The affects of corporal punishment.

Annotated Bibliography

Demian Langer


Rosemond, John. “To Spank, or, not…here we go again.” MYAJC, Accessed 16 January 2018

   Family psychologist John Rosemond begins his article by criticizing a Wall Street journal article on recent research into spanking entitled “Spanking for Misbehaviour? It causes more!” Written by Susan Pinker on December 17, 2017. He believes that the articles foundation has two “grievous errors”; that “children under seven cannot master their emotions” and that “a fair amount of misbehaviour on the part of a young child distinguishes him from a robot”.  Rosemond proceeds to criticize Pinker’s use and interpretation of three studies performed in 2016 that seem to add weight to her argument that spanking in fact does more harm than good. It is Rosemond’s overall opinion that “the real problem is that today’s parents, by and large, do not know how to properly convey authority”, and that occasionally spanking a child does not negatively impact a child’s complete trust of his or her parents.  I have decided to make use of this article because it provides an opinion that differs from the current mainstream opinion, and provides me with numerous starting points for future research, including: Susan Pinker’s article, the three studies mentioned in her article and the background of family psychologist John Rosemond himself.



Roberts, David. “Please don’t spank your kids.  It doesn’t work, and it teaches all the wrong lessons.” VOX,  Accessed 16 January 2018

   David Roberts begins his article with a summary of his own childhood experience growing up in the state of Tennessee, where he claims that paddling in schools “is both legal and common to this day”.  After making his opinion on the topic clear, he lists a variety of research (including Susan Pinker’s Wall Street Journal article) that reinforces his opinion. Roberts then proceeds to list the negative impacts of corporal punishment upon the individual and upon society as a whole. He ends his argument with a list of alternatives to corporal punishment, and some thoughts on how to and systemic violence at its source. Roberts liberal use of hyperlinks will make fact checking his research, and expanding upon it, much easier. The wide range of subtopics elucidated in his article, such as corporal punishment alternatives, causes, and effects on society provide multiple avenues for further discussion.


Pinker, Susan. “Spanking for Misbehavior? It Causes More.” The Wall Street Journal, Accesses 25 January 2018

 Susan Pinker’s article in the popular magazine the Wall Street Journal has been referenced by a number of other authors debating the negative affects of using corporal punishment to discipline children. Pinker begins by pointing out that “two thirds of American parents, when asked by the federally funded Gen. social survey in 2016, agreed with the statement, “Sometimes a child just needs a good, hard spanking.””  She then examines a 2016 meta-analysis of five decades of research that links spanking to later behavioural problems. After outlining the possible faults in such an analysis, Pinker brings to light a more recent study of more than 12,000 American families that was specifically designed to circumvent the difficulties and inaccuracies inherent in previous studies. Even after carefully accounting for the possible faults found in the data; this more recent study confirms that the use of corporal punishment does indeed have a negative affect on children.  I have incorporated this article into my research, because it seems to be the spark that has renewed the debate on this issue. It also lays out some of the difficulties in obtaining accurate research regarding corporal punishment, and discusses ways in which current and future research can be made to be more reliable.



Gershoff, Elizabeth. (2018) “Strengthening Causal Estimates for Links Between Spanking and Children’s Externalizing Behavior Problems” In Psychological Science, 29(1) 110-120

Elizabeth Gershoff’s peer-reviewed research in the January 2018 issue of the psychological science journal aims to counterbalance the challenges inherent in obtaining accurate research on social issues like determining the affects spanking children. By using “propensity score matching based on the lifetime prevalence and recent incidents of spanking in a large and nationally representative sample as well as lagged dependent variables” the study aimed to “get as close to causal estimates outside an experiment as possible”. The “statistically rigorous methods” arrive at the conclusion that spanking does in fact have a negative effect on the behaviour of children.  I chose to include this journal article in my research because it not only provides a more recent statistical analysis of the spanking issue, it lays out the probable flaws in prior research and aims to overcome them. Susan Pinker’s article references this research, and it directly answers some of the objections put forth by spanking enthusiasts with regards to earlier research.