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The Controversial Issue of Spanking and Its Effects

  • Subject: Life
  • Category: Family
  • Essay Topic: Spanking
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 1557
  • Published: 09 Jun 2021
  • Downloads: 31
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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Article 1
    Article 2
  3. Historical Perspective of Spanking
  4. Article with a stronger argument
  5. Logic Fallacies
  6. Significance to the World
  7. References


In many parts of the world, particularly the West, there is a history of parents and guardians being allowed to spank their children as a way of instilling discipline. In one way or the other, spanking seems to be instantly effective since a misbehaving child immediately stops what they were doing. Majority of the people used to view this in the perspective that it worked best for their children and it was a way of showing love to them. The effect can result in a sort of delusion bearing in mind that experiences are more powerful and profound as compared to facts. The number of times children get spanked remains to be part of their memory they get to retain till their adulthood. However, there is a call to answer some of the questions as to whether as to whether it is worthwhile for children to get spanked. Some of these questions should seek to answer the long-term effect of spanking or if it is better to instill physical punishment.

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Below is an explanation of two articles that will be explained in brief in regard to the controversial issue of spanking. A history point of view and theories to the controversy will also be given not to mention the theories for the same. Through examining the evidence provided in the articles, an explanation will be given in order to create a stronger argument. Logical fallacies will be identified and a description of how significant the matter at hand is significant to the world.

Article 1

In their article, Rush and Miller-Perrin (2018) examined attitudes, professional practices and ethical beliefs in relation to spanking. The study used a sample of 3,000 American Psychological Association members who were engaged in an online survey and participants from whom 782 completed it with a response rate of 28%. The findings were overwhelming in that psychologist are not for the idea of parents spanking their children. A majority of them, 86% to be precise were believed that it is a bad technique of instilling discipline. 71% of them regarded to spanking as a cause of harm to children whereas 72% would by no means advise parents to use it. In fact, most of them saw it as unethical to advise parents to spank them no matter the circumstance.

Most of the psychologists surveyed believed that it would be wise for the APA to adopt policies in order to discourage the act of not only spanking but also any other form of physical punishment. In as much as most of the participants, we conscious of the research conducted on spanking, a minority or were unsure of the implications of children’s development. After performing regression analysis, it was discovered that the recommendations provided by the psychologists we in relation to their personal attitudes, experiences, and ethical beliefs. The findings were a suggestion to that there was a significant shift in their opinions for the past 18 years. The article breaks down each of the findings for policy and practice.

Article 2

Gabriela Barajas-Gonzalez et al. (2018) aimed at examining the prevalence and correlation of spanking and verbal punishment narrowing their study to Latino immigrant families with young children. Moreover, the association of spanking and verbal punishment was child internalizing and externalizing problems a year later were also examined. The potential moderators were parenting and cultural contexts. A sample of 633 Dominican American and Mexican immigrant families with young children with an average of 4.43 years was assessed through parent self-report. After a period of 12 months, both parent and teacher assessments of internalizing and externalizing were collected.

The researchers discovered that there was a positive correlation for the male child in regard to spanking while, on the other hand, a negative one in relation to mother’s spanking with familial social support as well as the knowledge of the American culture. Verbal punishment initially, was linked with externalizing problems while at the second time associated with both Dominican American and Mexican children, a relation that had no moderation. However, the study asserted that the associations between spanking and later child internalizing or externalizing behaviors were of no significance. The study concluded by showing how important it is for researchers to examine the verbal and physical discipline techniques in order to have an understanding of their influences on Latino child outcomes. In addition, such research would help bring the contextual influences which are likely to elucidate the use and long-term effects of verbal punishment and spanking on these children at different stages of their development into perspective.

Historical Perspective of Spanking

Physical punishment of children has long been viewed as an appropriate method for controlling and correcting the behavior of children. Nonetheless, practices and attitudes pertaining to this form of punishment have dramatically changed over the years. According to Global Initiative to End Corporal Punishment of Children (2017), not less than 50 countries have banned parents from spanking their children. Sweden was the first country to ban physical punishment whereby their beliefs in the relevance of physical punishment were declining before enforcing these laws and still continues to go downhill (Lasoford et al., 2017). Similarly, the US is experiencing this declined but spanking still remains the norm.

