Spanking triggers vicious cycle, study finds

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Does spanking impact a child's ability to behave in the future? A new study sheds light on the impact of the practice. (Image Credit:

(CBS News, HEALTHDAY) – Parents who spank unruly children may not know it, but they are participating in a vicious cycle that will lead to both more spankings and more misbehavior in coming years, a new study suggests.

Researchers wanted to resolve the age-old “chicken-and-egg” question that surrounds the issue of physical discipline in childhood — do spankings promote aggression in children, or do naturally aggressive children simply receive more spankings as parents try to control their behavior?

The answer is yes to both, said study author Michael MacKenzie, an associate professor at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City.

Across a child’s first decade of life, current spankings will lead to future misbehavior — but current misbehavior also will lead to future spankings, the investigators found.

“You can think of it as an escalating arms race, where the parent gets more coercive and the child gets more aggressive, and they get locked into this cycle,” MacKenzie said. “These processes can get started really early, and when they do there’s a lot of continuity over time.”

The findings are based on almost 1,900 families from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. That’s a decade-old research project conducted by researchers at Columbia and Princeton universities involving children born in 20 large American cities between 1998 and 2000.

Note: The above text is excerpted directly from an article appearing at Click here to read the full story.


  • Kelly Baker

    This article is ABSOLUTELY ABSURD!!!!! I was raised being spanked and to my knowledge none of this applies to me!!!!! What is wrong with today’s younger generation is no consequences for their actions!!!! I just cannot use the word “ABSURD” enough when describing this article!!!!! 😠😠😠

    • Elizabeth Teal

      So says Dr, Spook and now this Michael!!! You are right on as many others that left comments! My siblings and I were whipped when we did wrong and raised to believe in God and that made us grow up respecting our parents! None of us have ever been jailed or been in trouble with the law!! So I guess those good old whipping made us what we are today!! And that’s how I raised my kids!!! Bible says spare the rod ,spoil the child!!!

  • Olivia

    For starters, you shouldn’t be spanking a child under the age of 1 anyway. They have no idea what they are getting the spanking for! For any punishment to do any good, the child has to know why.

    I do believe in spanking a child though. Remember, there is a difference between spanking a child and beating a child. Never over punish a child and never under punish a child.

  • elizabeth carney

    when i grew up i got spankings with belts switches even barber straps i havent been in jail prison thats whats wrong with kids today thats why they kill beat people whoop that butt you dont have to leave a mark but let them know that you mean buiness im sorry i cant spell

  • Shane

    Whoop that kids tail!!! Lol. Many people that I know who don’t believe in God or the bible still believe in the principles it teaches. One of those principles is child discipline. It tells me if I spare the rod I hate my child. It also says that foolishness is bound in the heart of a child but the rod of correction will drive it far from him. There are many more in the bible that pertain so I choose to believe in that set of prociples over some bean counting pencil pushing professor. Wonder how his kids have turned out or if he even has any???

    • screw aarp

      Please remember people, this story comes from a liberal media outlet. take it with a grain of salt ,just another way the liberal media is trying to dumb down the American people.

      • Biblegal

        Preeaaacchhh, Screw!!! Well said! Everytime I read news articles, such as this one, with liberal views it just burns me up.

  • Skillpot

    Take it from me, a keen peach tree switch is the best thing going! It stings, and gets the child’s attention, but does not do bodily harm! Of course, the Billy Belt, on the backs of adults seems to be the best thing for those who do not discipline their children!

  • Tim

    LIGHT THEM UP!!! That is the problem with these kids today, they have no respect for authority because they know you can’t punish them. Put paddling back in schools, heck give the teachers tasers.

  • Nuclear Mike

    This reflects the liberal view of total tolerance of any activitythat requires a physical punishment for unacceptable behavior…my Momma straighened me out on several occasions when I was the ‘bad boy’ who deserved his Mother’s switch across the “back of the legs” to remind me to do as I was told not as I please.

  • Rebecca Vickers

    spanking can do good if u do it right and the child has no other my son son has Autism and before i knew i spanked his butt it never did any good though and now i know why…i was beat as a child and sexually abused and i have done them things to my kids nor have i ever been in prison..

  • Rick Bradshaw

    Spanking when you are angry is child abuse! Take a time out and think
    how best deal with the child . Ask them a lot Questions teach them to know what they have dun wrong and why they are wrong.understand how and why they think the way they are thinking. and find a way for a correction that will be most effective .

  • Wake Up

    I hate science when it tells me things I do not want to hear!!! We must stop science before it destroys all our cherished beliefs!!!

  • Mr. Spanky

    Today’s societal thinking is laughable at best. I received one, may two spankings growing up. After my father spanked me I didn’t want another and that was that. And after my mother slapped me for back talking, I began to keep my mouth shut and I turned out just fine.

  • Steve

    It’s very evident that the folks conducting this study never had their backsides tanned. Why don’t they study something useful, like a cure for cancer.

