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New Research on Spanking

Children who are spanked are at greater risk of taking part in risky or violent sexual behavior as teens and young adults, according to new research by Murray Straus, codirector of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. "One reason is that when a loving parent spanks, it fuses a relationship in a child's mind between loving and hitting," says Straus.

Although you may have occasionally resorted to a smack on the bottom, the most severe effects are associated with frequent corporal punishment. But since spanking's no more effective than other forms of discipline, it makes sense to switch to safer tactics, like rewarding good behavior or taking away a privilege for misbehavior. And if you decide to ban spanking in your house, discuss it with your kids, suggests Straus. "Tell them that's the plan," he says. "They'll help you stick to it!"