Children who are spanked are more likely to develop anti-social behavior, defy their parents, and suffer from mental illnesses later in life, according to a new study.
A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Family Psychology looked at 50 years of research in the field.
“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” said Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.
“We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”
The researchers found that spanking was associated with negative life-outcomes in 13 out of 17 categories just as strongly as child-abuse.
“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” Gershoff said. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”
Still, despite these associations, spanking is used by as much as 80 percent of parents around the world.
Children who were spanked as kids were more likely to spank their own children, the analysis found.
The researchers are adamantly opposed to spanking, and hope that their study will discourage parents from spanking their children.
A report released by the Center for Disease Control has called for a public engagement campaign to educate people to not inflict corporeal punishment on their children.