To assess genetic predisposition, the researchers looked at a group of about 1,500 twins. They compared the behavior of identical twins to fraternal twins. Since identical twins share 100 percent of their genetic makeup, the researchers said that behaviors under genetic influence would be more common in identical twins than in fraternal twins. Fraternal twins share about 50 percent of their genetic makeup.
The researchers then looked at the effect of genetic predisposition and the use of corporal punishment and how those factors influence a child's behavior both separately and together.
They found that for both boys and girls having a genetic risk for aggressive behavior increased the risk of antisocial behavior in children. The use of corporal punishment also increased the risk of antisocial behavior in both sexes, according to Barnes.
But, when the two factors were combined -- genetic risk and corporal punishment -- only boys seemed to have an even greater likelihood of antisocial behavior, according to the study.
"I'm not surprised to see that they're concluding that there's evidence proving that genetic factors are involved in the development of aggressive behaviors. There's a complex interaction between genetics and environment," said Dr. Roya Samuels, an attending physician in the department of general pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.
"Many studies have shown detrimental long-term effects from the use of corporal punishment in children. But, it still occurs with great frequency in this country," she said.
As children get older, it becomes especially difficult for parents who've relied on corporal punishment to discipline effectively, she noted.
Instead of physical punishment, Samuels suggests developing a supportive, nurturing relationship with your child. She said parents should reinforce positive behaviors, and give structure and a d
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