Physical punishment poses serious risks to a child's development, two Canadian experts warn.

In a paper published online Monday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, they concluded after two decades of research that, "virtually without exception . . . physical punishment was associated with higher levels of aggression against parents, siblings, peers and spouses."

Spanking has declined in the United States since the 1970s, but many parents still believe it's an acceptable form of punishment. A 2010 University of North Carolina study revealed that nearly 80 percent of U.S. preschool children are spanked.

The authors note that physical punishment is linked to various mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and drug and alcohol abuse. Neuroimaging studies have shown it may alter parts of the brain that are linked to performance on IQ tests and increase vulnerability to drug or alcohol dependence. -- HealthDay

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