More parents today are opting for non-physical discipline such as time-outs compared to 25 years ago.
The number of Americans who spank their children through punishment has gone down significantly in the past 25 years in favor of more non-physical forms of discipline, claims a new study.
Researchers examined data collected through four national surveys between the years of 1988 and 2011. They found while 46 percent of mothers in medium-income households endorsed spanking as a form of discipline in the 1980s, only 21 percent spank their children 25 years on.
“There’s been a substantial decrease in the share of parents who are reporting having spanked their child in the last week. And there’s a been substantial decrease in the share of parents who say they would spank or hit their child in response to misbehavior,” stated Rebecca Ryan, a psychologist at Georgetown University who led the analysis.
While there’s been a significant reduction in spanking over all household income-types, those with poorer incomes are more likely to spank their children. However, it’s being noted as good news for American families and their choice of using non-physical alternatives to discipline such as time-outs.
“These are really big increases,” stated Ryan. “The majority of parents now are reporting that they are using alternatives to physical discipline like timeouts where it was the minority in 1988.”
Spanking, although far from dangerous physical abuse, is known to encourage children to learn that violence is acceptable towards others.
“Spanking is not the same as physical abuse, but the reduction in official physical abuse reports suggests the changes in physical discipline endorsement reported here reflect changes in actual behavior,” says Ryan.
Details of the study will be published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday.