Skip to main content

Stock photo | Thinkstock | Hemera/Stock photo | Thinkstock | Hemera

The spanking debate just got ratcheted up another notch.

New Canadian research suggests that spanking may end up causing, rather than preventing, antisocial behaviours. The report, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, contradicts British politicians' recent arguments that anti-smacking laws contribute to lax parenting – and social chaos such as last summer's London riots.

Canadian researchers analyzed two decades of studies on the long-term effects of physical punishment in children. They found no upside to spanking. Instead, they concluded that physical punishment puts children at risk for depression, anxiety, substance abuse and aggressive behaviour later in life.

Story continues below advertisement

"We find children who are physically punished get more aggressive over time and those who are not physically punished get less aggressive over time," lead author Joan Durrant, a clinical psychologist at the University of Manitoba, told Time.com.

Nevertheless, spanking is sanctioned in Section 43 of Canada's Criminal Code, as long as it's physical punishment "of a trifling nature" done by a parent to a child aged 2 to 12.

As The Globe and Mail reported earlier, many Canadians are convinced that kids may benefit from a good smack on the rear.

The top-rated comment to The Globe article was written by a father by the name of ShakeTheTree, who explained that his 3-year-old "with a very stubborn streak" responds to spanking when all else fails. "I never spank in anger," he wrote. "I always explain ahead of time that he needs to listen to me for his safety and if he doesn't, he'll be spanked."

Others are appalled that Canadian law allows parents to strike children. "The legality of hitting your children empowers those who might take it too far," commented thelionroars.

Meanwhile, a committee to remove Section 43 is underway at Repeal43.org. Committee member Corinne Robertshaw noted in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail that "trifling hits" between adults are rarely charged "and we don't need a special defence to prevent [charges]when the victim is a child." She defined discipline as "teaching through example and respect," whereas "spanking is assault. Let's stop equating the two."

But until every last parent is on side, there will always be adults who remember being spanked as kids, and say they turned out fine.

Story continues below advertisement

Does research about the negative effects of physical punishment change how you feel about spanking?

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.