DURHAM, N.H. (AP) ó A University of New Hampshire researcher says children who were not spanked by their parents do better in school, earn more money and tend to have better marriages.
Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the schoolís Family Research Laboratory, presented research results at a conference in Denver on Sunday.
"Lots of people are worried that if parents never spanked, the result would be kids running wild, higher rates of delinquency, and when they grow up, more crime," he said. "Actually, what the research shows is just the opposite."
Citing 50 years of research on the effectiveness and side effects of spanking, Straus said that although spanking can modify a childís behavior, other methods of correcting and teaching kids work better.
Spanking has harmful side effects, like increasing the chance that a child will become rebellious or depressed, he said. Parents, however, have no way of knowing that because the side effects take months or years to show up, he said.
Straus recommends that parents choose a method of discipline as though they were choosing a medicine.
"Suppose there are two medicines that work equally well, but one has harmful side effects," he said. "I think that most people would avoid the medicine with the harmful side effects. Thatís the way we should think about spanking."
Research also shows that children who are not spanked tend to have faster mental development and a higher chance of graduating from college, Straus said.
Children who are not spanked tend not to become parents who spank when they grow up. There also is less violence against dating or marriage partners, less depression and less alcohol abuse, Straus says.
Children who are spanked less also have a greater chance of being in the top fifth of the country in jobs and income, he said.
"Five decades of spanking research tells us a lot," he said. "If adults stopped hitting children, they would have less hassle with their children, and when their kids grow up, they would help make our country less violent, healthier, wealthier and wiser."
© 2002 Geo. J. Foster Company