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Spanking May Make a Child More Aggressive
Date:4/12/2010

Corporal punishment at 3 linked to behavior changes at age 5, study suggests

MONDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) --Spanking children when they're 3 seems to lead to more aggressive behavior when they're 5, even if you take into account the child's initial level of aggression.

In other words, the old "I'll-give-you-something-to-cry-about" approach appears to backfire, new research suggests.

"We all know that children need guidance and discipline, but parents should focus on positive, non-physical forms of discipline, such as time-outs, and avoid spanking," said study author Catherine Taylor, an assistant professor of community health sciences at Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.

Corporal punishment, of which spanking is a relatively minor form, can have larger implications as well, according to experts.

"The article emphasizes how critical effective positive parenting is in breaking the cycle of violence and the potential to reduce overall levels of violence in our society," said Dr. Kathryn J. Kotrla, chairwoman of psychiatry and behavioral science at the College of Medicine, Texas A&M Health Science Center Round Rock campus.

Previous studies have also turned up a link between corporal punishment and aggression in children, but none has controlled for as many factors as the new one, published in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Many organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, counsel strongly against corporal punishment. An estimated 35 percent to 90 percent of parents still discipline their children this way.

For the new study, almost 2,500 mothers responded to questions about how often they had spanked their 3-year-old child during the past month. They were also asked about the child's aggression level at age 3, as well as various parental risk factors such as maternal depression, alcohol
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