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Spanking makes a child more aggressive

Spanking young children could lead to aggressive behaviour later on, even if the child's initial level of aggression is taken into account.

Spanking makes a child more aggressive

Spanking young children could lead to aggressive behaviour later on, even if the child's initial level of aggression is taken into account.

Physical punishment, of which spanking is a relatively minor form, can have negative implications on a child's psychological and behavioural development. Previous studies have found associations between physical or corporal punishment and aggression in children, but none have taken child's initial level of aggression, parental depression, etc into account. Many organisations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, counsel strongly against corporal punishment, though a large number of parents still try to discipline their children this way.

To see if spanking a 3-year-old child leads to aggressive behaviour later on, researchers interviewed 2461 American mothers about how often they had spanked their 3-year-old child during the past month. They were also asked about the child's aggression level at age 3 years, as well as various parental risk factors such as maternal depression, alcohol use and violence among other members of the family.

About half of the mothers said they had not spanked their child in the previous month, while 28 percent reported spanking once or twice, and a similar proportion - around 27percent - said they had used this type of corporal punishment more than twice during that time period. It was found that three-year-old children who were spanked two or more times in the previous month had a 50 percent higher risk of being aggressive when they turned 5 years old.

The findings suggest that even minor forms of physical punishment, such as spanking, makes children more aggressive later on.
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