Monday, October 21, 2013

Spanking linked to later aggression in children

Consistent with my experience when I was babysitting. The children who were the hardest to deal with were those whose parents were into spanking.

Genevra Pittman
Oct. 21, 2013

Think spanking will help teach an out-of-control child to stay in line? A new study suggests the opposite may be true.

Researchers found kids who were spanked as 5-year-olds were slightly more likely to be aggressive and break rules later in elementary school.

Those results are in keeping with past research, said Elizabeth Gershoff. She studies parental discipline and its effects at the University of Texas at Austin.

"There's just no evidence that spanking is good for kids," she told Reuters Health.

"Spanking models aggression as a way of solving problems, that you can hit people and get what you want," said Gershoff, who wasn't involved in the new study.

"When (children) want another kid's toy, the parents haven't taught them how to use their words or how to negotiate."

Despite mounting evidence on the harms tied to spanking, it is "still a very typical experience" for U.S. children, the study's lead author said.


Kids also tended to score lower on vocabulary tests when they had been regularly spanked by their fathers at age 5, MacKenzie and his colleagues write in Pediatrics.


When it comes to disciplining children, she said there's more evidence on what doesn't work long-term than what does.

"We know that spanking doesn't work, we know that yelling doesn't work," Gershoff said. "Timeout is kind of a mixed bag. We know that reasoning does work."

MacKenzie said spanking continues to seem effective to parents in the short term, which makes it hard to change their minds about it.

"It's strongly associated with immediate compliance," he told Reuters Health. "Children will change their behavior in the moment."


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