily take a stand against physical abuse in early childhood. This flaw could possibly make reader infer that physical correction of "naughty" children is okay to a certain point of development.  A preliminary study to this one should be conducted to find if there is any difference in behavioral problems in kids who are disciplined physically or by other means.

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This page contains a single entry by keimi002 published on November 20, 2011 11:53 PM.

Violence? No way. was the previous entry in this blog.

The Practicality of Corporal Punishment is the next entry in this blog.

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