A Case Against Spanking


I was recently introduced to the Stop Spanking movement and as a mother to a toddler, my interest was sparked. Spanking is not in my parenting repertoire but a few incidences with my kid have been challenging. For example, when she almost ran into the street or was playing with the outlets; perhaps a ‘good spanking’ will get my point across. Let me tell you that unequivocally, SPANKING IS BAD.

Through stopspanking.org, I dove deep into what the evidence says about spanking and I wanted to share it with you!

Enter: The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, AKA the ACE study conducted by Dr. Vincent Felitti.  More than 17,000 people were included in this study (which is a large amount and adds validity) over a 15-year span. Each participant took the ACE quiz that calculated a score based on: abuse, exposure to mental illness, alcoholism, domestic violence, incarceration of a family member, abandonment or neglect.

The results: It showed that there was a direct link between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease as well as mental illness, doing time in prison and work issues. They also found that ACE’s are really common with 2/3 of the adults experiencing one or more types of ACE. Also, the more ACE’s a child had, the higher the risk for medical, mental and social problems as an adult (1).   With a score of 4 or more, one is 240% more likely to have hepatitis or an STD; 390 % more likely to develop COPD, 12 times more likely to attempt suicide, 7 times more likely to be an alcoholic, and 10 times more likely to inject street drugs. Creating a safe and nurturing space for our kids to grow up in is imperative to their mental and physical potential.  

Physical punishment of our kids has been generally accepted as an appropriate method for discipline however, this is totally antiquated. There are many studies showing that physical punishment leads to unwanted negative mental and health outcomes (2).  

Physical punishment:

  • Is associated with higher levels of aggression against parent, siblings, peers and spouses.

  • Between the ages of six and nine, there are predicted higher levels of anti-social behavior two years later (3).

  • Is associated with: depression, unhappiness, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, use of drugs and alcohol and general psychological maladjustment (4)

Physical punishment is a stress on the system of children and as we have learned in past readings, excessive stress can negatively impact our health; and this is especially true in childhood (5).

  • Increased stress during infancy fosters risk for immune disorders, sensitization to later stress, cognitive deficits and social-emotional problems (6)

  • Stress from physical punishment is linked to slower cognitive development, poor academic achievement (7), and smaller brain volume (8)!

Not one study looking at physical punishment found a long-term positive effect, and most studies have found negative effects (9). In fact, 30 countries have banned this type of punishment because of the proven poor outcomes.

Check out stopspanking.org for the ‘What to do Instead’ tab for alternative methods.


  1. https://acestoohigh.com/2012/10/03/the-adverse-childhood-experiences-study-the-largest-most-important-public-health-study-you-never-heard-of-began-in-an-obesity-clinic/

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3447048/

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9265876

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17010436/

  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2944040/

  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12614655

  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3813398/

  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2896871/

  9. http://menengage.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/PositiveDiscipline_Factsheet_4.pdf