A new analysis of 50 years of research on spanking suggests the practice poses more potential harms than benefits to children, researchers said this week.
The study, a collaboration between the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan, concluded that the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to do things like defy their parents, experience increased anti-social behavior, be aggressive, and experience mental health problems.
Researchers looked at five decades of research involving more than 160,000 children. It is believe to be the most complete analysis of spanking conducted so far. "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," said Associate Professor Elizabeth Gershoff.
“The upshot of the study is that spanking increases the likelihood of a wide variety of undesired outcomes for children. Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” added Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, the study's co-author.
Despite the study's results, plenty of parents remain pro-spanking. Debate over the subject has increased in recent years, with advocates suggesting it's common sense parenting, not child abuse.