The Debate Over Spanking In Massachusetts

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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in a ruling at the end of last month, said that parents in Massachusetts may not be criminally liable for using force as discipline, as long as that force is "reasonable" and "related to the purpose of safeguarding the welfare" of the child.

Is spanking an appropriate form of discipline?


Marsha Kazarosian, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association. She tweets @MarshaKaz.

Mary McGeown, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which tweets @mspccboston.


WBUR: Massachusetts Court Offers Guidelines On Spanking

  • "Massachusetts’ highest court for the first time established legal guidelines Thursday for the use of physical punishment by parents, saying it’s permissible to discipline a child by spanking so long as “reasonable” force is used and the child is not harmed."

Time: Spanking Can Be An Appropriate Form Of Child Discipline

  • "Properly understood and administered, spanking is most effective as a deterrent to undesirable behavior for younger preschoolers (but never for infants). That’s because reasoning and taking away privileges often simply don’t work with kids in that age range. As children age, spanking should become even less frequent as other types of consequences are utilized. Spanking should be phased out completely before adolescence."

Time: The Long-Term Effects Of Spanking

  • "Researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet that children's short-term response to spanking may make them act out more in the long run. Of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were much more likely to be aggressive by age 5."

This segment aired on July 6, 2015.


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