The Science and Statistics Behind Spanking Suggest that Laws Allowing Corporal Punishment are in the Best Interests of the Child

76 Pages Posted: 12 Mar 2009 Last revised: 10 Apr 2009

See all articles by Jason Fuller

Jason Fuller

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: March 11, 2009


Anti-spanking laws are proposed and passed with the hope that they will create a "cultural spillover" of non-violence, and a society that does not need correction. While such lawmaking may seem harmless, even commendable, the empirical data indicate that a spanking ban is a grave mistake.

With spanking bans have come increased rates of child abuse, aggressive parenting, and youth violence. Criminal records suggest that children raised under a spanking ban are much more likely to be involved in crime than other children. Accordingly, almost thirty years after Sweden became the world's first country to ban spanking, six out of ten Swedish children now feel vulnerable at school, and just as many have been victims of youth violence.

Perhaps it is no surprise that the methodologically sound research suggests that spanking is not harmful, and is often more helpful than other common discipline methods. On average, spanking seems to reduce aggression, defiance, and antisocial behavior better than mental punishments like timeout, reasoning, privilege removal, threats, verbal power assertion, ignoring, love withdrawal, or diverting. Indeed, the most friendly, stable, and competent children tend to come from "authoritative" families -- families that raise children with love, firm guidance, and at least occasional spanking.

Nevertheless, spanking's successes are largely ignored. Many philosophically oppose corporal punishment and praise spanking bans, but few honestly consider the entire body of child discipline statistics. Therefore, in this rapidly changing area of the law that lies at the heart of our children's education and future, only one side of the story is being told.

Keywords: spank, smack, slap, corporal punishment, physical discipline, barricade, timeout, time out, beat, hit, violent, harm, detriment, beneficial, aggression, child abuse, neglect, dependency, Straus, Larzelere, Spock, Sweden, U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child, human rights, psychology, religion

JEL Classification: I00, I1, I10, I18, I19, I2, I20, I28, I29, I3, I30, I31, I39, K00, K1, K10, K13, K19, K3, K32, K39

Suggested Citation

Fuller, Jason, The Science and Statistics Behind Spanking Suggest that Laws Allowing Corporal Punishment are in the Best Interests of the Child (March 11, 2009). Akron Law Review, Vol. 42, No. 243, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Jason Fuller (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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