Briggs said that previous research has clearly shown that when children are in negative stressful situations, it can actually change the architecture of their brains and impair certain neural processes.
Dr. Stephen Ajl, a child abuse pediatrician, director of pediatric ambulatory care at the Brooklyn Hospital Center and medical director of the Jane Barker Brooklyn Children's Advocacy Center in New York City, said that "spanking and other forms of corporal punishment mean that someone has lost control, and if that goes on on a chronic basis, it may affect some part of children's psychological well-being."
And though some people believe that they can use spanking as a form of punishment without losing control, Briggs said that's very difficult to do all the time.
"When you're physical with your child, you open that floodgate, and the likelihood that it could veer into where you don't have as much control increases," Briggs said. "Plus, if you're just spanking, you haven't taught your child anything."
Straus's presentation at the violence conference was also to include findings from the study of university students, done by researchers in 32 countries. It found that in nations with decreasing use of corporal punishment, the countries' average IQ scores rose.
Those findings are plausible and make some sense, Briggs said, but she added that it's difficult to tease out all the other factors that could play a role in IQ scores -- including poverty and parental education.
Ajl recommended that parents think about how they want to discipline they're children before they're faced with a situation. And, he said, a pediatrician can help parents come up with more effective ways to discipline the
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