Spare the rod, the rod is what’s spoiling the child: Research

New research by the University of Michigan has looked into the effects of spanking children in poorer countries.

According to the university they took data collected by UNICEF in 62 countries, focusing on three-to-four-year-olds.

About a third of the caregivers said they believed physical punishment was necessary, and amongst the children studied 43% were spanked, or lived in a home where another child was spanked.

The caregivers were basically asked if their kids got on with other children, if they engaged in violence and if they got distracted easily.

The kids who got hit – were more likely to have these behavioral problems.

“It appears that in this sample … spanking may do more harm than good,” Garrett Pace, the study’s lead author and a doctoral student of social work and sociology, in a statement.

This is pretty much in line with previous studies done in wealthier countries, what separates this research from prior studies is simply the focus on poorer nations.

You can read the research on Science Direct.

My Take

One of the neat things about science is its ability to go against “common sense” – and find results which we wouldn’t expect, and yet it makes sense.

The era in which corporal punishment ruled the roost in South African schools did not result in a largely peaceful populace.

Much as our laws are now fairly progressive – the use of violence against children in order to instill discipline in them is still fairly common, and I for one don’t see much evidence that it actually works.

But we still have this ingrained belief that if you hit someone you can intimidate them into good behaviour.

I suspect if we want to build up a generation of better South Africans, we’re going to have to do it by modelling what that better South African is supposed to look like, rather than relying on the fear of the rod to do it for us.


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