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Spanking: Sometimes or Never?

Many of us grew up in a time when spanking wasn't questioned or criticized. Even when I was in highschool, our principal would discipline students with a wooden paddle, if he had a "paddle permit" from the student's parents. And most parents did sign the permit.

However, most psychologists and pediatricians now believe that parents should never strike a child. Even assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) is proposing a bill that would make it illegal to hit children younger than 4.

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In this recent Los Angeles Times article, the consequences of spanking are detailed by several professionals. Everyone is in agreement that spanking doesn't change a child's behavior, and many studies show that children who are spanked have an increased incidence of behavioral and emotional problems later in life.

Frequent and impulsive spanking is clearly detrimental, researchers agree. Other kinds of physical punishment, including hitting children with objects, are harmful as well. "Corporal punishment has really serious side effects," says Alan Kazdin, a professor of psychology at Yale University and president-elect of the American Psychological Assn. "Children who are hit become more aggressive."

There's even evidence to suggest children are developmentally impacted by spanking:

Spanking also appears to have a detrimental effect on the brain. In 1999, Straus found after a two-year study that 2- to 9-year-olds who were spanked developed less rapidly, judging from cognitive tests, than other children.

After you read the article, I'd love to know what you think.

Were you spanked as a child? Were your parents angry or impulsive about it, or measured and calm? How do you discipline your child now or how do you plan to when you become a parent?

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