Monday, October 21, 2013

The Longitudinal Effects of Spanking

We are certainly aware of prior studies that suggest discipline and limit-setting should not be achieved through corporal punishment such as spanking. Yet despite our educating families to use different strategies such as time-outs, in this country and around the world, parents continue spanking. Is there anything new to further convince parents that their hand striking a child’s bottom is not the way to make their point?

Photo by Captain Ted via Flickr
Fortunately, a new study we are releasing this week might help our educational efforts with families. MacKenzie et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1227) report on a longitudinal birth cohort of almost 2,000 children in 20 cities whose parents self-reported spanking at ages 3 and 5 and who were then followed to age 9 and evaluated for their behavior and cognitive development. The study indicates that both fathers and mothers still spank their children at a much higher percentage than I expected, and perhaps you as well.

More concerning is the association between spanking and behavioral and cognitive development as shown in this study—but rather than tell you about the findings, read them for yourself and then take some time out with families to make sure they understand the potential negative effects spanking may have on their child’s future behavioral and cognitive development.

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