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Spanking a Child Could Harm Their Social Development, Study Says

According to a recent study, children who are spanked exhibit a number of worsening social behaviors when compared to kids from non-violent homes, which may have a negative effect on their social development. The research adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests physical punishment can have long-term effects on children that last long.

In previous decades, spanking - in which parents strike kids as a kind of punishment - was an extremely popular method of discipline. However, research has since revealed that children who have experienced spanking have a range of behavioral and cognitive impairments. Despite the criticism, a 2019 study indicates that many parents still use spanking as a method of discipline, with half of US parents using it in the year before and a third using it in the week prior.

The use of corporal punishment may now affect social development in a number of ways, including more externalizing behaviors, decreased self-control, and decreased interpersonal skills in young children, according to Dr. Jeehye Kang of Old Dominion University's longitudinal research on children aged 5-7.

In an interview with PsyPost, Dr. Kang stated, “Although we oppose violence, we believe that spanking is somehow educational for children. Many parents believe that spanking will reduce ‘bad’ behaviors and raise good character in children. However, my study shows that spanking may hinder children’s development of self-control and interpersonal skills and even increase externalizing behaviors. Notably, this finding was robust with infrequent use of spanking, even once a week. In other words, spanking is doing the opposite of what parents intend to achieve.”

In total, 61 percent of the kids had received corporal punishment at some point in their lives, with 28 percent receiving it recently. At ages 6-7, the spanked kids exhibited worse self-control and social abilities, which suggests that their development was hindered immediately after the punishment. The findings imply that it does not take a considerable number of times for this punishment to be administered before it becomes problematic because frequent spanking was eliminated from the study.

The research indicates that spanking appears to have the "opposite impact" of what parents intend: it stifles children's social development rather than teaching them discipline.

The study was published in Child Abuse and Neglect.

Source: IFL Science, Psypost

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