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Study: Spanking Can Lead to Aggressive Behavior in Children

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To spank or not to spank? Opinions vary wildly on this emotionally-charged subject. But according to a recent review of 20 years of research, spanking can have a long-term, negative impact on child development, reports MSNBC.

The analysis shows that while there are short-term benefits to spanking, there is no link between positive behavior and corporal punishment in the long-run. Instead, a child that is hit is more likely to be aggressive—toward family members or their peers—and exhibit other antisocial behavior. No study has been able to establish positive associations with physical discipline, to date.

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"I think it's important for parents to understand that although physical punishment might get a child to do something in the immediate situation, there are many side effects that can develop over the long term," said Joan Durrant, co-author of the study and a child clinical psychologist at Family Social Sciences at the University of Manitoba in Canada. 

According to an article in TIME, children who are spanked are also more prone to lying, as they will say anything to avoid being spanked. Harsher punishments can hurt self-esteem and lead to mental health issues like depression and anxiety, as well as substance-abuse, later in life.

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 “Two-year-olds are the most aggressive people in the world. They don’t understand the impact of their behavior and they can’t inhibit themselves. So the more a child sees someone resolving conflict with aggression, the more aggressive they become,” Durrant said.

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Do you spank your children? From your personal experience, do you think there is truth in this study?

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