The Possible Long-Term Effects Of Spanking Are Worse Than We Thought

While you might already know that spanking a child as a form of punishment could be associated with future mental health issues, it may surprise you to learn that it could be linked to children being violent towards partners later in life.

A new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Pediatrics found that childhood corporal punishment could be correlated with future dating violence.

The study, which involved 758 19- and 20-year-olds, asked young adults about how often they experienced corporal punishment as children, whether they were spanked, or they were struck with objects.

"Kids who said they had experienced corporal punishment were more likely to have recently committed dating violence," Jeff Temple, an associate professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the study’s lead author, told CNN.

The researchers also noted that the strong correlation between spanking and relationship violence later in life were the same across the board for young people of all different genders, ethnicities, and parental education.

While Temple said that spanking doesn't necessarily cause dating violence, those who were spanked tended to be more violent towards their partners than those who weren't.

"While we can't say that spanking causes later violence, it follows that if a kid learns that physical punishment is a way to solve conflict, he/she may carry that over into conflicts with later intimate partners," he told U.S. News & World Report.

Perhaps most significantly, he added to The Cut, "Regardless of whether someone experienced child abuse or not, spanking alone was predictive of dating violence."

While a 2016 study found that spanking has become less and less common, corporal punishment is still a huge issue of debate amongst parents in the U.S. For what it's worth, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend spanking, instead advocating for other forms of discipline — such as withholding privileges, instituting a time-out, or creating logical consequences.

"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 told The Cut. "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."

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