September 16, 2009

Spanking linked to aggressive behavior

Spanking 1-year-old children leads to more aggressive behavior and less sophisticated cognitive development in the next two years, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at Duke University, the University of Missouri-Columbia, the University of South Carolina, Columbia University, Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say verbal punishment is not associated with aggression, especially when accompanied by emotional support from mothers.

The researchers interviewed and observed more than 2,500 poor white, African-American and Mexican-American mothers and their children at ages 1,2 and 3.

Mothers reported how often anyone in the home had spanked their children in the past week and researchers made in-home observations of how often mothers verbally punished by scolding, yelling or making negative comments.

The study, published in the journal Child Development, found African-American children were spanked and verbally punished significantly more than the other children in the study.

Children spanked more often at age 1 behaved more aggressively when they were 2 and had lower scores on tests measuring thinking skills when they were age 3, the researchers determined.