corpun logoWorld Corporal Punishment Research

rainbow ruler   :  Archive   :  2015   :  US Domestic Mar 2015


Domestic CP - March 2015

Corpun file 26044 at


The Washington Post "Wonkblog" (web only), 5 March 2015

Millennials like to spank their kids just as much as their parents did


By Scott Clement

NFL star Adrian Peterson's indictment last September over hitting his son with a switch renewed a long-running debate over whether parents should give up spanking their children. But as some anti-spanking activists acknowledge, the fight is a tough slog as Americans see spanking as largely acceptable. Newly released data find no sign of that changing.

Fully seven in 10 U.S. adults agree a "good, hard spanking is sometimes necessary to discipline a child," while less than half as many disagree (29 percent) according to the 2014 wave of the General Social Survey released Tuesday by NORC at the University of Chicago. After a modest drop in popularity in the late-1980s and 90s, support has stabilized, fluctuating between 68 and 72 percent in the past decade.

Endorsing spanking "sometimes" is far from approving of Peterson's actions, which allegedly caused numerous injuries. And the news appears to have had minimal impact overall -- a comparison of responses before and after the news broke finds no difference in support.

Graph showing opinion poll support for parental spanking

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.

Bar chart: support for spanking by age group

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).

Bar chart: support for spanking by region

Most Jewish Americans also stand out for their hesitance about spanking -- 59 percent disagree that spanking children is necessary in combined waves from 2006-2014, while at least six in 10 Protestants, Catholics, other faiths and those with no religion say the opposite. The sample size for Jewish respondents is small given their small share of the population -- only 128 cases in combined surveys since 2006 -- but they are large enough to be statistically significant by traditional metrics.

Bar chart: support for spanking by religious faith

Given their small size in the population, Jews and New Englanders are not likely to weigh down support for spanking in the future. Support for spanking children has been mostly locked in place for three decades and appears here to stay.

Peyton M. Craighill contributed to this report.
Scott Clement is a survey research analyst for The Washington Post. Scott specializes in public opinion about politics, election campaigns and public policy.

© 1996-2015 The Washington Post

About this website

Search this site

Country files: Domestic CP in USA

Other external links for US spanking

Video clips

Picture index

Archive 2015: USA

blob THE ARCHIVE index

blob Video clips

blob Picture index

blob About this website

blob Country files  Main menu page

Copyright © C. Farrell 2015
Page created July 2015