Intervista a Elizabeth Gershoff
As far [back] as we have written records, people have been hitting children,” Gershoff tells me. Today, spanking — hitting a child on the buttocks with an open hand — is still incredibly common.
is it possible that parents throughout millennia — many with the best of intentions — were doing the right thing?
CI SIAMO SBAGLIATI?
In a recently published meta analysis in the Journal of Family Psychology, Gershoff and University of Michigan professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor sift through 75 studies, for a total data pool of nearly 161,000 children, and find “no evidence that spanking is associated with improved child behavior.”… spanking doesn’t do any measurable good
What’s more, the analysis finds evidence that spanking is associated with troublingoutcomes — like increased aggression, increased anti-social behavior, and mental health problems later in life. The size of these negative effects are small
it’s also possible that “bad” children are just spanked more, and are also generally more aggressive and anti-social throughout their lives.
One is parents think it works. And they think it works because it gets an immediate reaction out of the child.
EFFETTO A BREVE
children learn “you can hit to get what you want,” and “you can use aggression.” So those kids, not surprisingly, when they’re with their friends, are using aggression to do what they want
I PICCHIATI PIU’ AGGRESSIVI
the effect of spanking with the effect of more serious physical abuse on behavior later in life. You found that the effect size of spanking was .25 (a smallish effect). And the effect size of abuse was .38 (closer to a medium effect)… as a society we say, “When it’s physical abuse, that is definitely bad.” But what we’re showing is that there’s this continuum of violence…
ABUSO E BOTTE… NON CONFONDIAMO
What do you say to the people who say this data just show correlation rather than causation? EG: Let’s say if — in the real world — spanking was good for kids, some of these studies should have found that and found an effect in the other direction. [Only one study of the 75 found an effect linking spanking to a positive outcome.]… in order for that conclusion to be right, that spanking is good for kids, we have to have some correlations in that direction, but we don’t. All the correlations are in the negative direction.
Let’s be realistic, most people who were spanked were spanked as children. And as everyone likes to tell me, they turned out okay. And me included. I think I turned out okay despite being spanked.
If parents shouldn’t spank, what should they do instead when their kids really misbehave? EG: What’s difficult is that there is no magical disciplinary method that I can say works for all kids in all situations for all ages. If the goal is to teach children to behave, the most important thing is to teach. Explain to children