Examining Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Spanking in Head Start Children
Benet, Amber J
MetadataShow full item record
Approximately 94% of young children are frequently spanked (e.g., hit on the bottom with an open hand; Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor, 2016; UNICEF, 2014). Additionally, children in poverty experience the highest rates of spanking (Giles-Sims, Straus, & Sugarman, 1995) and those children who are spanked are significantly more likely to display externalizing behavior problems and aggression. Similarly, adverse childhood experiences (e.g., parental substance use, family violence) have also been linked with negative outcomes (ACEs; Felitti et al., 1998). Relatedly, studies indicate that poor health outcomes associated with spanking suggest its separate, but detrimental influence on individuals (Afifi et al., 2017). Because of this, “being spanked as a child” has been recently been included as a separate ACE (Merrick et al., 2017). The purpose of the current study was to explore (a) the relationship between preschool-aged children’s exposure to ACEs and spanking and (b) the outcomes of spanking (i.e., externalizing behaviors), controlling for other adverse experiences, within preschool-aged children. Data were from the Head Start Impact Study (N = 2,243). Overall, although the initial model was significant (B=0.095, p< .005) with an odds ratio of 1.100, 95% CI [1.03, 1.18], ACEs did not meaningfully predict probability of being spanked as the ROC curve indicated a poor AUC fit (AUC=0.52). However, spanking significantly explained 6.5% (p < .001) additional variance above and beyond ACEs when predicting externalizing behaviors. The findings highlight the importance of examining both ACEs and spanking in preschoolers to better understand their relationship and associated outcomes for future prevention efforts.