Research shows that physical punishment has been associated with children’s increased aggression; poorer academic achievement; poorer quality parent-child relationships; more depression and anxiety; and decreased self control. No-one has been able to show that physical punishment has any long-term positive effects on children’s behaviour or development. Other more positive methods of parental discipline have been shown to be more effective, contribute to the well being of children and do not pose risks.Except that is not true.
So what of those other studies?
Groundbreaking New Zealand research has refuted thousands of international studies which claim that smacking children makes them more likely to become aggressive and antisocial.
Children who are smacked lightly with an open hand on the bottom, hand or leg do much the same in later life as those who are not smacked, found the Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study, which has tracked 1000 children since they were born in the city in 1972-73.
The finding, based on interviews in the past two years when the children were 32-year-olds, will be published this year.
Preliminary analysis showed that those who were merely smacked had "similar or even slightly better outcomes" than those who were not smacked in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement.
"Study members in the 'smacking only' category of punishment appeared to be particularly high-functioning and achieving members of society," she said.
So there you have it. Not only is there a study that shows that physical discipline produces the best outcomes for children, but the researchers also reviewed other studies and discovered that they had all conflated smacking and abuse.
But the lead author of the physical punishment part of the Dunedin study, psychologist Jane Millichamp, said the project appeared to be the first long-term study in the world to separate out those who had merely been smacked with an open hand.
"I have looked at just about every study I can lay my hands on, and there are thousands, and I have not found any evidence that an occasional mild smack with an open hand on the clothed behind or the leg or hand is harmful or instils violence in kids," she said....
Dr Millichamp said the Dunedin study so far found no evidence of the "slippery slope" theory - that parents who started off smacking often progressed to abusive punishments.
In other words, every study that came to the conclusions Dr Smith quotes had used fauty methodology that assumed smacking was abuse.
Now, outside of missing thousands of studies with flawed methodology, it would be easy for Dr Smith to miss the one un-flawed study. There's just one problem with that.
Anne Smith works for Otago University. The study that refuses her is the Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study, which is based at the same university. Not only that, but the DMHDS is famous - it was and continues to be well regarded and groundbreaking in the field of human development.
I don't know where exactly where Smith or Millichamp are based, but last I checked the Otago Education and Psychology departments are less than 5 mins walk from each other.
Which makes you wonder how she missed it.
Honestly reporting the research - FAIL!