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

use and violence among other members of the family.

About half of the mothers said they had not spanked their child in the previous month, while 27.9 percent reported spanking one or two times, and a similar proportion -- 26.5 percent -- said they had used this type of corporal punishment more than twice during that time period.

Three-year-old children who were spanked two or more times in the previous month had a 50 percent increased chance of being aggressive when they turned 5, according to the study.

The study could not prove a cause-and-effect relationship, but it is the strongest research of its kind to date, the researchers said.

"We know that kids learn by what parents do, so if a child is hit for whatever reason, you're really teaching the child that hitting or acting out or being aggressive is OK," said Taylor.

"Another theory," she added, "is that the more frequently children are hit for whatever reason, the more stress they're feeling, which can impact brain development, emotional development and can impact behavior."

Psychologist Robin Gurwitch, program coordinator of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement, agreed. "This study emphasizes in an even stronger way than some previous studies that corporal punishment at a young age is associated with more aggression later," she said. "How do we help parents think through what might be some more effective strategies than corporal punishment, and there are several strategies. Parents need to develop a menu of possibilities."

Kotrla added, "This study further suggests that state and federal policy makers should address the issue of corporal punishment and its avoidance to reduce the cost of societal violence through effective parenting."

More information

For more on child development, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventi
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