To justify removing this option from parents, spanking prohibitionists first need to show causal evidence that spanking is detrimental in situations where it is considered most appropriate by parents, children, and psychologists.
(9) Undoubtedly, some parents can be authoritative without using spanking, but we have no evidence that all or even most parents can achieve authoritative parenting without an occasional spank.
This article summarizes the scientific evidence on child outcomes of spanking, emphasizing causal evidence under conditions considered most appropriate for its use by parents and psychologists.
Much of the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding use or non-use of spanking could be avoided if parents better understood that, in most cases, the physical nature of a spanking probably has little to do with the effects of spanking on children's later emotional and behavioral development--for better or for worse.
The quality of family life, in general, and the circumstances that lead up to and follow punishment of a child, in particular, may be much more influential than whether or not punishment involves a spanking. The main reason for this, and one that many parents understand intuitively, is that spanking a child is just a type of punishment: the real impact of punishment stems from how a parent delivers it and from how a child reacts to it and perceives it.
For example, children and parents in many families may consider spanking a serious consequence brought on by serious misbehavior, such as physically dangerous acts.
Spanking is an age-old tradition in Black America and many well-adjusted and successful African-Americans recall with pride stories of having been sent out into the yard to get a switch so their mothers, fathers, grandmothers or grandfathers could tan their hides.
Unless I spank him now, he will get a spanking later -- by the guys on the corner, by the police or in jail."
They all then contradicted themselves and said that while they felt they did benefit from the spanking
, they would never spank their own children.
If you are an alert parent, you probably have surmised that professionals in the field of psychology have reached something of a consensus on the subject of spanking. I refer here to a swat on the bottom with a hand, not hitting the child with any sort of object and no hitting hard enough to cause much more than a loss of dignity.
In my opinion, this across-the-board condemnation of spanking is based more on personal attitudes than professional studies.
A history of spanking from parents was associated with adult antisocial behavior, adult mental health problems, and adult support for physical punishment.
Of particular note, Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor (2016) questioned whether spanking would be associated with detrimental child outcomes when studies relying on harsh and potentially abusive methods were removed.
His studies, he says, demonstrate a strong correlation between spanking and psychological trauma-- specifically, depression and suicide.
More importantly, Straus' studies -- along with all similar studies on the subject -- are hopelessly flawed by making little or no distinction between simple spanking and severe physical abuse.