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Surprising Number of Parents Spank in Public

With studies linking it to aggressive behavior and mental illness later in life, you'd think spanking would be a taboo form of discipline that few parents would admit to doing, much less in public. But a new study conducted by Michigan State University revealed one in four parents discipline their child with negative physical contact, often in the form of spanking.

Plus: Spanking Can Lead to Aggressive Behavior in Children

In the study, published in the August 3 edition of  Behavior and Social Issues , researchers observed 106 instances of discipline in public settings with children ages three to five. Twenty-three percent of the instances were viewed as negative physical contact that included spanking, arm pulling, pinching and slapping. Dr. Kathy Stansbury, a researcher in the study, told CBS News that the high number of incidences surprised her, as she had never seen these results in a lab setting, where parents would know they are being observed and would likely be on their best behavior.

Plus: Spanking Children Can Lead to Mental Illness Later in Life

Thirty-five incidents of discipline were categorized as positive touch, which included hugging, tickling and gentle patting. Stansbury suggests that kids respond better and more quickly to this type of discipline. 

Do you spank? If so, are you open about it? Do you discipline your children differently in public than you would in your home? Leave a comment.