To spank or not? It's a Cultural Thing


Spanking may seem like a vestige of days past when parents either used direct fanny-slapping or the threat of it to deter naughty behavior.
And according to research, the practice does vary among ethnic groups, according to a recent article in NBC According to a study led by Michael MacKenzie at Columbia University, most research shows that African American families use physical punishment the most, while Hispanic and non-Hispanic white families use a more balanced approach to discipline.
Another study by Lisa Berlin at Duke University found two- and three-year old children of Mexican-American mothers who haven’t quite integrated into American culture were spanked much less often than the children of both Caucasian and African-American mothers. The same was found for verbal punishment.
“Other studies have reported relatively less spanking among Latino parents,” says the study.
The wide variation in the study’s results are due to the broad category of “Hispanic,” according to the article. In Berlin’s study, mothers who called themsleves Hispanic also classified themselves as Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central American, or other.
“Culture plays a significant role for Hispanic families in how they raise children and the common parenting techniques they practice,” said Leny Bolivar, child and adolescent therapist for the Association to Benefit Children.
Overall, the effects of spanking are the same among all ethnic groups. According to a study by Joan Durrant in the Journal of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics, “even a low level of physical punishment was related to increased antisocial behavior among white, African-American and Latino children.”
Though some Latino parents might not know the negative consequences of spanking, it changes once they do, said Bolivar.
For a list of alternative discipline strategies, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website
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