The issue of physical punishment particular spanking remains to be a subject under the social scientists’ radar. Gershoff & Grogan-Kaylor (2016) assert that spanking brings more harm than good. Regardless of such evidence, not all psychologists agree to the effectiveness of spanking which has significant implications for recommending policies and practices.

Article with a stronger argument

Miller-Perrin & Rush’s article provides a stronger argument as far as psychological punishment and spanking are concerned. The article bases its argument on answering questions as to whether the above-named is an effective approach to improve child compliance and whether it is harmful to a child’s development. The main objective is to examine whether the methodology is sufficient enough to draw a conclusion as to whether spanking plays any role in child developmental outcomes. Leaning towards research within the past years, Miller-Perrin & Rush (2018) assert that different conclusions have been made by several studies conducted over the past 15 years. Simply put, physical punishment is harmful and ineffective as it is linked to negative child developmental outcomes. Research on the negative outcomes related to non-abusive physical punishment shows a correlation between spanking and deleterious results.

Logic Fallacies

Over the past years, some medical organizations and a myriad of media outlets have claimed that spanking results to emotional harm thus predisposing them to aggressive behavior in their old age. In as much as parents at times over-use or rather misuse spanking, the question that always remains is whether science well addresses the claim that persistent spanking could result in irreplaceable harm. In their paper, Larzelere & Trumbull (2017) asserts that most research against spanking has erroneous methods. They further state that the anti-spanking research faces three major defects or fallacies which invalidate its conclusions. The first one is the correlational fallacy, in which associations between two variables are not an indication of causation in any way. Correlations can be misleading especially when an evaluation of actions to correct medical or disciplinary problems need to be done. Secondly, the extrapolation fallacy shows that despite infrequent spanking is associated with better results as compared to overly frequent ones, there is no strong basis for one to assert that zero spanking is the best. The third is the lumping fallacy where 5 out of 75 studies done were limited to tow open-handed swats to the buttocks for child defiance. The rest were lumped together thus all spanking despite its nature and reason.

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Significance to the World

Spanking is a common and controversial childbearing practice not only in the US but also in other nations of the world. Therefore, spanking remains to be an issue of concern as a form of discipline where some see still it see it as an effective way of instilling discipline while others have other opinions. Shedding some light on this subject is one way that would help the society specifically parents in raising their children. Healthcare practitioners including psychologist play a key role in influencing parents on the use of physical punishment. According to research, spanking results to long-term effect therefore, it is necessary to be enlightened on the best ways to instill discipline without harm or other negative effects.


  • Gabriela Barajas-Gonzalez, R., Calzada, E., Huang, K. Y., Covas, M., Castillo, C. M., & Brotman, L. M. (2018). Parent spanking and verbal punishment, and young child internalizing and externalizing behaviors in Latino immigrant families: Test of moderation by context and culture. Parenting, 18(4), 219-242.
  • Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children. (2017). Countdown to universal prohibition. Retrieved from
  • Lansford, J. E., Cappa, C., Putnick, D. L., Bornstein, M. H., Deater-Deckard, K., & Bradley, R. H. (2017). Change over time in parents’ beliefs about and reported use of corporal punishment in eight countries with and without legal bans. Child abuse & neglect, 71, 44-55.
  • Larzelere, E. R, & Trumbull, D. A. (2017). Research on Disciplinary Spanking is Misleading. American College of Pediatricians. Retrieved from
  • Miller-Perrin, C., & Rush, R. (2018). Attitudes, knowledge, practices, and ethical beliefs of psychologists related to spanking: A survey of American Psychological Association division members. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 24(4), 405.
  • Taylor, C. A., Moeller, W., Hamvas, L., & Rice, J. C. (2013). Parents’ professional sources of advice regarding child discipline and their use of corporal punishment. Clinical pediatrics, 52(2), 147-155.

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