Does smacking cause bad behaviour?

Smacking debate rages as new study claims it worsens behaviour, but not everyone agrees

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Smacking children reduces their emotional intelligence and could lead to bad behaviour, according to a new study. But one psychologist has controversially questioned this evidence and even suggested that it could actually help child development.

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The study asked 179 teenagers how often they were spanked as children and until what age. The results showed a surprisingly mix of results – those who had been smacked up to the age of six tended to do better at school but smacking was linked to an increased likelihood of  anti-social behaviour and getting into fights.

Professor Marjorie Gunnoe, who analysed the data, suggested that smacking was still a useful tool when it comes to disciplining children, if used in the right way.

“I think of spanking as a dangerous tool, but there are times when there is a job big enough for a dangerous tool. You just don’t use it for all your jobs,” she explained.

But another study has also been released showing that after the age of six, children who had been smacked started to do worse on developmental tasks and tests than those who hadn’t.

British parents are currently legally entitled to punish bad behaviour by “reasonable chastisement” as long as the smack does not leave a mark or bruise. However, there are active groups in the UK trying to ban smacking.

These include the NSPCC, which said, “The NSPCC believes that children should have the same legal protection from assault as adults do. Other research has shown that smacking young children affects their behaviour and mental development, and makes them more likely to be anti-social.”

Do you think all physical punishment on children should be banned? Or is a light tap ever necessary?

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