The study highlighted the many harmful consequences of corporal punishment, including the emotional, behavioural and physical outcomes. Picture: Pixabay

In our second installment of our positive parenting series, we take a look at the long-term effects spanking has.

Most parents are indoctrinated with that famous proverb “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Many were brought up believing that discipline comes in the form of a hard hiding. In hindsight, we know now that spanking has detrimental effects on a child.

Kaashifa King is parent education facilitator and counsellor with The Parent Centre. She mentions a landmark study (based on research conducted over 50 years) by Elizabeth Gershoff, which was published in 2002. 

The study highlighted the many harmful consequences of corporal punishment, including the emotional, behavioural and physical outcomes. 

“It clearly identified that corporal punishment has only one positive outcome, and that is short term benefit of immediate compliance,” she added.

And when it comes to physical discipline? Are there any positive spinoffs from spanking a child?

"Gershoffs study showed that there is only one positive outcome and that is short term compliance. If we understand children we will know that their misbehaviour are signs or clues of unmet needs, a cry for help or distress.

"Many a times with very young children, they simply do not have the ability to regulate emotions because of immature brain development. For children, emotions drive behaviour, thus it would not be helpful to hit a child for something that they have no control over. 

"We need to change the way we see children and we need to realise that parents are agents of change in the home. It takes great courage to learn positive parenting skills."

Useful links:

  • The Parent Centre: theparentcentre.org.za
  • Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children: endcorporalpunishment.org
  • The Teddy Bear Clinic: ttbc.org.za/