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Spanking Harms Kids, Even 10 Years Later, Says New Scientific Study

S u m m a r y :
Spanking during infancy affects the child even when he becomes a teenager, says new research published in the journal Developmental Psychology.

Spanking Leaves Its Mark

Physical punishment such as spanking is detrimental to children, a harm that extends into later periods of their life as well. However, the majority of scientific studies investigating the negative effects of corporal punishment only show short-lasting links between discipline and child development; these consequences are documented to endure for less than a year. On the other hand, the new research, conducted by a team from the University of Missouri, shows that spanking experienced during infancy comes with negative impacts on the temperament and behaviour of children in their teenage years.

“Long-term studies on the links among parenting, temperament and children’s social behaviors have been limited, especially among racially diverse, low-income populations,” says study author Gustavo Carlo. “Our findings show that differences exist in the roles of parenting, temperament and self-regulation and how they impact a child’s development.”

Physical Punishment & Children’s Behaviour

Carlo and his colleagues studied data obtained from a group of 1,840 mothers and children when the latter were 15 months old, 25 months old, and in the fifth grade. The participants were all poor families, and identified as either European-American or African-American.

The findings show that African-American children who used to be severely punished at 15 months of age were more likely to be increasingly aggressive, with delinquent behaviours in the fifth grade. Moreover, they were less likely to display positive behaviours such as being kind to others.

However, the European-American participants did not show any association between punishment and negative emotions.

Also, both groups showed that self-regulation was linked with good behaviours.

An Advice: Avoid Spanking Kids

Carlo urges parents to refrain from physically punishing their children because of the long-lasting impacts shown in their study. He explains that the treatment parents give their children at a young age, specially when it comes to African-American kids, affects their behaviour to a great degree. According to him, parents should train their offspring to regulate their behaviours early on so that they adopt positive behaviours.

The new paper is hoped to help parents and teachers to understand well-being an resiliency in children from poor and racially-diverse backgrounds.

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