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Spanking Babies is Still Common, And Misguided

Spanking Babies is Still Common, And MisguidedNew research suggests spanking is still relatively common, and at a very early age.

University of Michigan investigators found that 30 percent of one year-old children were spanked at least once in the past month by their mother, father, or both parents.

Previous research has focused on disciplining children as young as age three, in part, because spanking is common among children of this age. But the latest findings show that spanking is used on children who are so young that, in some cases, they haven’t even taken their first step.

Studies have shown that spanking is related to children’s greater aggression, depression, and other negative behavior.

In the new study, researchers examined 2,788 families who participated in a multi-year followup of new births in urban areas.

The study indicated that spanking by the child’s mother, father, or mother’s current partner when the child was a year old was linked to child protective services’ involvement between ages one and five. During that time, 10 percent of the families received at least one visit by child protective services.

University of Michigan social work professors Drs. Shawna Lee and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor said spanking babies is particularly misguided and potentially harmful, and may set off a cascade of inappropriate parental behavior.

Their research is a snapshot of a larger problem: Many people lack parenting skills that include alternatives to spanking.

“Intervention to reduce or eliminate spanking has the potential to contribute to the well-being of families and children who are at-risk of becoming involved with the (social services) system,” Lee said.

“Perinatal well-baby clinical visits and home visitations after the child’s birth are opportunities for pediatricians, nurses, and social workers to talk to parents about alternatives to spanking babies and toddlers,” the researchers said.

The study appears in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.

Source: University of Michigan

Man spanking a baby photo by shutterstock.

Spanking Babies is Still Common, And Misguided

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Spanking Babies is Still Common, And Misguided. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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