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To Spank or Not to Spank: Researchers Evaluate Children

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Think the best way to discipline your child is with a spanking? Think again. Spanking can do more harm than good, according to new research findings reported by CNN.com. A new study of 2,500 toddlers from low-income families found that spanking may have detrimental effects on children's behavior and mental development.

The study, conducted at Duke University, found that 1-year-old children who were spanked tended to be more aggressive at age 2 and did not perform as well as other children on tests measuring thinking skills by age 3.

"We're talking about infants and toddlers...I just don't think they understand enough about right and wrong to benefit from being spanked," said Lisa Berlin, research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University to CNN.

The study is just the latest evidence supporting the long standing argument by child psychologists and educators that spanking, particularly before the age of 2, can be damaging to children and lead to more disruptive behavior. The study also found that African-American children were spanked significantly more than White or Mexican- American children.

What to do instead of spanking? Experts advise that parents will get better results by controlling the child's environment rather than by trying to control the child. If a small child is pulling things off the shelf or throwing things on the floor, move the child away from the objects instead of hitting her. Or better yet, give the child something soft to throw. For very young children, pick the child up and remove him/her from the situation.--Jeannine Amber

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