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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. The majority of U. Prospective analyses examined whether spanking by the child's mother, father, or mother's current partner when the child was 1-year-old was associated with household CPS involvement between age 1 and age 5. Given the undesirable consequences of spanking children and a lack of empirical evidence to suggest positive effects of physical punishment, professionals who work with families should counsel parents not to spank infants and toddlers.
For optimal benefits, efforts to educate parents regarding alternative forms of discipline should begin during the child's first year of life. In part because of the adverse associations of spanking with children's developmental outcomes, professional organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Association of Social Workers have issued statements urging parents to avoid the use find spanking partners physical discipline, and the American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidelines for effective discipline that include alternatives to spanking.
Attitudes supporting the use of physical punishment are reflected in parental behavior. Whereas the of children ages 9 or older who have experienced physical discipline has declined substantially sincethere has been a much smaller decrease in the of children ages 2—4 who have been spanked or slapped in the past year Straus, The widespread prevalence of physical discipline of children age 3 and younger suggests that for most U. That is, according to most states' definitions of child maltreatment, spanking even a very young child is not considered to be child abuse unless a physical mark e.
However, few studies have examined whether spanking is associated with subsequent Child Protective Services CPS involvement or child maltreatment.
Prior studies have looked at the predictors of spanking infants e. In addition, an evaluation by Chaffin et al. These imply that spanking is associated with CPS involvement, but do not indicate why this may be the case. Family coercion theory suggests that spanking that begins early in 's life may be particularly problematic because coercive parenting behaviors often escalate over time in response to children's real or perceived misbehavior Patterson, Such escalating behaviors may heighten the risk that abuse will occur.
Yet, we are aware of no prior longitudinal studies that employ a community-based sample to prospectively examine the link between parental spanking of infants and household risk of CPS involvement. This study examined the hypothesis that parental spanking of 1-year-old children is related to a higher risk of subsequent household CPS involvement. Prospective logistic regression analyses of 2, mothers who participated in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study FFCWSa longitudinal, population-based study, were used to examine whether any instance of spanking in the prior month, when the index child was approximately 1-year of age, was associated with household CPS involvement at any point between the age 1 interview and the age 5 interview.
Models controlled for potential confounds that have been linked to both higher levels of physical punishment and risk for CPS involvement, such as maternal race or ethnicity Drake et al. Data were drawn from FFCWS, a longitudinal birth cohort study of urban families comprised of a substantial over-sample of non-marital births relative to marital births. Verbal and written informed consent were obtained from participants at each interview.
Reichman et al. We used maternal self-report for all variables in this study, with data from the baseline, age 1, and age 5 interviews. Data on spanking and family characteristics were from the baseline interview at index children's birth and when children were 1-year of age. Data on CPS involvement came from the In-Home Longitudinal Study of Pre-School Aged Children, a supplemental interview that collected additional information on child development when find spanking partners were age 5. For those who indicated having had CPS involvement, a subsequent question asked the month and year of the most recent CPS contact.
We used this variable to ensure find spanking partners temporal ordering of spanking and CPS involvement, i. Major depression was indicated by feelings of depression or anhedonia experienced for most of the day, every day, for at least 2 weeks. Participants were classified as likely to have major depression if they endorsed the screening items and 3 or more depressive symptoms e.
The household income variable represented the total amount of income received by all individuals in the mother's household in the preceding year. Table 1 presents sample characteristics and bivariate analyses to assess between group differences by household CPS involvement status. All regression models ed for two key aspects of the FFCWS sampling de: parental marital status at the time of the index child's find spanking partners and the city of the child's birth.
Specifically, the models controlled for marital status at the time of the birth and the standard errors were adjusted for inter-cluster correlation among families residing in the same city at the time of the birth. We then developed a real world example to translate the predicted probabilities into more easily understood natural frequencies applied to a hypothetical sample of families Gigerenzer, Note : All logistic regression models were adjusted for two important aspects of the FFCWS sampling de: city of the baseline core interview and parental marital status at birth.
CPS involved families had higher rates of spanking. CPS involved families had higher levels of maternal depression, lower levels of household income, and lower levels of maternal educational attainment than non-CPS involved families. The logistic regression model provided an estimate of the association of each independent variable with CPS involvement.
