A study recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics makes some interesting, yet unsurprising, connections between spanking and development. The study looked at the correlation between childhood corporal punishment and future dating violence. The findings show that children who were spanked were more likely to perpetuate violence against future dating partners.

Spanking continues to be a hot-button issue for parents. Despite evidence that corporal punishment is ineffective and can even lead to long-term adverse side-effects, 65% of American parents still approve of spanking as a disciplinary tool.

This new study aims to shed light on some of those adverse side-effects. Researchers gathered data from 758 young adults (average age of 20 years) in the longitudinal study who were recruited as 9th and 10th graders. They were asked about their experiences with corporal punishment and physical abuse in childhood, as well as their experiences with dating violence. The study was controlled to account for age, sex, child abuse, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity.

Even with the controls in place, 19% of participants reported perpetuating dating violence. 68% reported experiencing corporal punishment as children. While the study doesn’t show an exact causation, there is a clear link between spanking and future dating violence.

Despite the acceptance of spanking as an effective tool among the majority of parents, experts continue to issue warnings. Spanking is associated with increased aggression, behavioral issues, and mental health issues in children. Emily Rothman, Associate Professor at Boston University, told CNN, “The experience of having someone direct aggression to you increases the likelihood that you’ll fall back on aggression when in a flight or fight moment. Having been hit by the parent can elevate stress and reduces a child’s coping skills, so they may lash out.”

This new study sheds important light on how spanking affects our kids in the long run. It’s not effective, it’s not beneficial, and it can cause lasting harm. There are better ways to discipline your kids that don’t involve violence.

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