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Childhood Spanking Linked to Negative Behaviors and Lower Vocabulary Scores in Children

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Although childhood spanking and other physical punishments are still widely used in the United States, a growing body of research suggests that childhood spanking may be linked to behavioral problems. 

To further investigate the effects of spanking, researchers supported by the Population Dynamics Branch followed 1,933 children from the ages of 3 to 9. They found that 52% of mothers and 33% of fathers spanked when children were age 5. They also found that:

  • Children who had been spanked by their mothers at age 5 had higher levels of negative behavior at age 9.
  • Spanking by fathers at age 5 was associated with lower vocabulary scores in children at age 9. 

These findings provide a basis for increased efforts to study and for incorporating positive parenting behaviors as replacements for spanking (PMID: 24144718).

Last Updated Date: 05/29/2014
Last Reviewed Date: 05/29/2014