Saturday, 8 September 2012


Here we have another example of medical professionals whose first reflex is "we need to coerce people into agreeing with us -- there needs to be a new law."  This time it's about spanking your children to discipline them (last time it was about smoking, and next time it will be about helmets and who knows what after that).  Of course, we already have laws prohibiting child abuse, but they want to now include spanking as "assault," and refuse to accept that some parents may have ideas different than theirs.  Nor are they content with just informing parents that their strong recommendation is "never spank your kids."  No, they think there needs to be another law.  

CAGE thinks there should be a law prohibiting medical professionals from demanding new laws.  Luckily our present government in Canada has more sense than the Canadian Medical Association, however:  A spokesperson for Minister of Justice Rob Nicholson told the National Post, "Parents are in the best position to raise their children. We believe it is up to them, not the government, to decide what is best for their children so long as it is within reason."

And here's the kicker: The research that John Fletcher, the editor-in-chief of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), uses to support his request to ban spanking is almost certainly flawed.  Fletcher claims "research shows spanking is an ineffective tool and that there is substantial evidence linking it to mental health issues including depression and substance abuse as well as to increased aggressive behavior."   Now, could it be true "bad" parents, or stressed out parents, or parents in crisis, spank their children more often than other parents?  Isn't it likely that the "mental health issues" and "increased aggressive behavior" in kids could result from the parents' problems rather than the spanking?  Or what if parents in general are more likely to spank kids with "mental health issues" and "increased aggressive behavior," seeing as they've tried everything else to get the children to behave better? 

In both cases, spanking is positively correlated to mental health issues and aggressive behavior in kids, but is not actually the cause or even facilitating factor in these behaviors.  If you think the media will take the time to take apart the actual science behind Dr. Fletcher's claims, then you don't know much about average journalists' workload, deadlines and salaries.  So at mostly taxpayer expense, we get fed more nonsense science calling for more nonsense laws.  Enough already.




Ann W. said...

"(last time it was about smoking, and next time it will be about helmets and who knows what after that)."

144th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Medical Association
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 – St. John’s, NL

their list starts on page 3

C.A.G.E. said...

It is when ''support'' turns into coercion through bans of anything they can't obtain through education that it becomes troublesome. The medical profession is not paid to support and lobby for totalitarian policies. They got more than their hands full doing properly what they have been trained and paid to do. They should put their efforts in preventing what their profession causes : iatrogenic ailments and deaths by the tens of thousands.

Anonymous said...

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