How Spanking Affects Later Relationships []


Spanking looks to be instantly effective. If a child is misbehaving—if he keeps swearing, or playing with matches—and then you spank that child, the behavior stops immediately.

The effect is so apparently obvious that it can drive a sort of delusion. Lived experience tends to be more powerful than facts. One of the few memories that many people retain from early childhood is times they were spanked. The desire to believe it was “for our own good” is strong, if only because the alternative interpretation is bleak.

It’s in the face of personal experiences like these that science has been flailing for generations. Some 81 percent of Americans believe spanking is appropriate, even though decades of research have shown it to be both ineffective and harmful. The refrain I keep hearing is, “Well, I got spanked, and I turned out okay.”

[For more of this story, written by James Hamblin, go to]

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