The insufficiency of the evidence used to categorically oppose spanking and its implications for families and psychological science: Comment on Gershoff et al. (2018).

Gershoff et al. (2018) recently summarized the scientific evidence against disciplinary spanking, using epidemiological and psychological criteria for causal validity. Unfortunately, the evidence they cited would make most actions to correct serious problems appear to be harmful, whether implemented by parents (e.g., timeout) or professionals. The reason is that the type of evidence that Gershoff et al. consider adequate is insufficient for establishing a causal connection between any disciplinary response to persistent defiance and problem behaviors in children, whether that response is spanking or an effective alternative to spanking. Before opposing a widespread practice such as spanking, researchers need to document stronger causal evidence against it and identify an alternative demonstrated to be more effective. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)