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Lawmakers In Scotland Are Working On Banning Spankings As A Form Of Punishment

The Scottish Parliament has introduced a law that would make it illegal for parents to spank kids. The law could be on the books soon, but Scotland isn't the first country to have such a law.

So far, 52 other nations have come on board with no-spanking laws, mostly from Europe. Some people applaud the laws, saying they're long past due.

Others believe that such laws are interfering with parents who want to discipline their kids.

For many parents, spanking is the go-to punishment for kids who are out of control. Many of these parents say that they themselves were spanked as a child, and not only did they survive it, but they thrived because of it.

"I am #prospanking in schools. I experienced it in the 60s and it helped me have respect," tweeted one person who supports spanking.

People who support spanking often conflate spanking with discipline; to not spank a child is, in their minds, not disciplining a child. Not disciplining a child is, of course, unacceptable, as it is the responsibility of a parent, and other adults in a child's life, to correct bad behavior.

On the other side of the argument are people who are against spankings altogether. These people seem to conflate all corporal punishment with child abuse.

Unfortunately for the spankers, most of the data is not backing their arguments. Some of the most comprehensive studies have shown spanking to ultimately be ineffective at best, and harmful at worst.

One recent 50-year study of more than 160,000 children found that repeated spankings were linked to increased mental health problems, cognitive difficulties, aggression and antisocial behavior, and overall less successful in life.

The study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology. “We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, author of the study.

“Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

Though most child experts have agreed for years that spanking should be discouraged, many parents continue to tout spanking as effective. They believe that ever since spanking became frowned upon, kids have gotten more and more out of control.

"There needs to be less gun control and more child control, i.e. spanking," said one person on Twitter.

Some pro-spanking studies contradict the anti-spanking studies. Clinical psychologist Dr.Ray Guarendi of the Children's Hospital of Akron, Ohio led a short-term study that found 70% of the most 'outstanding' students in schools across the nation were in homes that employed spanking as a punishment.

Studies that conclude spanking shows no harm, or that it is beneficial, are rarely touted by mainstream media or given serious attention from experts.

The real issue might lie somewhere in the middle. Just like any other punishment, a lot depends on how it’s doled out, and the overall approach to discipline.

Some parents can take spanking too far, bordering real abuse. Some parents simply don’t employ any other effective means of discipline, and spanking alone isn’t going to get the right messages across to children.

Some are more likely to spank out of frustration or when tired, instead of keeping discipline more consistent. By the time they get to the spanking, they’ve already dropped the ball.

On the other hand, there are parents who decided not to spank their kids, but they haven’t had any other parenting model, so they don’t know how to employ non-spanking discipline techniques effectively. Being overly-permissive and lacking in discipline can be as detrimental to kids as erratic, violent discipline.

Perhaps instead of banning parenting methods across-the-board, governments should focus on helping to educate parents to use more effective discipline techniques.

Source: AWM
Photo: AWM, YouTube

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