Is the use of corporal punishment against 3-year old children associated with future aggressiveness among them? This question brings about a controversial topic on whether it is ok to spank children because of the underlining negative effects it could have on child's behavior in the future. Many parents when disciplining their children use corporal punishment (CP), which includes spanking or slapping, to teach their children lessons, imprint values, and improve current or future behavior. Whether this form of discipline creates future aggressive behavior is the question The American Academy of Pediatrics asks as they conduct a study to see the effects CP has on 3-year old's future development of aggressive behavior. During this experiment, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that their goal is to be able to answer whether there is a link between a mother's use of corporal punishment on a 3 year old and the risk for that child to become more aggressive at age 5, even with the control of the child's initial level of aggression at age 3 and other important maternal parenting risk factors and demographic features (Taylor, Manganello, Lee, & Rice, 2010). Before the study is conducted, The American Association of Pediatrics creates a single hypothesis that states that dozens of studies have shown a significant statistical link between the use of CP with children and child aggression (Taylor, Manganello, Lee, & Rice, 2010). This includes studies that also controlled the child's initial aggression level. This proposed explanation creates the basis of what they already know on this subject and helps to build on this idea by adding other important maternal parenting risk factors and demographic features.
To conduct this study, they choose a sample from the Fragile Families and Wellbeing study (FFCWS). They then ran 2 interviews, one at the child's age of 3 and the other when the child reached age 5. The mothers were questioned from the 19 items from the Child Behavior Checklist version for age 3. This asked certain questions such as if their children at age 3 were defiant, disobedient, easily frustrated, screams a lot, hits others or gets in reoccurring fights, or had irritable tempers. This was measured to determine whether if the aggressive behavior stemmed directly from CP or other factors. At age 5 the children were assessed from the 12 items from the Child Behavior Checklist that included behaviors such as bulling or meanness to others, destructiveness of things belonging to family members or others, arguing a lot, and threats to others. This type of study incorporated more than one study design. The first study design that it incorporates is observational study this study is where conclusions, are drawn from a sample, in this case the Fragile Families and Wellbeing study, to a population where the independent variable is not under the control of the researcher because of ethical concerns or logistical constraints. This is used to keep the study ethical by observing rather than assigning manipulation. Another study design that was used was survey study. This design is used to gather information from large groups in order to have more accurate results. The manipulation of this study design is used in the way the study is conducted through questionnaires of the parents of the children at ages 3 and 5. The next study design that was implemented was longitudinal study. This type of study is conducted over a long period of time to see the development of an issue over a timespan. This design had to be used to measure the behavior between the ages from 3 to 5. The last study design that was used was retrospective study. This is where past behavior/data is viewed to study past vs. present. This is implemented by comparing the child's past behavior at age 3 with their future behavior at age 5. In order to conduct this study 2 groups must be involved, the experimental group and the control group. The experimental group is these studies were the children who did not receive corporal punishment and the control group were the children who received corporal punishment. It also must also include a independent or predictor variable and a dependent or outcome variable. The independent or predictor variable is the variable that is being manipulated to see its effect on the dependent variable or outcome variable. So therefore in this study corporal punishment is the independent variable and subsequent aggressive behavior in 3-year old's is the dependent or outcome variable. All 3 of these design studies contribute to the accuracy and correlation between variables.
Through this study we see that even with the control of the child's initial level of aggression at age 3 and the preceding potential confounding factors and key demographic features, Frequent use of corporal punishment, where the mother's use of spanking was more than twice in the previous month, is directly associated with increased subsequent aggressive behavior when the child reaches age 5(Taylor, Manganello, Lee, & Rice, 2010). From the results of this study we can also see the findings support a social learning approach to understanding the cycle of violence. This is where the child learns to be aggressive by being treated undeviatingly with aggression. From this study and its results, we can conclude that regardless of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation to not use corporal punishment, many parents will continue to use this form of discipline contrary to the behavioral effects children may face. It is even shown that minor forms of CP can increase risk of subsequent aggressive behavior. By using this modern information, we can single handedly stop the increase of violence in our future generation. Also, Mothers and future mothers can take this information in to account for when they raise their children and the methods of discipline they will choose in order to correctly imprint lessons and values without the risks of potentially negatively effecting the behavior of their child to be aggressive. The American Academy of pediatrics recommends the use of other effective and less risky discipline strategies instead of the use of CP.
While conducting this study the researchers did however encounter confounds and limitations to their data. These include the studies focus only on the mother's use of CP and not fathers or other caregivers and the design type that was choose for this study that relies on the honesty of the mother's self-report. Although this design type creates limitations to the study, it is what makes this study ethical. By using observational studies instead of experimental studies is what makes this study ethical and able to be performed and approved by the IRB. This is because unlike in experimental studies where you would have to manipulate and spank the child that could potentially harm the child and create long term effects to receive data, observational studies are used to observe behavior without manipulation. This study is also ethical because it follows the IRB regulation and laws by having the approval of the parents since children are considered to be in the sensitive group where extra protection is needed since the children are cognitively unable to give consent. Also, the information received from the mothers are self-reports, so they are voluntary and free from coercion. The American Academy of Pediatrics precisely conducts this study which is why so many people have cited this article and journal publisher the past couple of years with an impact factor of 5.515, which is the highest impact factor of the other 124 pediatric journals in the 2018 Citation Report.
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