Connecticut Families Extra: How spanking impacts a child’s well-being

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By some reports, 70 percent of American parents think it’s sometimes acceptable to spank. At the same time, the American Academy of Pediatrics says corporal punishment is harmful. 

Now new research seems to bolster earlier findings on spanking and a child’s well-being.

Riley Engstrom spends his evening hours playing dinosaurs or dolls. Whatever six-year-old Aryeanna is in the mood for. 

“Building that relationship so that when my daughter grows older she knows she always has me. That’s definitely the most important thing,” said  Engstrom.

And when Ayreanna acts up, Riley and his partner are quick to correct her, but … 

“We don’t really spank ever,” said Engstrom.

“There’s been a lot of research over the past several decades and this research is clear from the United States and other high-income countries that spanking is harmful to kids,” said Garrett Pace, Doctoral Student at the University of Michigan.

Garrett Pace and his colleagues wanted to know if spanking had the same impacts in middle and low-income countries. 

Using surveys from the United Nation’s Children’s Fund, researchers examined data from 215,000 kids in 62 countries. They looked at the relationship between spanking and how mothers reported their child was faring. 

“What we found was that spanking was associated with lower child well-being,” said Pace.

Pace says parents who spanked their child reported their child was more aggressive, biting, hitting, and kicking other kids. He says the findings strengthen evidence that spanking is harmful.

Instead, he says parents should explain in age-appropriate terms what the child has done wrong, and the implications. Riley says they are fair, but firm with Aryeanna.

“When she does stuff wrong, we get down on her eye level. Make sure she knows why it’s bad, and what it could ultimately lead to,” said Engstrom.

Garrett Pace says 54 countries around the world have banned spanking. He says in the United States, Some states have worked to ban spanking, mostly recently Hawaii. 

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