Spanking toddlers at home a worrisome trend: Study

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New York: Do you spank your baby often, little realising that this may lead to greater aggression, depression and other negative behaviour in his/her life later in life?

You are not alone in this disturbing trend that is catching up with the parents worldwide.

According to research, 30 percent of one-year-old children were spanked at least once in the past month by their mother, father or both parents.

What is more worrisome is that spanking is used on children who are so young that in some cases, they have not even taken their first step, warned researchers from University of Michigan.

This time, 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 one and five.

“Spanking babies is particularly misguided and potentially harmful and may set off a cascade of inappropriate parental behaviour. Their research is a snapshot of a larger problem: many people lack parenting skills that include alternatives to spanking,” explained professors Shawna Lee and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor from University of Michigan.

Previous research has focused on disciplining children as young as age three, in part, because spanking is common among children of this age.

“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 added.

Clinical and home visits 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 noted.

The study appeared in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.