Corporal Punishment and Child Development

62 Pages Posted: 2 Sep 2012

See all articles by Jason Fuller

Jason Fuller

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2010


Some children seem to mature just fine without corporal punishment. But some other children don’t. Like it or not, some children seem to have a very hard time learning and maturing normally without concrete lessons from tangible discipline methods — like spanking.

This unpopular phenomenon is supported by things like: (1) the only randomized clinical trials that have ever compared corporal punishment (spanking) and mental punishments (like timeout); (2) perhaps the most extensive child development study ever done — the Family Socialization Project by the University of California, Berkeley; and (3) comparing the favorable crime and achievement rates of countries that rely on corporal punishment (like Singapore) to the unfavorable rates in countries that ban spanking (like Sweden).

Such evidence and the concepts developed in the author’s previous publication (The Science and Statistics Behind Spanking) lay a foundation for this article. This article proposes an explanation for why spanking appears to be so helpful to some children, especially younger children.

As researchers like Dr. Jean Piaget of the University of Geneva popularized, kids begin learning from the tangible and progress to the intangible — from the concrete to the abstract. At least for some children, it appears that spanking caters to this phenomenon as being more concrete than other discipline methods. As such, it seems to help give some children the tangible, concrete foundation that they need in a way that more abstract discipline methods may not.

Keywords: spank, smack, slap, corporal punishment, physical discipline, barricade, timeout, time out, beat, hit, violent, harm, child, best interest, child abuse, maltreatment, neglect, dependency, Straus, Piaget, Sweden, Singapore, 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, K14, K19, K30, K3

Suggested Citation

Fuller, Jason, Corporal Punishment and Child Development (2010). Akron Law Review, Vol. 44, No. 1, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Jason Fuller (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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