Spanking Associated with Physical Abuse

August 25, 2008

Parents who self-report frequently spanking children and spanking children with an object also report other punishments that are consistent with physical abuse, according to an article released online Aug. 20 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

MONDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who self-report frequently spanking children and spanking children with an object also report other punishments that are consistent with physical abuse, according to an article released online Aug. 20 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Adam J. Zolotor, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues examined the self-reported association between spanking, spanking frequency, or spanking with an object and the odds of physical abuse in a representative sample of mothers from North and South Carolina. Physical abuse was assessed using an index of self-reported harsh physical punishment consistent with physical abuse.

The investigators found that mothers who self-report spanking are 2.7 times more likely to report abuse. Increased frequency of spanking within the last year and spanking with an object significantly increased the odds of self-reporting abuse (odds ratios 1.03 and 8.9, respectively), the report indicates.

"Although reported spanking increases the odds of reported physical abuse, the relationship between the reported hitting of a child with an object and reported abuse is much stronger," the authors conclude. "Reduction in this form of discipline through media, educational and legislative efforts may reduce child physical abuse. "

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