Psychologists’ warning: Why parents should never hit their children

“A little smack on the bum won’t hurt”; that’s what many parents think, even today. But even if it’s “only” a slap or a clip round the ear, it can lead to years of suffering for the child, even into adulthood.

The consequences for the psyche are severe


This is according to a study by the University of Texas and the University of Michigan that was published in the Journal of Family Psychology. During the study, 160,000 children were monitored over a period of 50 years. The results showed that, of those taking part, the ones who were spanked as children displayed higher rates of antisocial behavior and were in a worse state of health. The authors, Elizabeth Gershoff and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, believe that children who are spanked exhibit the same symptoms as abuse victims. Gershoff explains: “We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors. Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

According to child psychiatrist Alfia Dietmayer, even one physical “outburst” can be enough to cause enormous psychological damage. It depends, above all, on how psychologically stable the child is. The basic trust between parent and child is undermined when parents resort to violence, leaving the child in constant fear of the next attack. They don’t feel worthy of love, valued or respected, and suffer inside. The consequences of spanking can have a significant effect on children’s lives.

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