Spanking young children may contribute to future aggressive behaviors
Children who are spanked frequently at age 3 are more likely to be aggressive when they are 5, according to a study from Tulane University researchers.
Study researchers asked nearly 2,500 mothers how often they spanked their 3-year-old child in the past month, as well as questions about their child’s level of aggression, demographic features and eight identified maternal parenting risk factors, including neglect by the mother, violence or aggression between the parents, maternal stress and depression and maternal substance abuse.
Almost half (45.6%) of the mothers reported no spanking in the previous month, while 27.9% reported spanking one or two times, and 26.5% reported spanking more than twice.
Frequent spanking at age 3 increased the odds of higher levels of aggression at age 5. Signs of aggression included behaviors such as arguing or screaming, cruelty, bullying or meanness to others, destroying things; fighting and frequently threatening others.
Despite recommendations from the AAP against spanking, most parents in the United States have used corporal punishment as a form of child discipline. The study suggests that even minor forms of corporal punishment increase the risk for child aggressive behavior.