sad dads spank kids (?)

NPR says: Pediatricians Need To Help ‘Sad Dads’.

The report says that 41% of depressed dads spank their kids, whereas only 13% of non-depressed dads do so. That’s a gigantic difference, right? Think of how many spankings we could prevent if we could just make depressed dads spank at the rate of non-depressed dads. Right now a total of 15% of dads spank. So if we cured all the depressed dads, the rate would plummet to…

… wait for it…

… 14%!

Right. The report doesn’t tell you that only 7% of dads are depressed. You need to look at the abstract for that. So instead of contributing somewhat more than 2% of total spankings, as they currently do, spanking-normalized depressed dads would contribute just under 1%.

You could tell me that any spanking is a bad spanking, and I wouldn’t really be able to contradict you. I don’t have any idea how bad corporal punishment is. However, I do know that reading to kids can provide a giant boost to their intellectual development — and the study (but not the report) shows that depressed dads are much less likely than non-depressed dads to read to their kids regularly.

I’m no fan of spanking, but I’m a lot more worried about kids becoming dumb.

(Yeah, I’m aware of the irony of invoking THIS AMERICAN LIFE in an attack on the scientific foundations of an NPR article. Here are some scholarly articles on the topic if you want to chase them down.)

ETA: I posted a similar but somewhat better written analysis at Partial Objects.

One thought on “sad dads spank kids (?)

  1. At least they found a study where there was an actual significant difference found. That’s much better than you can say about a large percentage of “science” news stories, even if it has very little effect on the overall incidence.

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