The Answer Sheet – Study says spanking can lead to aggressive behavior

Study says spanking can lead to aggressive behavior

A new study finds that children spanked frequently at the age of 3 are more likely to become aggressive when they are 5.

The study, led by Tulane University health researcher Catherine Taylor, says the finding remains true even when other factors–such as the parents’ stress level, depression, substance abuse, neglect, and the presence of other aggression within the family–are taken into account.

The study, “Mothers’ Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children’s Aggressive Behavior,” will appear in the May issue of Pediatrics.

The research study involved nearly 2,500 mothers. Almost 46 percent reported that they had not used corporal punishment on their child in the previous month, while 27.9 percent said they did one or two times and 26.5 percent reported spanking more than twice.

The mothers with more risk factors (stress, depression, drug/alcohol use) were more likely to spank frequently, but even accounting for that, frequent spanking at age 3 increased the odds of higher levels of aggression at age 5.

Out of my research area, but certainly in my personal sphere. This has been assumed for many years, though little actual research existed to support the findings. I still wonder about the practical relevance. I’d like to know what qualified as aggressive behavior. Was it an unwillingness to share or beating another kid on the playground?

I am of the opinion that spanking is not necessary. Encourage good behavior through positive reinforcement and discourage bad behavior with negative reinforcement (not of the beating kind). In-between, give them attention and love. Ok, I know I sound sappy, but it is what it is.

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