Study suggests spanking bad for cognitive development

Posted at 6:04 PM, Oct 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-23 20:04:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Parents have a variety of views on the effectiveness of spanking children, and a new study indicates spanking children can be more damaging to them than previously believed.

Scientists at Columbia University’s School of Social Work examined nearly 20,000 children from 20 large cities in the U.S., and they found out spanking is still common and can cause problems.

“We found that children who were spanked by fathers at high levels showed decreases in verbal capacity by age 9,” said Doctor Michael MacKenzie of Columbia University.

The study found that children who were spanked at least twice a week by their mother at age 3 or 5 were more likely to break rules and act aggressively. MacKenzie said most parents surveyed use spanking for discipline.

“Over 50 percent of parents by age five were spanking their children,” he said.

Wendy Bradford has three children under the age of five, and she said she is trying hard not to use spanking as a punishment. Instead, she said she uses a system of rewards.

Doctor Dyan Hes of Gramercy Pediatrics said options other than spanking are best.

“Discussing the bad behavior, positive reinforcement, limited use of time outs can be good,” she said.

Critics of the study said one issue is that researchers did not define spanking, which can range from a simple swat to a beating.

Click here for more information about the study and its findings.