Parent-child relationships

Holden (2002) is concerned about the quality of Gershoff’s empirical data, as it is crucial to distinguish severe from normative physical punishment in order to investigate whether spanking has any of those negative outcomes, which are readily associated with abusive punishment. The definition of child abuse often involves the infliction of bruises, cuts and bone fractures, which may be caused by beating or kicking (Latif, 2003). Gershoff (2002) excluded more severe forms of corporal punishment and included what Holden (2002) called “customary physical punishment” in the meta-analyses: slapping or spanking with an object, such as spoon, belt, or paddle, to the child’s buttocks or hand.

However, many of the studies used in Gershoff’s review may have unintentionally include abusive parents, because often parents were not inquired about severe forms of corporal punishment and through the reliance on self reports by parents excessive corporal punishment may have been underreported (Holden, 2002). Holden also identified other methodological problems, such as reliance on single and sometimes retrospective reports; lack of assessment of contextual variables and neglect of child’s temperament.

Another very important point is that even when corporal punishment is clearly defined, its manifestation across families is heterogeneous: It can be loving or rejecting; impulsively or instrumentally administered; the frequency and its intensity varies (Holden, 2002). Spanking also co-occurs with many other parenting behaviours, such as yelling, reasoning or raging (Holden, 2002). Studies, which systematically include these and other variables, are needed (Holden, 2002).

Holden emphasizes that despite of the problems with the design of the studies, “Gershoff’s results of the meta-analysis were surprisingly consistent…as the direction of effects was largely uniform” (2002:592). Striking result was also the lack of positive outcomes (Holden, 2002). Holden concludes that “Gershoff’s review reflected the growing body of evidence indicating that corporal punishment does no good and may even cause harm” and thus psychologists should not be advocating or justifying the use of spanking (2002: 594).

Baumrind et al. (2002) argued that 65% of the studies in Gershoff’s meta-analysis measured overly severe forms of corporal punishment and therefore it does not provide any evidence that mild to moderate spanking is associated with negative outcomes. This disagreement mainly rose from Gershoff’s decision to include the use of objects in her definition of corporal punishment. In order to get a more accurate knowledge about the effects of spanking, Baumrind et al. (2002) would operationalize corporal punishment in terms of “the more moderate application of normative spanking within the context of a generally supportive parent-child relationship” (pp. 580-581; cited in Gershoff, 2002: 602).

In her reply, Gershoff (2002) justifies her operationalization of corporal punishment through a Survey Gallup of more than 900 American parents, which revealed that 28% of parents use an object when punishing their children (Gershoff, 2002). Therefore the use of objects in spanking is a relatively common phenomenon and thus qualifies as normative (Gershoff, 2002). Furthermore, Gershoff states that there is a range in the quality of parent-child relationships and restricting the study to only include supportive parent-child relationships would ignore the importance of studying the effects of corporal punishment as moderated by the whole range of relationships (2002).

Baumrind et al. (2002) also emphasize that Gershoff’s review cannot help parents decide whether to use spanking or not because of the ambiguous cause and effect relationship and third variable problem in correlational studies. Baumrind et al. argue that “it is arbitrary to treat corporal punishment as though it is the independent variable, and certainly without first establishing temporal order” (2002: 582). Does spanking make children aggressive or do badly behaving children elicit parental corporal punishment?

Three large-scale American studies tried to resolve this ambiguous direction of effect (Gunnoe & Mariner, 1997; Brezina, 1998; Starus & Sugarman, 1997): Nationally representative samples of children were administered an index measuring the level of anti-social behaviour and the amount of physical punishment experienced. Two years later the ASB index was repeated. Regardless of the original score in the ASB index, the higher the original level of physical punishment, the greater the increase in ASB in the follow-up study. The ASB scores for those children who originally experienced very little or no physical punishment did not increase or decrease in the follow-up study (Leach, 1998).

Straus and Stewart (1998) conclude: ” Of course other things influence anti-social behaviour. But…we found that the tendency for physical punishment to make things worse over the long run applies regardless of race, socio-economic status, gender of child, relationship with parents or level of anti-social behaviour.” (Cited in Leach, 1998: 3). Child spanking contains a paradoxical or hypocritical message, as we aim to teach our children that violence is wrong, yet we use violence as an acceptable means of gaining obedience in children. This inevitably raises concerns about modelling or social learning theory, as children often try to emulate people they identify with (Bandura, 1967; cited in Beck, 1996).

According to UK and North American research data 90% of children are hit by their parents (Leach, 1998). Almost all children are hit between the ages of one and four and the percentage gradually drops with age (Leach, 1998). This raises the question of why only relatively small amount of people show significant negative outcomes? Gershoff (2002) states that even though not every spanked child manifest negative outcomes, the more frequently and strongly child spanking is administered the risk of damaging the child increases.

Parke (2002) argues that since socialization strategies represent packaged variables, of which spanking may be only one component, the research question may need to be reframed to include the effects of packages of parental discipline tactics on children’s short- and long-term development, rather than focusing on spanking per se. Gershoff (2002) also makes clear that situational, relational, and socio-cultural factors operate in a context mediating and moderating the influence of spanking on children. Gershoff identifies a key context of interest for future studies, which is parenting style.

Attempts to undermine the anti-spanking approach have mainly focused on the lack of evidence of child spanking’s damaging nature. However, as Gershoff (2002) points out, the potential lack of negative outcomes does not justify the use of spanking. As long as there is no proof of positive outcomes associated with child spanking it should not be recommended to be used as a punishment method (Gershoff, 2002). Since there are better alternative discipline methods available, such as reasoning and time-out, why should we risk harming our children through parental corporal punishment (Gershoff, 2002)?

There is no “reasonable chastisement” of wives, servants or convicts, but it is considered as an assault (Freeman, 2002). The current child protection legislation is broad and subjectively interpretative, and thus does not provide as effective protection for children as would a clearer mandate of full legal ban on corporal punishment (Thorpe & Jackson, 1997). Why should children be excluded when all the rest of us are legally protected from violence of all kind?

Throughout history spanking has been commonly viewed as necessary and effective mean of conditioning children to good behaviour. Partly the practice has religious roots, as Bible is often interpreted to require parental corporal punishment (Latif, 2003). Psychological research has yet …

Children are increasingly sexually abused by members of the same family. Significant research studies have been conducted on the issue of sexual abuse with analysis carried out from all angles. The documentation available about sexual abuse reveals several devastating effects …

Would you like to be cooped up in your house all day looking after your ill parent, never having a moment’s rest? If the answer’s no, then donate money to CCFR Carers UK, we aim to let children caring for …

Emotional distress is among the leading factors that affect a child in the event of a parent’s death. Social life is adversely affected and unless measures are taken to avoid deterioration in psychological advancement of the child irreversible effects may …

David from Healtheappointments:

Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one? Check it out