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Spanking Kids Is Falling Out Of Favour Among Parents: Data

03/09/2015 01:43 EDT | Updated 03/09/2015 01:59 EDT
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It appears that parents don't have the same enthusiasm for spanking that they used to.

Statistics released through the U.S.'s General Social Survey show that moms and dads today still overwhelmingly agree with spanking as a way of disciplining their children. But the proportion of parents who do it has fallen steadily since 1986.

Approximately 83.5 per cent of parents agreed with spanking as a way of disciplining their kids in 1986 and fell to 70.2 per cent last year.

By contrast, the number of parents who disagree with spanking has gone up, from 16.5 per cent in 1986 to 29.7 per cent in 2014. (These numbers result from adding the number of parents who "agree" and "strongly agree" together, as well as those who "disagree" and "strongly disagree.")

So it appears that research surrounding the negative effects of spanking is gradually influencing parents' opinions.

Murray Straus, founder of the University of New Hampshire's Family Research Laboratory, wrote in his 2013 book "The Primordial Violence" that spanking can "slow down mental development and [lower] the probability of a child doing well in school."

It can also make it more likely that a kid will hit other children, as well as their parents, or even a romantic partner when they grow older, he said.

Nevertheless, debate over spanking persists around the world.

France was scolded by the Council of Europe for not banning corporal punishment against children, in violation of the European Social Charter, The Globe and Mail reported last week.

In Canada, Section 43 of Canada's Criminal Code allows parents, guardians or teachers to "us[e] force by way of correction toward a pupil or child" so long as it doesn't "exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances."

Canadian Medical Association Journal editor John Fletcher argued in 2012 for that section to be removed, saying that physically punishing kids can lead to "increased childhood aggression and mental health issues in adulthood."

In that same year, Julie Di Mambro, a spokesperson for Justice Minister (at the time) Rob Nicholson, told The National Post that it's unlikely the law would change.

"Parents are in the best position to raise their children," she wrote in an email. "We believe it is up to them, not the government, to decide what is best for their children so long as it is within reason."

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