A new study published in the May issue of Pediatrics suggests that young children who are routinely spanked could become more aggressive.
Researchers at Tulane University shared their findings after studying approximately 2,500 mothers of three-year-olds and following them for a period of three to five years.
Those children who were spanked more frequently at the age of three (more than twice a month) seemed to exhibit more aggressive behavior by the age of five, including bullying, threatening and destruction. Although 45.6 percent of mothers in the study did not spank their children at all, 26.5 percent fell into the group who spanked more than twice a month. Many of those mothers in the frequent spanking group were also at other risks for parenting, something which was taken into account by the researchers.
American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines oppose corporal punishment, including spanking, despite the fact that many parents in the United States use and approve of it in parenting.
As the authors note, "Whether CP (corporal punishment) causes aggression is of particular relevance for public health interests in disrupting the cycle of violence." As part of their conclusions, they state, "This evidence base suggests that primary prevention of violence can start with efforts to prevent the use of CP against children."
The researchers acknowledge that their study provided controls for "key potential maternal parenting risk confounders that previously have not been examined simultaneously." To that extent, they believe they have added to the research on corporal punishment and childhood aggression in a statistically significant way.
Link to the abstract for the article can be found here:
Catherine A. Taylor, Jennifer A. Manganello, Shawna J. Lee, Janet C. Rice. Mothers' Spanking of 3-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Risk of Children's Aggressive Behavior (May 1, 2010, Volume 125, Number 5)
On the Web:
Pediatrics (Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics)
Tulane Researchers Find Spanking Can Make Children More Aggressive Later - Tulane University