Мне очень понравилось то, что в статье приводятся ровно те же аргументы, которые я сама привожу, когда выступаю против физических наказаний:
- они "не работают", не улучшают поведение детей, не учат их различать хорошее и плохое.
- это проявление жестокого отношения. Во всех штатах родителям разрешено шлепать детей "в разумных пределах", но почему-то ни в одном штате не разрешается бить супруга "в разумных пределах". Получается, что наиболее слабых и беззащитных мы менее всего защищаем.
На данный момент применение физических наказаний снизилось в абсолютно всех социальных группах, но не исчезло совсем. В семьях с низкими доходами треть родителей считает физические наказания "допустимыми". Авторы исследования призывают не останавливаться на достигнутом и продолжать диалог.
Fewer and fewer parents are spanking their children, according to the American Association of Pediatrics — cause for both celebration and continued dialogue.
A new study, scheduled to appear in the December issue of Pediatrics, finds that parents' use of physical punishment has declined substantially since 1998, while the use of nonphysical discipline strategies has increased substantially — and that's across all socioeconomic groups.
This is heartening news for a couple of reasons, the first of which is that spanking doesn't work. In April, the most complete analysis of spanking to date found that the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents, exhibit anti-social behaviors, and experience mental health and cognitive problems.
"Spanking makes children's behavior worse," lead author Elizabeth T. Gershoff told me at the time. "It has the opposite effect than what parents want: It doesn't make children better-behaved, and it doesn't teach children right from wrong. It's not related to immediate compliance, and it doesn't make children behave better in the future."
The second reason I'm cheering is because hitting children is cruel. In every state, it's legal for a parent to hit a child with "reasonable" force. In zero states is it legal to strike your spouse with "reasonable" force. We don't allow for a "reasonable" amount of domestic violence, because there is no such thing.
The fact that we offer less protection to children — who are physically smaller and emotionally more vulnerable — is unconscionable.
"It's based on our history of treating children as property," psychiatrist Paul Holinger, founder of Chicago's Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy, told me once. "And a misunderstanding of our basic built-in feelings and what gets elicited — the fear, the shame, the rage, the distress — which are neurobiologically toxic reactions."
The new study indicates we're choosing a less toxic way.
Researchers examined data from four national studies conducted between 1988 and 2011, each of which asked how often a kindergarten-age child was spanked in the past week and which method the parents would choose if a child misbehaved: physical discipline, a timeout or talking to the child.
(Age 5, or kindergarten-age, is one of the most common ages for parents to spank, according to the study.)
Numerous studies have shown parents with lower socioeconomic status spank more than parents with higher socioeconomic status. This could be attributed to emotional stress and lower access to information and services that provide alternative discipline methods, researchers in this latest study state.
Now, it appears, that gap is narrowing.
The proportion of mothers at the 50th income-percentile who said they would choose physical punishment decreased from 46 percent to 21 percent between 1998 and 2011. Mothers at the 10th income-percentile who choose timeouts increased from 51 percent to 71 percent over that same period.
The AAP released a policy statement in 1998 urging parents to avoid spanking, and it's possible the statement contributed to the move away from physical punishment. Heidi M. Feldman, who served on the committee that prepared the AAP's policy statement, addresses that possibility in a commentary accompanying the new study.
"If the AAP policy statement contributed even slightly toward increasing rates of compassionate and humane parental discipline," Feldman writes, "and if changes in discipline influence rates of physical maltreatment, then for me, personally, the long hours of writing, debating, preparing and presenting were totally worthwhile."
Still, researchers found that close to one-third of mothers with the lowest incomes continue to endorse physically disciplining kindergarten-age children, and almost one-quarter said they'd struck their children in the last week.
More needs to be done.
"Strategies to further reduce reliance on corporal punishment in lower SES (socioeconomic status) families could include encouraging the use of nonphysical approaches such as time-out, positive reinforcement and selective inattention in home visiting programs," researchers write, "as well as raising public awareness about the negative effects, and real ineffectiveness, of physical discipline."
Hear, hear. We don't hit our fellow adults — particularly adults we've signed on to love and protect. We should be equally loath to hit children. There are a million better ways to express displeasure, without inflicting lasting harm.