Children who were spanked often early in life by their mothers were more likely to be aggressive later in childhood compared to kids who weren't spanked at all, a study published in Pediatrics on Oct. 21 concluded. Being spanked by dads was also linked to vocabulary and language problems in kids.
"These effects are long-lasting. They aren't just short-term problems that wash out over time. And the effects were stronger for those who were spanked more than twice a week," co-author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York, told HealthDay.
The study involved more than 1,900 families in 20 medium to large U.S. cities who were enrolled in the long-running Fragile Families and Child Well-Being study. Parents were asked how often they spanked their child when he or she was age 3 and 5, and a child's aggressive behavior and vocabulary were evaluated at 3 and 9 years.
In total, 57 percent of mothers and 40 percent of fathers spanked their child at the age of 3. When the child was 5, 52 percent of mothers and 33 percent of fathers spanked their kids.
Mothers who were still spanking their child by the age of 5 -- no matter how often -- were more likely to have a child who was more aggressive than his or her peers by the time they turned nine. Mothers who spanked their child at least twice a week when they were 3 also had children more likely to have these problem behaviors.
Children who were spanked at least twice a week by their fathers at the age of 5 were more likely to score lower on vocabulary and language-comprehension tests.
Image: Parent angry with child, via Shutterstock