Researchers: Spanking Linked to Long-Term Problems for Kids

Mounting evidence suggests that spanking kids sets them up for long-term negative consequences, according to a research review published this week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The review found that children disciplined with spanking or slapping are more likely to be aggressive as children and delinquent as they get older. Research also shows that physical punishment may slow cognitive development.

Joan Durrant of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and her coauthor reviewed studies on physical punishment conducted in the last two decades and say none of the studies showed benefits to spanking.

In one U.S. study, researchers looked at 2,400 mothers who spanked their 3-year-olds twice the previous month, and found that children had an increased risk for higher levels of aggression when they were 5 years old.

"In the U.S., physical punishment is such an entrenched part of the culture that virtually no one has experienced growing up without it," Durrant said. "This situation makes it difficult for parents to visualize raising a child without it."

This raises an obvious question: Is it possible that children who are spanked are naturally more difficult or aggressive? The researchers report that some studies controlled for those factors but still found that spanking was linked to later behavior problems.

Another study found that parents who were taught no-spank techniques for dealing with misbehavior reported a drop in their child's difficult behaviors as the parents adopted the new techniques. The researchers encourage parents to learn such techniques.

Parents, what's your take on this research?

Image: Spanking via Shutterstock.

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