Estimates show white children under age 2 who were spanked five times in a week had a 4.2-times greater risk of behavior problems that required a parent-teacher meeting four years later when compared to children who were not spanked. However, the link between spanking and behavior problems in black and Hispanic children was not significant or consistent in the study.
Researchers have several possible explanations for the difference between ethnic groups. Among them, spanking is thought to be accepted as the norm in black families, which could mean black children and parents are relatively less likely to perceive spanking as harsh or unfair. In white communities, where spanking is used less frequently and is thought to be more stigmatizing, frequent spanking before age 2 could be associated with other factors that indicate a greater developmental risk, such as high parent stress.
AdvertisementPrevious studies show significant behavior problems early in a child's school career is a risk factor for school failure, the need for special educational services, mental health problems, and other adverse outcomes.