73 Law & Contemp. Probs. 31 (2010)
More Harm than Good: A Summary of Scientific Research on the Intended and Unintended Effects of Corporal Punishment on Children

handle is hein.journals/lcp73 and id is 371 raw text is: MORE HARM THAN GOOD: A SUMMARY
OF SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON THE
INTENDED AND UNINTENDED EFFECTS
OF CORPORAL PUNISHMENT ON
CHILDREN
ELIZABETH T. GERSHOFF*
I
INTRODUCTION
The use of corporal punishment to discipline children remains one of the
last holdouts of old-fashioned childrearing in the United States. Gone are the
days of administering cod-liver oil to prevent rickets, spreading alcohol on
babies' gums to dull teething pain, or even putting children to sleep on their
stomachs to prevent choking on fluids-practices that have been repeated by
generations of dutiful parents across centuries. The modern age of child-rearing
experts has ushered in a new set of parenting techniques thought to promote
optimal child development, including teaching children to use signs from
American Sign Language to communicate before they are able to verbalize
words, protecting children in fancy (and expensive) car seats that were unheard
of even twenty years ago, and using time-out as a preferred means of discipline.
Yet corporal punishment of children persists-roughly fifty percent of the
parents of toddlers' and sixty-five to sixty-eight percent of the parents of
preschoolers2 in the United States use corporal punishment as a regular method
of disciplining their children. By the time American children reach middle and
high school, eighty-five percent have been physically punished by their parents.'
These high prevalence rates are in stark contrast to the growing consensus
Copyright  2010 by Elizabeth T. Gershoff.
This Article is also available at http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/lcp.
*Associate Professor, University of Texas at Austin.
1. Rebecca R. S. Socolar et al., A Longitudinal Study of Parental Discipline of Children, 100 S.
MED. J. 472, 474 (2007).
2. Michael Regalado et al., Parents' Discipline of Young Children: Results From the National
Survey of Early Childhood Health, 113 PEDIATRICS 1952, 1954 (2004); Socolar et al., supra note 1.
3. Heather L. Bender et al., Use of Harsh Physical Discipline and Developmental Outcomes in
Adolescence, 19 DEV. & PSYCHOPATHOLOGY 227, 231 (2007); Elizabeth T. Gershoff & Susan H.
Bitensky, The Case Against Corporal Punishment of Children: Converging Evidence from Social Science
Research and International Human Rights Law and Implications for U.S. Public Policy, 13 PSYCHOL.,
PUB. POL'Y, & LAW 231,232 (2007).

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