Study says spanking can lead to aggressive behavior
A new study finds that children spanked frequently at the age of 3 are more likely to become aggressive when they are 5.
The study, led by Tulane University health researcher Catherine Taylor, says the finding remains true even when other factors--such as the parents’ stress level, depression, substance abuse, neglect, and the presence of other aggression within the family--are taken into account.
The study, “Mothers’ Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children’s Aggressive Behavior,” will appear in the May issue of Pediatrics.
The research study involved nearly 2,500 mothers. Almost 46 percent reported that they had not used corporal punishment on their child in the previous month, while 27.9 percent said they did one or two times and 26.5 percent reported spanking more than twice.
The mothers with more risk factors (stress, depression, drug/alcohol use) were more likely to spank frequently, but even accounting for that, frequent spanking at age 3 increased the odds of higher levels of aggression at age 5.
The aggression was seen in behaviors such as screaming, arguing, bullying and being cruel to others.
“There are ways to discipline children effectively that do not involve hitting them and that can actually lower their risk for being more aggressive,” Taylor said. “So the good news is, parents don’t have to rely on spanking to get the results that they want. If they avoid spanking but instead use effective, non-physical types of discipline, their child has a better chance of being healthier, and behaving better later.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics as well as other medical organizations oppose corporal punishment at home and in schools.
That, unfortunately, hasn’t stopped the practice in schools. There are still 20 states that permit it, and the Supreme Court ruled in 1977 that it is legal for schools to spank or paddle kids for discipline in areas where it is not outlawed by local authorities.
So, in Mississippi, for example, there were 57,953 cases of corporal punishment in 110 of the state’s 152 school districts during the 2008-09 school year, according to the state Department of Education. It was a drop from the 58,343 cases reported a year earlier--but more than the 47,727 cases reported in 2006-07.
The Tulane study is just the latest in a long line of research studies extending back decades showing that corporal punishment should be considered as a significant risk factor that increases the probability of psychological disorders in children as they grow older.
This is a no-brainer. Adults should stop hitting kids.
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| April 14, 2010; 9:31 AM ET
Categories: Early Childhood, Health | Tags: Tulane study and spanking, aggressive behavior and spanking, corporal punishment, spanking, spanking causing aggression in kids, study and spanking
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