Chances are, you have those friends on Facebook who defend corporal punishment on the adage that “it happened to them and they turned out fine,” or “not spanking is why kids today have no respect.”

And while those statements might hold true in individual cases, the science and psychology behind child development norms has said, unequivocally, that hitting a child does more harm than good.

Yes, even when it comes to discipline.

Image Credit: Pexels

The good news is, based on this recent study, more and more parents are listening to the experts and not relying on the norms of the past when deciding how to raise their own kids.

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, used national data gathered from 35-year-old parents with kids between the ages of 2 and 12. They were asked how often they spanked their child(ren), from “never” to “every day,” and the percentage of people who reported spanking had dropped from 50% in 1993 to 35% in 2017.

The percentage of men who spank decreased from 52% to 36%, and in women from 48% to 35%. The majority of participants were white and married, with Black, Hispanic, and Asian parents accounting for just 20% of the study, and single parents a mere 5.5%.

The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) didn’t come out against corporal punishment until 2018, so that was unlikely to have affected the study, though they did officially discourage the use back in 1998 – in 1992, a majority of family physicians and pediatricians supported the use of spanking in the home as it related to discipline.

We’ve had research for some time that shows spanking is not an effective tool when disciplining children, and can be harmful to their development and psyche going forward.

According to CNN, experts think spanking has dropped because of a simple generational opposition to domestic violence, and also popular culture influences like Supernanny, which promote other effective – and kind – forms of discipline.

Studies have been steadily published, too, that highlight the dangers of spanking, like increased aggression, depression, suicidal behavior, substance abuse, and even changes in the brain.

That said, this study reveals that over a third of American parents still spank their kids, while in countries like Argentina, Congo, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Mongolia, New Zealand, South Sudan, and Spain – there are 60 globally – it’s completely illegal.

We still have a long way to go, I guess, but this is good news for the mental health of kids in America, so for today, let’s call it a win.