By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - It is a question that has been studied quite often over the years. Are children who are spanked when they misbehave more likely to be anxious or more aggressive than children who are not?
The study that has meant the most to me comes from a Duke researcher. He looked at six different cultures that had quite different ways of disciplining children. In all cases, children disciplined by physical means, like spanking, were more aggressive. But in countries where the use of physical discipline was more common, being physically disciplined more frequently was not related as strongly to aggression and anxiety as it was in countries where physical discipline was less frequently used.
The study had looked at cultures from Thailand to Kenya and they had no findings as to whether being physically disciplined more frequently causes an increase in aggression and anxiety, or whether children who are already aggressive and anxious are simply physically disciplined more often.
One thing agreed upon by the vast majority of researchers is that discipline is very important and it should be consistent but there are many means other than physical discipline that work quite well.