A recently published study suggests that spanking is no longer the parents’ method of choice when it comes to disciplining children. Instead, “time outs” and other non-physical punishment methods are gaining more popularity, showing that more and more American parents are adopting an alternative education method.
The study shows that in 23 years, 25 percent of middle-income mothers convinced themselves that physical punishment is not an appropriate education method. Moreover, during the same time, the percentage of mothers that apply the “time out” procedure has spiked from 41 percent in 1988 to 81 percent in 2011.
Rebecca Ryan, the lead author of the study, declared that the reason why more and more mothers are replacing spanking with time-outs is the avalanche of social studies linking spanking to negative outcomes.
Ever since the 1990s, researchers have been analyzing the long-term effect of spanking, discovering that children who received physical punishment during their youth had more chances of developing antisocial behavior or an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Ryan added that there is little evidence to support the popular belief that spanking or other forms of physical discipline are efficient in reducing the number of unwanted child behavior episodes.
The paper, published on November 14th in the online version of the Pediatrics journal, details the study based on various surveys conducted between 1988 and 2011 on caregivers of infants aged 5 and higher.
Over 20 percent of mothers from all income levels declared they replaced spanking with a non-physical punishment method.
The surveys showed that by the end of the 1990s, an income gap was forming as higher income parents were more likely to use the “time-out” method than those from a low-income environment.
However, the number of spanking incidents are still falling as only one in three mothers from low-income families admitted to using spanking as the disciplinary method of choice. Moreover, one in four interviewed caregivers spanked a child in the week before the study.
The authors admit that the study may have its flaws at the surveys it was based on focused more on low-income families. Furthermore, they relied heavily on the testimony of the mothers, so there is a possibility that the claims of the participants do not match the reality of their disciplinary methods.
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