The Truth about Spanking


You can't believe everything you read. For instance there is an article currently trending on Yahoo titled Spanking Linked to Mental Illness, and it's simply not true.  
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When I saw the article yesterday, I was intrigued. I am a believer in spankings. I think that spankings done right are one the best tools a parent has in their discipline arsenal. I am also a believer in good research. I was a Psychology major in college and learned quite a bit about research methods and statistics. 

So you can understand why this particular article got me up in arms. It hits on several subjects that are close to my heart. 

Let me give you an overview of the article.  
"Researchers examined data from more than 34,000 adults and found that being spanked significantly increased the risk of developing mental health issues as adults."
The article goes on to claim that physical punishment, aka spanking, is linked to increased risk of depression, anxiety, personality disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse. The researchers  claim that they exclude harsh physical punishment and abuse. 
"We're not talking about just a tap on the bum," study author Tracie Afifi, PhD, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, explained in a statement. "We were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children." However, the analysis excluded individuals who reported more severe maltreatment such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, or exposure to intimate partner violence."
When you examine the article on it's face value, it really doesn't look good for spanking.
 So I took the time to dig a little deeper. I took the time to read the actual study in the Journal of Pediatrics. I found that the researchers actually defined "spanking" as harsh physical punishment which included pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting. 

Now, I will be the first to tell you that pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting your child especially out of anger and frustration is a terrible idea, but that is not spanking.

It's not surprising to me that what the researchers call "harsh physical punishment" is connected to emotional disorders and drug and alcohol abuse. Such discipline is often sudden and  severe, causing the child to question their security and trust in their parents. Discipline done out of anger (I can't imagine a parent slapping a child in love) only leads to fear and long term emotional problems.

In fact, Colossians 3:21 warns parents to "provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." (And to think that little piece of truth is being backed up by modern research!)

However, true spankings, based on a Biblical model of discipline, are done out of love, consistently, with proper warnings and explanations. And the Bible promises that proper discipline brings about good results. 

He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes
Proverbs 13:24

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
Proverbs 22:15

 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.
Proverbs 23:14-15

As permissive parenting is becoming more and more popular in the world, Christians will continue to face ridicule for disciplining and raising their children in the Truth. So next time you read an article that claims all spanking is bad, or someone tells you that all physical punishment is tantamount in abuse. Don't fear. No matter what the research says (or in this case doesn't say) we can trust that the Word of God will never steer us wrong. 

*Note: I understand that not all Christian choose to spank their children, and I do believe there are many other forms of discipline (time-out, revoking privileges, making them eat vegetables) that work well with different children. I'm not discounting those methods. Each family has to make their own decision about discipline in their own home. Just don't base your decision on popular research articles without consulting the Word of God and getting all your facts straight :) 


  1. Love this! Very informative, open and honest. Thank you for writing such a well rounded post on such a touchy subject.

  2. Thank you for this! It surprises me how quickly misinformation like in that article spreads. Discipline done in love is the key. Even time-outs and other methods can be done in a damaging way or a loving and constructive way.

  3. I agree with you. Spanking has gone "out of style" in our modern world, but anything God advises cannot cause mental illness. It's deceptive how the survey actually measured harsh punishment but then publicized it as spanking. Thanks for sharing. Gail (

  4. Great article! Thanks for sharing your research and uncovering the mis-information! Its good to know that we aren't the *only* Christian family that still takes the Bible for its word and consider spanking to be an acceptable form of discipline.

  5. I am always interested to see people saying things like "spanking has gone out of style" because I am the only mother I know who chooses not to spank my children, and am constantly brought under fire for it, despite the fact that I have well-behaved children. Since most people I know do spank their children, i believe that there are more issues involved with the decline of manners in our society than simply the spanking issue. I, too, take the BIble at it's word, but a "rod" is used for directing and not just for hitting :) We are instructed to train up our children and guide them, and I believe that can be done without the use of hitting them (through spanking). Great thoughts though, and thank you for respectfully stating your opinion :)

  6. Thank you for this article. We've found judicious spanking to be a very effective form of training our children in the way they should go.

  7. Some food for thought:



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