ERIC Number: ED377989
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1994
Reference Count: N/A
Ten Myths about Spanking Children.
Straus, Murray A.
One of a series of studies on corporal punishment of children, this paper argues that the reasons provided for the strong support of spanking are myths. Ten myths about spanking children are discussed by offering arguments that support the action and by quoting findings from studies that refute the arguments. The ten myths are: (1) spanking works better than other methods; (2) spanking is needed as a last resort; (3) spanking is harmless; (4) one or two instances will not cause damage; (5) parents cannot stop unless they get training in alternatives; (6) without spanking, children will be spoiled or run wild; (7) parents do it only rarely or only for serious problems; (8) parents stop spanking by the time a child is a teenager; (9) if parents do not spank, they will verbally abuse a child; and (10) it is unrealistic to expect parents never to spank. The paper notes that while some of these myths are about the effectiveness of spanking, others are about the harmlessness of spanking. The paper then suggests some of the reasons for the persistence of these two types of myths. The central reason for the first type of myth is "selective inattention," whereby people do not pay attention to or remember the times when spanking fails to work because doing so contradicts what they believe to be true. That is, people have a vested interest in believing that their parents were correct. This, in turn, raises the question why most Americans defend spanking, and several reasons are offered for it. The two important reasons for the second type of myth are that the harmful effects do not become visible right away and that only a small percentage of spanked children experience obviously harmful effects. The paper concludes by noting that although the principle of respect for minority rights and family privacy conflict with the principle that it is wrong to treat children in ways that might threaten their physical and mental health, there is enough evidence to seek an accommodation between our commitment to individual freedom and our commitment to the well-being of children and of society. Contains 30 references. (BAC)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Mental Health (DHEW), Rockville, MD.; New Hampshire Univ., Durham.
Authoring Institution: New Hampshire Univ., Durham. Family Research Lab.