"It is very important that parents refrain from physical punishment as it can have long-lasting impacts," Gustavo Carlo says in a press release. The University of Missouri professor is behind a study recently published in Developmental Psychology that looked at the long-term ramifications of spanking and other forms of physical discipline. While previous studies have shown spanking can have negative effects on child development in the short term, Carlo's study found children who faced physical discipline in infancy could continue to see negative effects into their teen years.
The study looked at data from 1,840 mothers and children. Information was collected on children at 15 months old, 25 months old, and in fifth grade. The study found that African-American children who were severely punished at 15 months were more likely to be delinquent and aggressive in fifth grade. They were also less likely to help others. However, the study didn't find the same link in European-American children. "Our findings show how parents treat their children at a young age, particularly African-American children, significantly impacts their behavior," Carlo says. (Alabama schools paddled 19,000 kids in a single school year.)