"Almost all the studies point to negative effects of spanking," Gershoff said. "It makes kids more aggressive, more likely to be delinquent and to have mental health problems. The more kids are spanked, the more they are likely to be physically abused by their parents. This does not mean everyone who spanks physically abuses, but that risk is there."
Because children tend to mimic parental behaviors, it's possible spanking "creates a model for using aggression," Gershoff said. "Spanking is just hitting."
Less is known why spanking could inhibit cognitive development. One possibility is that parents who spank are less likely to use reasoning with their children, something that's good for development, Gershoff said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on strategies of disciplining children without spanking.
Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.