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Spanking – the debate ends here

17 October 2013, 11:08

Now we have both sides of the debate. It is time to take stock of the facts so that you can review them yourself.

The main controversy revolves around Andrew Selley from Joshua Generation Church. This church is being investigated by the human rights commission for their leader for advocating spanking with an actual rod.

What kind of person is this? I will direct you to his own video made in August 2013 so you can see for yourself: http://www.joshgen.co.za/en/Catch-Up/Times-Are-Changing--Aug-2013/

1)      He claims at approx. 13:40 that only 4-6% of South Africa is Christian.

2)      He claims at approx. 18:30 that evolution is not a proven theory, and in fact it is untrue and there are no intermediate fossils. He claims there is NO evidence for evolution at all. He also claims that you can carbon date live animals such as seals and snails.

3)      He claims at approx. 38:30 that Bishop Tutu is not a Christian and in fact is the Antichrist.

4)      He claims the use of a wooden spoon is alright at 51:30. This is after claiming that he only meant a small stick can be used against a child publically.

5)      He claims at approx. 58:30 that when his Daughter was 2 he spanked her every day at one point.

You are welcome to check these statements above yourself and confirm that I am not making it up. I don’t think that it’s unfair to claim that these are agenda driven right wing radicals. Nobody stood up when he made these claims and disputed any of them. If I was present in that church you can damn well take it as fact I would have done so.

So here we have someone making absurd claims about science, disputing that people are Christians, calling a well-respected Bishop the anti-christ and says one thing to the human rights commission but another thing inside his church. This is someone who spanked his child every day when she was 2 at one point by his own admission, and defends this action. I make no judgement, but invite you to do so. I do not claim that his child is certainly damaged by this action, but also do not think it was the most beneficial action. I want to make it clear I am making no judgement myself.

On the other side, we see people trying their best to protect children and supporting their claims with well documented and easily verifiable peer reviewed research.

Let’s review the evidence. Here are some of the claims made by the agenda driven right wing radicals:

Here are SOME papers have been submitted as evidence (I can’t cover all of them but these were the strongest evidence in my opinion) –

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1357669 – a paper from the University of Akron by a Jason Fuller

http://humansciences.okstate.edu/facultystaff/Larzelere/sweden2.html - a review of several papers from a Robert E. Larzelere and http://humansciences.okstate.edu/facultystaff/Larzelere/nztabconts.47.pdf

http://now.msn.com/spanking-not-harmful-if-children-feel-loved-study-finds - an article on a study of spanking from a news source.

These “findings” by the right wingers are easily disputed. The first is the Jason Fuller paper.

It is an article not a research study. It is not peer reviewed. The author was a student when he wrote this. Nowhere does he cite any studies on Sweden proving any correlation between the non-spanking and youth violence. This is because these studies don’t exist. Footnote 12, he cites sources saying child abuse is up 600% since spanking became illegal. This is due to the fact that spanking became included in the definition, and it was not considered illegal before. This is not taken into account. He also cites the Robert Larzelere paper SWEDEN'S SMACKING BAN: MORE HARM THAN GOOD.  However Robert's article is as you will see, is just as false. It also happened to be refuted 4 years before Jason decided to use it as evidence in his piece. Oops.

So the first source is from a law student, who gives an opinion on another refuted paper, and is 4 years out of date. One begins to wonder why they are scraping so hard for evidence. What else can we dig out the bottom of the barrel?

How about the Robert Larzelere papers? Well they are refuted here: http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/human_ecology/media/Durrant_2.pdf

And to summarise: his claims are absurd. The main crux is that child abuse has increased by 500% after the spanking law was passed. Actually it was the increase in REPORTS – not surprising. The definition was widened to include spanking. If the law now considers spanking a crime, and it did not before, then yes the reports of abuse will increase, since it was not reported before. Amazing. You would think that Joshua Generation Church would have picked that up, but it seems to escape them, and they continue to quote this 500% figure as though it means something, but without a control in the study removing the spanking from the reported cases, we don’t know if abuse has increased or not. Bad science from the creationists I’m afraid.

The last article? Ok lets take a look. Actually it’s once again misrepresented. http://www.nhs.uk/news/2013/04April/Pages/harsh-disciplne-harms-eased-by-emotional-warmth.aspx   This reviews the claims and notes that the sample was very small and because of several limitations the study certainly should not be interpreted to mean that any level of harsh discipline is not harmful, provided there is maternal love. In fact the authors of that study recommend more research is needed.

So the strongest evidence provided, is actually very poor, not peer reviewed in some cases and no conclusions can be drawn. Not unexpected, since most of the actual scientists involved in child behaviour actually agree that spanking is harmful.

We all hear the anecdotal evidence. I was spanked and I’m ok. I visited a psychic and she was able to tell me my future. I would never harm my children – I only spank out of love. I always do the best for them, and go to the homeopath. Anecdotal evidence is useless in this debate, we need the science. What does the science say?

Now we review the real science. There are hundreds of papers that support not spanking. Here are a few of them. There are too many to list all of them – they run into the hundreds of papers, but I can give you the links to them. I have chosen 4 that I reviewed.

http://adc.bmj.com/content/83/3/196.full - Peer reviewed, showing corporal punishment is harmful.

http://www.cdc.gov/ace/index.htm – A study of 17000 participants over multiple years released in 2010

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/5/e1057.full - 2010 study that found even mild forms of spanking was linked to aggression.

http://bit.ly/1aMH2k3 - a meta-analysis of 20 years of Research by Joan Durrant PHD.

Hate the sin, not the sinner. Hate the belief. Not the believer. These people need help, and we can help them by showing that giving up spanking is not against their religious teaching, or is it an erosion of their religious freedom. We don’t need to send these people to jail (they don’t deserve it), we just need to educate them on why spanking is wrong.

Peace,

Pete

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