Spanking can cause mental health problems in children, study suggests

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AUSTIN, Texas — A new study suggests spanking can cause children to defy their parents more frequently and can also result in lifelong mental health issues.

The study, conducted by experts at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan, says spanking can cause permanent social and developmental problems.

The study, published in the April edition of the Journal of Family Psychology, looked at over 160,000 children over a 50-year period.

The study defines spanking as: “An open-handed hit on the behind or extremities.”

As the frequency of spanking increases, the likelihood of anti-social behavior, mental health issues, and aggression also increases, according to the results of the study.

Children who were spanked were also more likely to support physical punishment of their own children.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” study author Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, said in a news release. “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.”

According to a 2014 UNICEF report, as many as 80 percent of parents across the world admit to spanking their children.

“Spanking thus does the opposite of what parents usually want it to do,” co-author Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, said in the news release.

Researchers said there’s no evidence that shows spanking has any positive effect on a child’s behavior or development, and that outcomes from spanking can be compared to physical abuse.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

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8 comments

  • Common Cents

    I got “spanked” all the time and now I don’t listen to/trust anything my parents say. I also was almost expelled for fighting every day in grade school…this study seems accurate to me.

  • NO PC FOR ME

    Is spanking why past generations of Americans were far better than today’s youth ?
    If spanking causes mental issues, those issues include, respect, responsibility, good manors, a sense of right and wrong and an understanding of consequences.

    The study was done in Austin Texas. Austin is so far left it may as well be considered San Francisco south.
    After they destroyed Californiastan they infested Texas and Colorado.

  • NO PC FOR ME

    I need to add a few thoughts.
    First, I am anti spanking. However- it is a punishment reserved for the worst offences. Not for everyday things kids to wrong.
    I got two whooping growing up, the first when I broke all the windows in the neighbors garage for “fun” and the second time when I dropped the F bomb at my parents.

    A spanking should not be painful, it isnt the pain that teaches. it’s the realization that you as a child screwed up so bad your parents were forced to teach you the hard way.
    A child’s feeling are what should be hurt during a spanking, not their bodies.

    The old term “love tap” comes to mind.
    If you force your parents to “spank” you, you KNOW you screwed up.

    Just like a dog. never hit a dog, it doesn’t teach them anything. But a little tap or a “tweek” is enough to let the dog know you are not happy.
    Its hard to explain but its the psychological aspect of knowing that you earned a spanking and let your parents down is what teaches the kid never to repeat the same mistake.

    On a scale of 1 to 10 a spanking should be a 1. never harm a child. but without discipline the kid will grow up to be a dipsh*t.

  • Rickie Holloway

    No matter what the studies show bottom line is if as parent’s we aren’t allowed to discipline our kid’s then don’t complain when they go get it trouble children need discipline and yes there is a difference between a spanking and abuse because in my opinion time outs don’t work taking away phone’s laptop’s and video games doesn’t work grounding them doesn’t work either as far as the experts go if we can’t discipline them then don’t whine or cry about your tax dollars being used to house them in jails prisons and things of this nature