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Spankings Under Fire

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Using spankings as a discipline tool is a hot topic in parenting circles and is often so controversial that some parents don't share their own spanking philosophy. Both sides believe that they are right, whether they are arguing that spanking teaches their child respect and discipline or that spankings decrease the parent-child bond.

Now a new voice is speaking up on the topic. Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Lab and professor emeritus of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, has written a book "The Primordial Violence" (Routledge, 2013) describing his anti-spanking viewpoint.

Straus is backed by research on the issue. Data was collected from more than 7,000 American families and a 32 nation study, and they support Straus's opinion that spanking is detrimental to children. Straus says research does show that spanking corrects behavior problems in children, but spanking does not correct behavior more than any other type of action, such as a time-out or taking away a privilege. Straus says spanking weakens the connection between parent and child, slows down mental development and lowers educational success. Straus's research shows a child who is spanked is more likely to hit other children or parents and may be violent in relationships as an adult.

Straus and the research team say that spanking is never acceptable and parents everywhere should be educated on the topic so they don't harm children. The team recommends starting an educational campaign against spanking, which includes warnings on birth certificates at hospitals that detail the negative impact of spanking on children.

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