A new survey of nearly 3,000 families found that 30 percent spank their children as a form of discipline. It's a punishment the researchers called misguided and noted that a percentage of families who spanked were visited by protective services.
The joint study out of the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin surveyed 2,788 families in urban areas over a five-year period, finding that it was relatively common for parents to spank children as young as a year old.
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Ten percent of all the families surveyed had least one visit by a child protective services agency, but the study published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect said families who spanked were 33 percent more likely to see a social services visit. University of Michigan social work professor Shawna Lee acknowledged to Reuters that other factors aside from spanking could have resulted in CPS visits as well.
The researchers said spanking children at a young age could not only be harmful to the child but could lead to poor parental behavior in the future as well. The university cited previous studies that linked spanking with aggression and poor vocabulary skills.
"Parents should not spank their children -- in particular, babies and very young children," Lee told Reuters.
Lee recommended parental intervention, such as at early childhood doctor appointments, "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 system."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents use discipline methods other than spanking.
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