Kelly Clarkson says she's 'not above' smacking her children

Kelly Clarkson says she was smacked as a child.
Kelly Clarkson says she was smacked as a child. Photo: Instragram/Kelly Clarkson

American singer Kelly Clarkson has sparked debate over whether it is okay to smack your child after admitting she is "not above spanking" her two children.

The mother of River Rose, three, and Remy, one, told listeners of radio.com that she was "spanked" as a child and turned out just fine. But she says she thinks twice about hitting her children in public because not everyone agrees with her parenting style.

Her controversial comments have been widely reported in the US, where experts oppose spanking.

The American Academy of Paediatrics does not recommend spanking, which it says has been shown to make children aggressive later in life and cause mental health issues.

Smacking was banned in Sweden in the 1970s and since then 50 countries have followed suit.

Scotland outlawed the practice late last year and Wales is close to doing the same.

In Australia, there have been numerous calls to ban smacking. The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is among the bodies to support a ban.

Last year, Felicity Gerry QC, the Australian co-author of a paper published in the International Journal of Child Rights, renewed calls for a ban here, arguing it was difficult to identify abusive parents when it was legal to smack a child.

"Physical punishment of children is clearly counter to the UN CRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child), which confers absolute protection for children against violence while in the care of parents ... or any other person," the paper states.

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The paper found that hitting children as part of discipline was "deeply embedded in cultural views, government law and social policy" in Australia, the US and the UK.

"Some proponents of corporal punishment of children believe that physical punishment of children is thought to teach respect for authority and failure to physically punish them leads to uncontrolled, disrespectful, acting-out behaviour," the paper states.

"However, the more parents use physical punishment, the more aggressive their children become over time …"

But Clarkson, who often shares snaps of her adorable children with her 2.8 million Instagram followers, says she doesn't think she was adversely affected by being spanked and uses the same technique when disciplining her daughter, adding "[I] don't mean like hitting her hard, I just mean a spanking".

 

So thankful for this little nugget #RiverRose #RedCarpetReady

A post shared by Kelly Clarkson (@kellyclarkson) on

"My parents spanked me, I did fine in life and I feel fine about it…" she said, adding this was the norm in Texas, where she grew up.

"My mum would call the principal if I ever ended up in the principal's office and give permission for her to spank me ... I'm a well-rounded individual with a lot of character, so I think it's fine."

Clarkson says she also threatens to spank her children to get them to behave.

"I'm like, 'Hi, I'm gonna spank you on your bottom if you don't stop right now'," she said, before adding this could be "tricky … when you're out in public".

"People are like, you know, they think that's wrong or something, but I find nothing wrong with a spanking," she said.

But experts don't agree.

The most comprehensive research ever carried out into smacking, which was released last year, found it was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes, including more aggression, more antisocial behaviour, more externalising problems, more internalising problems, more mental health issues and poorer relationships with parents. It was also linked to lower cognitive ability and lower self-esteem.

The research also found smacking was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which was the aim of parents who smacked their children. The research, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, looked at 50 years of studies that examined the impacts of smacking on 160,000 children.

It also looked at the long-term effects of smacking and found adults who were smacked were more likely to display antisocial behaviour and experience mental health problems. They were also more likely to physically punish their own children.

The researchers found the same negative outcomes in all countries where studies had taken place and recommended parents reconsider physically disciplining their children.

They concluded "there is no evidence that spanking does any good for children and all evidence points to the risk of it doing harm".

In fact, it found children who were smacked exhibited the same detrimental effects as children who had been abused.