Times change, but spanking remains acceptable, study says

As most any parent can tell you, sooner or later the words you hear coming out of your mouth, are the same ones your parents used.

That is to say: We parent the way we were parented. We may think we’re more enlightened as parents, but we’re not, and a study out today confirms that in at least one area of parenting: spanking.

After a modest drop in the ’80s and ’90s, support for spanking has returned to its previous level of acceptance, with seven of 10 adults saying a “good, hard spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child,” according to the General Social Survey from the University of Chicago. The survey has studied societal chance since 1972.

The Washington Post, while mistakenly referring to Adrian Peterson’s whipping of his son as a “spanking”, says Millenials are as OK with spanking as their parents were.

Millennials – the most recent generation to have been children – aren’t leading any attitudes change on the issue of spanking, in contrast to gay marriage and marijuana. If anything, they are slightly more supportive than their elders. These small differences should not be interpreted too strongly – a statistical analysis by Fivethirtyeight’s Harry Enten last year found age was not a strong influence on child spanking views after controlling for other factors. Enten found race, region, religion and partisanship are key influences toward these attitudes.

Who doesn’t approve of spanking children? The survey finds two interesting groups where most oppose the practice. The first is New England residents – 55 percent disagree that it is sometimes necessary to spank a child in the survey, 19 points higher than any of the other Census divisions.

Spanking is most acceptable in the South, with 80 percent agreeing it is necessary. But even across other regions outside New England, over 60 percent agree spanking is sometimes necessary. (Regional breakdowns include data from 2010, 2012 and 2014 to boost sample size).