However, odds ratios cannot be directly interpreted as statements about probabilities Viera, To gain a clearer picture of the relationship of our key independent variable of interest, parental spanking, with subsequent involvement in the child welfare system, we calculated predicted probabilities see Fig. indicated that in absolute terms, there was 2. This change in the probability of involvement with CPS can be interpreted in relative terms. Spanking at age 1 is associated with increased probability of subsequent CPS involvement. We use an idea inspired by the work of Gigerenzer to better understand predicted probabilities.
For ease of comprehension, Gigerenzer suggested translating about probabilities into frequencies applied to a hypothetical sample of people. Following this logic, we applied the of our analysis to a hypothetical sample of 1, families. Of find spanking partners30 What would happen if we were to intervene and eliminate use of spanking in these families? Our original calculation indicated that a total of 83 families would become involved with the child welfare system. By eliminating spanking at age 1, 76 children would be CPS involved, or 7.
Thus, in our hypothetical sample of 1, families, the elimination of spanking translates to change of. This finding assumes that our estimate represents the true causal effect of spanking on CPS involvement. To the extent that this estimate is upwardly biased e.
There is growing consonance in the research literature demonstrating that physical punishment of children is associated with problematic outcomes such as child behavior problems and poorer mental and physical health Afifi et al. As such, many find spanking partners in favor of spanking are increasingly being called into question by empirical evidence. Yet, behaviors of most parents in the United States do not reflect the current evidence, and spanking of young children is common Taylor, Manganello, et al. Whereas both attitudes in support of physical punishment of older children and frequency of spanking older children have declined over the past several decades, there has been little change in either attitudes toward or frequency of spanking of infants and toddlers age 3 and younger McCormick, Although prior studies have shown that parental spanking has adverse consequences for child wellbeing, few studies have examined the consequences of spanking of 1-year-olds for exceptions see studies by Bugental et al.
To our knowledge, this is the first study using prospective analysis of a community-based sample of families to show that, even after ing for numerous household and parenting risk factors such as maternal depression, spanking of 1-year-old children is associated with increased risk for household CPS involvement. When viewed in absolute terms, the elevation of risk found in this study might be construed as small.
When events are rare, a small absolute change in the probability of an outcome may constitute a large relative change. A more accurate perspective on the relationship of parental spanking with later family CPS involvement may thus be obtained by contemplating the relative change in the probability of involvement with CPS. Assuming our regression estimates represent the causal effect of spanking on CPS involvement a somewhat weighty assumptioneliminating spanking at age 1 could reduce CPS involvement by seven families in a hypothetical sample of 1, families; in other words, an 8.
This finding is particularly ificant when viewed in light of the alarmingly high rates of child maltreatment in the United States. In2. Department of Health and Human Services, Research shows that infants and toddlers experience the highest rates of maltreatment victimization U. Department of Health and Human Services, ; Wu et al.
At a minimum, family involvement with CPS indicates that social welfare agencies have serious concerns about both family functioning and the safety of one or more children in the household, and CPS involvement represents a substantial increase in undesirable outcomes find spanking partners young children, regardless of whether maltreatment claims of abuse are substantiated Hussey et al.
Intervention to reduce or eliminate spanking, particularly of young children, has the potential to contribute to the wellbeing of families and children who are at-risk of becoming involved with this system. Given that the child welfare system is notoriously overburdened and underfunded, when multiplied at the population level, an 8. The key finding of this study — that spanking at age one is associated with greater risk of household CPS involvement — is consistent with evidence from clinical samples Beauchaine et al.
For example, an intervention with physically abusive parents showed that reducing spanking and other coercive parenting behaviors was associated with lowered risk for recurrence of physical child abuse Chaffin et al. Together, these findings suggest that spanking in general, and particularly the use of physical discipline with infants and toddlers, is a potential risk factor for maltreatment.
The of this study can be viewed in the context of family coercion theory Patterson, In other words, spanking has the iatrogenic effect of exacerbating the very behavioral problems, such as child aggression e. Spanking a 1-year-old as a form of discipline may be particularly misguided from the perspective of young children's cognitive abilities to understand and consistently respond to parental directives, and there is no empirical evidence to suggest that spanking at any age increases child compliance with parental directives Gershoff, Given that the primary difference between spanking and physical find spanking partners is one of severity e.
