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Format: 04/23/2014
Format: 04/23/2014


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Spanking can make young children aggressive, study says

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

By Pohla Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Lawrence Newman, a psychologist at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, often finds it tough to talk to parents when the subject turns to spanking their kids.

"You can't argue with them," he said. "The parents say, 'But it works!' "

Their proof: the kids immediately stop misbehaving.

But at what price? Apparently, the risk of increased aggression on the part of the kids, according to a large, comprehensive study released today by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It is published in the May issue of the academy's journal, Pediatrics.

Researchers in the national study, directed by lead author Catherine A. Taylor of Tulane University, interviewed 2,461 mothers about their use of corporal punishment and their children's aggressive behavior at ages 3 and 5. Key demographics and eight potential parental factors that could affect the children's behavior -- for example, psychological maltreatment, domestic violence, depression and substance use -- also were covered.

After statistically controlling for those demographics and behavioral influences, the researchers still found that spanking a child of 3 more than twice a month was associated with an increased risk for higher levels of aggression at age 5.

Local experts noted that there have been similar studies with similar conclusions in the past but praised this one for its complexity and completeness.

"The results are consistent with earlier studies but perhaps a little more convincing because so many of those other factors are so well-controlled in this study," said Anthony Mannarino, vice president of the psychiatry department in the West Penn Allegheny Health System.


To read more, visit the Post-Gazette website.  

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