Does Spanking Increase a Child’s Odds of Committing Abuse?

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A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics on Tuesday found that people who were spanked as children are more likely to commit dating-violence later on.

For the study, researchers asked 758 19- and 20-year-olds about their experiences with corporal punishment and dating violence, and found a strong correlation between the two. Researchers also noted that these results were the same regardless of a subject’s age, sex, ethnicity, parental education, and experience with childhood abuse, which they defined as “being hit with a belt or board, left with bruises that were noticeable or going to the doctor or hospital.”

“Regardless of whether someone experienced child abuse or not, spanking alone was predictive of dating violence,” said Jeff Temple, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the study’s lead author.

Spanking children is a controversial practice in the United States. While many experts warn that repeated spankings could lead to aggression later in life, cumulative data gathered by the University of Chicago between 1973 and 2016 found that 73.6 percent of Americans strongly agree or agree that it is sometimes necessary to spank your children.

“There’s a tendency for adults who have been spanked to say ‘I turned out just fine.’ So they continue the behavior with their children,” Temple said, adding:

“There’s zero evidence that it enhances children’s development, and there is a whole bunch of evidence that it has negative outcomes. Our goal is not to turn out fine. Our goal is to turn out healthier and happier than previous generations.”

In lieu of spanking, experts from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggest that other disciplinary actions, like time-outs and revoking a child’s privileges, are more effective in the long run.

Does Spanking Increase a Child’s Odds of Committing Abuse?