(HealthDay News) – Maternal and paternal spanking of children at age 5 impacts children’s externalizing behavior and receptive vocabulary scores at age 9, according to a study published online Oct. 21 in Pediatrics.
Michael J. MacKenzie, PhD, from Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues evaluated data from the Fragile Families and Child Well-Being Study longitudinal birth cohort. The authors sought to examine the prevalence of parental spanking of children at age 3–5 years and the correlation with children’s externalizing behavior and receptive vocabulary through age 9 (1,933 children).
The researchers found that 57% of mothers and 40% of fathers engaged in spanking when their children were aged 3 years, and 52% and 33%, respectively, engaged in spanking when their children were aged 5 years. After controlling for risks and earlier child behavior, maternal spanking at age 5, even at low levels, correlated with higher levels of child externalizing behavior at age 9. There was a correlation between a father’s high-frequency spanking at age 5 and lower receptive vocabulary scores at age 9.
“These results demonstrate negative effects of spanking on child behavioral and cognitive development in a longitudinal sample from birth through 9 years of age,” the authors write.