  • Michael

    I’m all for spanking a child, but I think the problem arises when parents spank their kids out of anger and not to discipline them. I’ve seen instances in stores and in public where a parent will spank their kid but then won’t tell him or her why there was a spanking. Of course the child isn’t going to learn to behave in that situation. Child probably thinks it got a beating just because.

  • Wake Up

    The professional groups listed below are all officially against physical punishment of children (spanking).

    The American Academy of Pediatrics
    American Medical Association
    American Bar Association
    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    American Psychological Association
    American Sociological Association
    National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners
    Nation Association of Social Workers
    National Foster Parent Association
    Society for Adolescent Medicine
    American Psychoanalytic Association
    National Association of Elementary Principles
    National PTA
    National Education Association
    National Association of School Psychologists
    National Mental Health Association

    • Bill

      So??????????????????????? I’d be willing to bet thank the Heads of these organizations were spanked by their parents. Now if their 40 or younger, that may not be the case.

      • Wake Up

        Those professional groups are not opposed to spanking because the head of the group is personally opposed. They are opposed because they have conducted tons of research (it is called science) and have everyday practical experience with what results from all the physical attacks on children.

      • Wake Up

        Ah yes, next time you get advice from your doctor (a member of the American Medical Association) you just tell them, “Doc, I don’t think I will listen to you — I don’t want to commit an appeal to a liberal authority logical fallacy! I think I will just go to the voodoo doctor down the street that I believe in!”

        And you wonder why so many people laugh at Alabama!

      • Branko Pezdi

        It was guaranteed you’d come up with yet another red herring, irrelevant response, Wake Up, since you always need to have the last word.

      • Branko Pezdi

        On the contrary, these liberal groups are all opposed to spanking because it is politically incorrect.

      • Wake Up

        Actually, you have it backwards. It is politically incorrect because the science shows spanking to be bad.

      • Wake Up

        That is correct, I did. The Democrats (DNC) supports and embraces science. The Republicans are the ones opposed to science and act like dinosaurs!

    • screw aarp

      Please. , site the data form these “professional groups”, from magazine articels ,or books ,or publications from these “professional groups that will support your statement. As always you talk a good socialist (community orgnizer) game , but spew your facts,hopeing no one will call you on it wakeup. they may believe your B.S. in the HOOD, but not here.

      • Branko Pezdi

        Wake Up has been called out both here and in other forums and lost. He is the only one who doesn’t grasp the absurdity of his positions. His knowledge of science, for instance, is roughly the equivalent of Al Gore’s.

      • screw aarp

        Wakeup your caught again with NO facts, so as your start calling people names ,right out of the Saul Alinsky play book. Wakeup everyone on this forum knows your a fraud. and look at your comments as a joke.

    • mistywhitem

      That’s Great/ Maybe those places can keep these people up when they end up in Jail cause there were never any boundries are actions taken when they do wrong. I spank and will always spank . I came from a home that spanked and I know if I do wrong Action will be taken. This world is going to hell Cause no one wants to take action for anything. IDIOTS. Then wonder why our Jail cells are full and no one can control any one are anybody. STARTS at home and with the Parents.

  • Bill

    With all the various topics that arise on this forum, it’s refreshing to see a majority of the responses AGREE on a topic as this. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that we as parents create our on monsters. Young folks today want what their parents have NOW. The parents took many years to get what they have NOW,but the younger generation thinks they deserve it now without any blood sweat and tears.
    The parents who agree on spanking, will find their future with their kids much more rewarding because those children understand that there are consequences to their actions.
    Parents today want to be their kids friends first, and parents second. Be a parent now, and your children will THANK YOU later!

  • Laura

    I believe in tearing up a child’s rear only as a last result. They are lectured
    Given a warning after their second offense, and they are told they will get a whipping if they do whatever it is again. I have some of the best children around me. I got my butt tore up when I was a kid too. When the children as big as you are I believe whippings will be less feared & that’s when the long room restrictions come into play. It worked for me & it will work again. I do believe that you have to parent 100% of the time. If your kids think your a pushover your only going to make it hard on yourself & the child. If you spare the rod you spoil the child. If you raise them right in the beginning you won’t have such a hard time in the end.

  • Karen

    If you look at decade they studied, children born between 1998-2000, it’s the entitled generation. I believe if you spank your child you are teaching them and clearly there was not enough spankings done in that generation. Spanking does not beget more spankings. Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child.

    • Branko Pezdi

      Actually it’s much worse than that. This study oversamples children born to single mothers and in dysfunctional families and is limited to 20 large cities. Therefore any conclusions that are applied to the GENERAL topic of spanking are patently absurd. But these same conclusions make liberals and the media they control (e.g. WHNT) feel good because they can do more finger wagging at the rest of us who have constructed such an evil society.