In this paper, we focused on estimating the full association of spanking with CPS involvement. We did not attempt to explain or parse out potential mediators mechanisms through which spanking influences CPS involvement.
To the extent that spanking is not causally related to CPS involvement, or if we were interested in estimating the potential efficacy of compensatory interventions intended to reduce CPS involvement among children who are spanked, then it would be crucial to understand the mechanisms linking spanking and CPS involvement, and to estimate the proportion of the full association between spanking and CPS involvement that is related to specific mechanisms. Our analyses are silent in this regard.
One important find spanking partners to stem the tide of child abuse is to address the parenting practices that increase the risk that maltreatment or abuse will occur. The of this study suggest that spanking infants 1-year-olds is one parenting practice worthy of preventive intervention efforts. There are numerous potential points at which practitioners who work with families can education parents about discipline. Perinatal well-baby clinical visits and home visitation following the birth of are important opportunities for pediatricians, nurses, and social workers to screen for parental use of physical discipline.
It is important to educate professionals find spanking partners come into contact with new parents regarding research showing that spanking is harmful to children and to encourage communication of this information to parents. There is promising evidence that parent education can be integrated into the systems of care that families routinely receive.
Even among parents who are at high risk for e. A potential limitation of this study is that, similar to some prior research that also used large representative samples of families e. Use of self-report to measure CPS involvement may introduce underreporting due to self-presentational biases, which would bias our estimates toward zero, making them conservative or lower-bound estimates of the actual association between spanking at age 1 and CPS involvement. It is also possible that respondents underreported both spanking and CPS involvement, which would also bias the association between these variables toward zero.
As a result we may be underestimating the effect of early spanking on later CPS involvement, and caution must be exercised in generalizing the study findings. As is the case with any study, it is important in future research to replicate the findings, ideally, using CPS administrative data. This limitation must be viewed in light of study strengths. We isolate the timing of our key variables allowing for prospective analysis of the link between spanking and CPS involvement. Furthermore, the majority of prior studies of spanking examine spanking by mothers only.
Failure to include fathers or father figures is problematic because those studies that have examined mothers and fathers tly show that, even though fathers find spanking partners less time caring for young children than do mothers, fathers have high rates of physical punishment of young children that are nearly comparable to mothers Lee, Altschul, et al. Implications of this study extend to efforts to promote the wellbeing of children and prevent child maltreatment.
Prior find spanking partners indicates that spanking increases adverse developmental outcomes such as child aggressive behavior. Findings from the current study indicate that spanking young children may also increase the likelihood that a family will face a CPS investigation. As a result, mothers and fathers of infants and toddlers are in need of information about age appropriate expectations of child behavior, as well as information about appropriate use of discipline, beginning in hospitals at the child's birth and at well-baby visits during the first year.
Educational efforts, such as the Connected Kids initiative American Academy of Pediatrics,should continue to promote non-aggressive child discipline techniques and reinforce the negative consequences of spanking. To prevent maltreatment and more generally nonproductive or harmful parenting behaviors, parenting programs targeting parents at-risk or already involved with CPS should take an assertive stance against spanking, regardless of the child's age.
Professional organizations that are concerned with the prevention of child abuse and neglect, such as the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, should follow the lead of the American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of Social Workers as well as other leading professional organizations, and urge parents to avoid use of spanking, given the negative consequences of using spanking and no empirical evidence to suggest any positive or neutral effects of physical discipline.
Conflicts of interest : The authors report no potential conflicts of interest, including relevant financial interests, activities, relationships, and affiliations. National Center for Biotechnology InformationU. Child Abuse Negl. Author manuscript; available in PMC May 1. Shawna J. Berger b. Lawrence M. Author information Copyright and information Disclaimer. Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Child Abuse Negl. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article.
Abstract The majority of U. Method Participants Data were drawn from FFCWS, a longitudinal birth cohort study of urban families comprised of a substantial over-sample of non-marital births relative to marital births.Find spanking partners
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