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Why spanking now could lead to relationship violence later in life

Today's Parent logo Today's Parent 2017-12-08 Liz Krieger
Little boy crying © Used with permission of / © Rogers Media Inc. 2017. Little boy crying

While spanking has held on as a discipline technique in some families, recent research has been showing it could have unintended consequences down the road. The latest study suggests that kids who are spanked are more likely to be violent toward their partners in the future.

The study, which was released this week in the journal Pediatrics and conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch, asked 758 young men and women who were 19 and 20 years old to recall how often they were hit as a form of punishment when they were kids. The ones who reported the most physical punishment were more likely to have recently committed dating violence—even when researchers controlled for things like age, sex, ethnicity, parental education and whether or not there was child abuse in the home. 

   5 things you might not know about spanking (including whether it’s ever OK)

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly opposes corporal punishmentfor children. While some parents feel that the “spare the rod, spoil the child” tactic is highly effective for discipline (and it may have been how they were raised), partner violence is but one side-effect in a growing body of research that finds many negative consequences from slapping, hitting or spanking a child.

Bob Sege, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, says “Corporal punishment confuses the boundaries between love and violence for children while they are learning how to treat others.” For children, “their parents are the most important people in the world,” explains Sege, and “they learn from them what are social norms and how people should behave toward each other.” Recent reports have found, however, that a vast majority—about 70 percent—of Americans still believe in spanking.

Interested in finding some new effective discipline techniques? Check out these six discipline fallbacks and how to fix them.

Read more:

Yes, I judge parents who spank their kids

Is yelling at your kids as bad as spanking?

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