Team McCallum

R&D for Lifetime of Life

The pros and cons of smacking

Professor Marjorie Gunnoe divided teenage children into 4 groups – never smacked, smacked while aged 2-6, smacked aged 2-11, and smacked in adolescence.  She studied the children on positive measures, such as success at school, and on negative measures, such as getting into fights.

Those smacked aged 2-6 performed better in most of the positive measures and did no worse on the negatives than those never smacked.

Children smacked aged 2-11 also did better on the positives, but did less well on some of the negatives.

Those continuing to be smacked as adolescents did worse on both positives and negatives than any other category.

Edit:- Please read the comments, which now contain the original source, plus a mini-library of research articles on the effects of smacking. Our thanks to the contributors.

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January 4, 2010 - Posted by | Learning, Marjorie Gunnoe, Success

14 Comments »

  1. Is there a confounding variable her that better eksplain this behaviour? What is the operationalising of “smacked”?

    Comment by Rune Fardal | January 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Good question!

      1) It’s a US study set in US culture so “smacked” may mean something different to where we live (in the UK).

      2) Does smacking cause good/bad results? Or is something different going on?

      We took one idea only from the study. If we insist on ‘no-smacking for children’ at an age when they can’t understand adult logic (danger, harm, wrong) perhaps we’re letting them down.

      Comment by teammccallum | January 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. Where are the sources for this?

    You mention these numbers, but where is the link to the actual journal article / study?

    Comment by James F. | January 6, 2010 | Reply

    • In a mail i got this ansver: “Thank you for your interest in my research presented at the April 2009 meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development. This research is not yet published.”

      Comment by Rune Fardal | January 7, 2010 | Reply

      • Thanks for the update.

        Comment by teammccallum | January 7, 2010

  3. “Prof. Marjorie Gunnoe, of Calvin University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, did a study of 2600 people, including about 25% who’d never received physical chastisement. The press coverage of this is sparse, and it looks like there’s a paper in the works, which has reduced the output in the releases, but Prof. Gunnoe has stated that the data from her study simply doesn’t support the no-smack concept.”

    Various news reports cite the UK’s Daily Mail as the original source http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1240279/Children-smacked-young-likely-successful-study-finds.html

    Comment by teammccallum | January 6, 2010 | Reply

    • Right, but that still doesn’t provide scientific evidence for these statements. The Daily Mail (which is a tabloid) is doing the same thing you are doing – not citing actual research and data – so you can’t use it as a reference.

      Furthermore, making claims like this, when no actual data is available, and saying that it comes from a study – knowing that it gets out to people – just looks like trying to make a headline, jumping the gun. Perhaps one should wait until the actual data is available, and appropriately peer-reviewed, published in a journal, before giving this out to the public, and making people go home and beat their kids.

      The Daily Mail is much more guilty of this than you are, however, it still applies.

      Comment by James F. | January 6, 2010 | Reply

      • We aren’t quoting the Daily Mail. We happened to pick it up in the Nursing Times, the Times and the Daily Telegraph. None of these make the report any more accurate or believable than the Daily Mail. It is still simply a report.

        We published the information after checking on the credentials of Professor Marjorie Gunnoe, Professor of Psychology at Calvin University. Gunnoe claims the result comes from a study, with data. We have simply reported that. Much like the BBC and lots of good quality US sources.

        We do not claim to be experts on the topic – please see the Mission tag for what it is we are trying to do.

        If you have any links to published studies, or to authorities of comparable standing to Gunnoe, please post them and we’ll be happy to add them here or publish them in a separate article.

        Thank you for your comments.

        Comment by teammccallum | January 6, 2010

  4. “If you have any links to published studies, or to authorities of comparable standing to Gunnoe, please post them and we’ll be happy to add them here or publish them in a separate article.”

    Actually no. All I have are articles that have been actually PUBLISHED and PEER-REVIEWED. Not some half-way reports that could end up with holes.

    Comment by James F. | January 6, 2010 | Reply

    • OK. If you have articles that have been peer-reviewed on this topic, whether they support our original post, flatly contradict it, or go off in an entirely different direction, please post them.

      This will be of great benefit to those interested in this topic.

      Including us. Seriously. We’d like to hear what else has been done on this.

      Comment by teammccallum | January 6, 2010 | Reply

    • Many thanks for these.

      Comment by teammccallum | January 7, 2010 | Reply

      • No problem
        I’m sure there’s more out there

        Comment by James F. | January 7, 2010

  5. […] 4. The pros and cons of smacking. […]

    Pingback by 10,000 views! OUR TOP 10 POSTS! « Team McCallum | February 2, 2010 | Reply


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