50-year study finds there are no benefits to spanking children

(AP Photo/Don Brinn)

AUSTIN, TX (WCMH) — A study that spanned nearly 50 years has found that spanking is only harmful to children and has no beneficial outcomes.

According to experts at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan, who studied 50 years’ worth of data involving more than 160,000 children, the more kids are spanked the more likely they are to suffer from anti-social behaviors, aggression and mental health problems.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, says that spankings (defined as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities) led to a detrimental outcome in the 13 of the 17 outcomes examined.

“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,” said study co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

The study also found that people who were spanked as children, were more likely to support spanking their own children, which passed the practice from generation to generation.

“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 co-author Elizabeth Gershoff an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

Spanking led to the same detrimental outcomes in children as physical abuse in about the same amount of strength, according to the study.

“We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline,” said Gershoff.

This story was originally published by WCMH, a Nexstar contributing station.

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