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Study Finds That Spanking Leads to Increased Bad Behavior

Posted April 25, 1996

— April 26, 1996 - 4:09 a.m. EDT

Violence in society could be reduced if parents gave up spanking, according to a study released at a University of North Carolina conference on child discipline.

Spanking has the opposite of its intended purpose and often leads to increased misbehavior, according to researchers Murray Straus of the University of New Hampshire and David Sugarman of Texas Christian University.

``When you correct bad behavior with violence, you encourage more violence,'' Straus said.

The study was released Thursday at a conference sponsored by the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine and Injury Prevention Research Center.

Straus has several theories as to why spanking may lead to more violence.

Children who are spanked often will behave only when there is a threat of being struck, leading to a less-developed conscience, he said. When the parent is not around, the child is apt to misbehave.

Also, spanking teaches children it's OK to hit people to resolve conflict, Straus contended.

``We're telling them that if something goes wrong, lash out,'' he said.

Ultimately, spanking leads to less-developed methods of working out problems, Straus said.


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