Smacking children no more effective than other forms of discipline says new report

Smacking and other forms of physical punishment are no more effective in instilling discipline in children than other parenting techniques, according to a new report by the Wales Centre for Public Policy.

Parental Physical Punishment: Child Outcomes and Attitudes’ reviews what’s known about how children are affected by physical punishment.

While there are no clear benefits to smacking, the report also finds that where research has tried to separate out the effect of smacking from other factors like family situation, socio-economic status or wider behavioural issues, the negative impact of smacking appears to be very small.

Dan Bristow, Director of Policy and Practice at the Wales Centre for Public Policy, said:

“This is a topic where people have strongly-held, values-based positions. With this report, we have sought outline what the evidence can tell us about the impact of smacking.

“It is clear that severe and persistent forms of physical punishment are harmful to child development. The impact of milder physical punishment like more occasional smacking is less clear; research shows that smacking is linked to negative outcomes, but it cannot say whether it’s their only or main cause.

“Alongside this, we have evidence that shows smacking is no more effective than other parenting techniques, either in the short or the longer term.

“It is for others to judge what all this means; and that is the decision that the Assembly will soon face as it debates new laws on a smacking ban.”