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U-M Study: 30 Percent Of Babies Are Spanked

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ANN ARBOR (CBS Detroit) Forget the naughty chair, a new study from the University of Michigan shows that many parents are going straight to corporal punishment.

The study found 30 percent of 1-year-old children were spanked at least once in the past month by their mother, father or both parents.

A long-time topic of debate, many parents in the U.S. spank their children, study authors said, adding previous research has focused on disciplining children as young as age 3, in part, because spanking is common among children of this age.

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

Researchers examined 2,788 families who participated in a study 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 1 and 5.

During that time, 10 percent of the families received at least one visit by CPS.

U-M social work professors Shawna Lee and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor say that spanking babies is particularly misguided and potentially harmful, and may set off a cascade of inappropriate parental behavior.

They believe the study points to the fact too many parents aren’t informed about 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 say.

The study, which appears in the current issue of Child Abuse & Neglect, was also co-authored with Lawrence Berger of the University of Wisconsin.

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