50-Year Study Reveals Spanking Your Kids Just Makes Them Worse
Science| | By Lauren Boudreau
It seems the long-held belief that violence only creates violence may be true, at least when it comes to your children. In a new study from the University of Texas at Austin, kids are more likely to act out when you offer corporal punishment instead of non-violent punishment.
The new study, called “Spanking and Child Outcomes: Old Controversies and New Meta-Analyses” and published in the Journal of Family Psychology, narrowed in on just one form of corporal punishment, spanking, so the data wouldn’t be skewed by people who would perhaps go a little on the extreme side of corporal punishment, i.e. abuse.
The research team took 50 years worth of controlled observations, about 160,927 unique children, and organized the cases into 111 “instances.”
78 of them revealed a “detrimental outcome,” while only one showed improvement.
There were a variety of negative effects that came from the punishment. The study saw “aggressive and antisocial behavior, externalizing behavior problems, and ‘low moral internalization’—inability to learn right from wrong,” according to Vice.
However, the researchers aren’t quick to claim that spanking is the definite cause of negative behavior. They said that spanking has an association with negative outcomes, not that it’s the direct cause.
To be clear, studies like this have been done before.
A 2013 study found that university students who had been spanked as children were more likely to engage in criminal behavior as adults. However, that study focused on the immediate ramifications of striking your kids as opposed to long-term effects.
But you might want to think twice now before giving little Johnny the belt.