  • Alisha Harbin

    I was raised in a Godly parented home. my parents taught me the Word of God. The Word speaks that if you spare the rod, you spoil the child. If you do not discipline your children, you don’t love them. Love is the most important part of this being here. watching who your kids hang with and spending good quality time with your kids make them who they become. just. sayin

  • Branko Pezdi

    Parents have been spanking their children for thousands of years and humanity has progressed nevertheless. But let’s not allow the facts to obscure the superior liberal mindset which by definition lacks common sense.

  • jamison jones

    There is also another parallel study from a leading and independent univerrsity that says that spanking kids when they do wrong leads to a better citizenry of people. It also concluded that it doesn’t matter whether you spank out of anger or disgust there must be a precipitating factor to warrant whippings. Most ‘succesful’ people the study researched on say that their drive, aggression, vision at whatever they do was because their guardians instilled good behavioral habits by methods that included whipping. so there you have it.

  • B

    Lol this is a JOKE! The problem with kids today is 1- No discipline for their wrongs. 2- No respect for their elders, caused from lack of punishment. 3- if your kid sits on their butt all day playing video games, how is he or she going to learn any kind of work ethic, and social skills for the real world?!
    Punish your kids kids with a good spanking, and get them outside in the real world (riding bikes, playing with other kids, etc!).

    WHNT DISAPOINTS once again…..

  • ariel

    i think the news should stop reporting these “studies”. its completly false and obviously not based off of any real people. i dont know, but ever since theyve been throwing parents in jail for touching their own children ive seen a huge increase in dissrespectful kids i dont think every child should be spanked, not all need it, but you should have the right to do it whenever it is needed. and im not saying theyre arent dissrespectful people in earlier generations but ive heard and seen kids do things ive never heard of kids doing before and i think it has alot to do with having no consequences for their actions

  • ariel

    also it up to the parents to know whats best for their kid and what kinds of punishments will work for them, no 2 kids are the same and each kid is going to react differently to things. parents should know what works with their children and no one should be able to tell them any differently.

  • jamison jones

    Ariel, in journalistic speak, its called ‘sensationalism.’ The study is not so much about any new facts but what kind of ‘rise’ it gets out of people. Look, WHNT has more talk about this subject because guess what, alot of people have kids and this is bound to interest los of people and therefore better ratings! I don’t know the rating for WHNT though

    • screw aarp

      WHNT , Is number three , in a four station market, ( source Nielsen rating) CBS affiliates a cross the nations ratings are down, affiliates have the carry CNN wire material , per CBS. theres part of WHNTs problem.

  • Jim

    What a bunch of bunk..Might as well let the kids rule the parents. Since they know best. Give them no boundaries and see what happens. That is who will be going nowhere in life and most likely to jail

  • jeff massey

    It’s called “positive-negative” reinforcement.You should never spank or whip a child when your angry. I never whipped my children in anger more than concern. the one thing that would earn a whipping from me, no questions asked, was endangering themselves or others. If you are angry, wait to punish a child. Explain to them what they did wrong and why its necessary to punish them. Explain that if they repeat the offense they will be punished again and follow through with the threat. Explain that, though you would never intentionally hurt them, you have to punish them so that they will remember to never do it again.

  • jamison jones

    Jeff Massey, i respectfully disagree. of course you have to be angry at them kids when you spank them! My parents whipped us when they were angry at us, kids for being nuisances when we were very young. See, Spontaneity is the key here! You ain’t gat time for all the explaining! Any time a kid sees the belt, they know whats coming and they’ll knock off what behavior that provoked the sight of the belt. Too bad the era of big mama and the belt is being eroded away by the likes of CPS, DHR and all kinds of child advocate agencies and thats why jails are so full and delinquent behavior so rampant.

  • Text

    Just, I have to point out that the Bible doesn’t ever, ever say. “spare the rod, spoil the child”. Please, when quoting something, find it in the source material and cite it correctly.

    The New International Version of the Bible does say this though:

    “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” Proverbs 13:24

    (There are similar passages in Proverbs 22:15 & 23:13.)

    The emphasis is always on the importance of discipline. And notice the word “careful” in the passage above? Spanking a child under the age of 12 months who does not know what is going is not what I would call careful discipline.

    Instead, with the knowledge gained from this study and studies like it, we can put another principle into practice:

    “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4.

    *hops off of soap box*

  • John

    Completely absurd! It is the bratty little kids that were not properly disciplined that are causing all of the problems. Quit being such spineless pushovers, and mind your own business.

  • Momoftwo

    As the mother of two children (18 and 13) I have yet to recognize the value of violence in discipliine. I have never felt that I had to physically hurt them to teach them. In my eyes (and just mine — not condeming or judging) discipline is akin to teaching – teaching them that actions have consequences, choices come with outcomes good and bad. I have two wonderful children who are athletes, scholars, polite, socially aware and respectful human beings. I have used a multitude of various ways to discipline, guide and teach and not one of those involves striking.

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