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The Pediatric Forum
March 1998

Two Emerging Perspectives of Parental Spanking From Two 1996 Conferences

Author Affiliations

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Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1998;152(3):303-305. doi:

The August issue of the ARCHIVES included 3 articles and the chairs' overview from a conference, "Research on Discipline," the second of 2 important national conferences in 1996 on the effects of parental spanking on children. The purpose of this letter is to place those articles in the overall context that is emerging from both conferences. The other conference was titled "Conference on the Short-term and Long-term Consequences of Corporal Punishment," cosponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics and published in Pediatrics in October 1996. The most important new information from that conference was the first systematic review of child outcomes of nonabusive or customary physical punishment by parents.1 That review found no previous longitudinal studies that controlled for the original level of child misbehavior. Two of the 3 recent articles in the ARCHIVES are the first longitudinal studies of customary physical punishment that controlled statistically for the initial level of child misbehavior.2,3 The review by Larzelere identified 8 previously published nonlongitudinal studies that also controlled for the initial level of child misbehavior (including 4 randomized clinical trials), all of which were ignored in the recent ARCHIVES articles. All 8 of those studies found beneficial effects of nonabusive spanking in reducing subsequent noncompliance or fighting, generally when used with 2- to 6-year-olds as a backup for milder discipline responses, such as reasoning or "time out."1

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