Mothers Who Spank More Likely to Have Aggressive Tots, Study Finds

Twenty states still allow the practice in their public schools and according to statistics from the Center for Effective Discipline, 223,190 public school students were hit in 2008 as a form of discipline. So-called "spanking bans" for schools have been a contentious issue, especially among southern states.

While it may stop poor behavior in the short term, notes Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology and child psychiatry at Yale University's Child Study Center, physical discipline, whether wielded by a parent or another authority figure, "fails to teach correct behavior in the long run."

What's more, research tells us that moderate to heavy corporal punishment also brings with it several negative side effects, such as increased aggression, poor academic achievement, poor parent-child relations, and increased likelihood of mental health problems, Kazdin says.

Kazdin has seen the direct connection between parental violence and childhood aggression at his clinic.

"When one trains parents to stop using corporal punishment and use other techniques, child aggression decreases," he says. "We've seen that for 30 years."

Moreover, other forms of punishment can offer an opportunity for growth, Briggs says.

"I encourage parents to consider discipline as an opportunity for education -- to teach your child impulse control, understanding of cause and effect, and effective ways to manage difficult situations," she says.

"Thus, while the very occasional spank may be appropriate, I strongly suggest other methods."

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