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Parental Spanking of 1-Year-Old Children and Subsequent Child Protective Services Involvement

NCJ Number
Child Abuse and Neglect Volume: 38 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2014 Pages: 875-883
Shawna J. Lee; Andrew Grogan-Kaylor; Lawrence M. Berger
Date Published
May 2014
9 pages
Based on a longitudinal study of 2,788 U.S. parents with new births in urban areas, this study 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 involvement with child protective services (CPS) during the child's development from 1 to 8 years old.
The study determined that at 1 year old, 30 percent of the sample had been spanked at least once in the past month. The study also found that being spanked at age 1 was associated with increased odds of subsequent CPS involvement. Compared to non-spanked children, there was a 33-percent greater probability of subsequent CPS involvement. This study confirms previous research that has shown physical punishment of children is associated with problematic outcomes, including child problem behaviors and poorer mental and physical health. Although the spanking of older children has declined in the United States over the past several decades, there has been little change in either the attitudes toward or frequency of spanking infants and toddlers ages 3 and younger (McCormick, 1992). To the authors' knowledge, this current study is the first to use prospective analysis of a community-based sample of families to show that even after accounting for numerous household and parenting risk factors, the spanking of 1-year-old children is associated with the increased risk for a household's subsequent involvement with CPS. Data were obtained from the Fragile Families and Child Well-being Study (FFCWS), a longitudinal, population-based study. Maternal self-report was used 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 and when children were 1 year old. 2 tables, 1 figure, and 54 references