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Is Spanking Harmful?

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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 9," says Dr. Michael MacKenzie.

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% of parents by age five were spanking their children and that was only looking at spanking in the past month," says Dr. MacKenzie.

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."

Most pediatricians agree there are better ways to discipline.

"Discussing the bad behavior, positive reinforcement, limited use of time outs can be good," says Dr. Dyan Hes.

Wendy is trying a reward system with marbles.

"I need a whole new set of methods."

Doctors also suggest parents take a time out themselves to think of the most effective punishment before spanking.

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