Studies have shown that spanking can lead to behavior problems. now researchers find it may also hurt a child's cognitive development.
"We found that children who were spanked by fathers at high levels showed decreases in verbal capacity by age nine," said Dr. Michael MacKenzie with the Columbia University School of Social Work
Children who were spanked at least twice a week by their mother at age 3 or 5 were also more likely to break rules and act aggressively.
Scientists at Columbia University School of Social Work looked at nearly 2,000-children from 20 large cities in the U.S. and found spanking is still very common. "Over 50 percent of parents by age five were spanking their children and that was only looking at spanking in the past month," Dr. MacKenzie said.
Wendy Bradford has three children under five and is trying hard not to spank. "I'm stuck with three kids in a small apartment who have been acting out for a few hours and that's the last straw of the day and it's not ok," she said.
Most pediatricians agree there are better ways to discipline. "Discussing the bad behavior, positive reinforcement, limited use of time outs can be good," said Dr. Dyan Hes with Gramercy Pediatrics.
Wendy is trying a reward system with marbles."I need a whole new set of methods," she said.
Doctors also suggest parents take a time out themselves to think of the most effective punishment before spanking.
Critics say one issue with the study is that researchers did not define spanking -- which can range from a swatting to more forceful hitting. For a link to that study, click here.
Alison Harmelin - CBS News
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