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