The study claims that children who are punished by spanking are more likely to turn violent towards their partners, later on in life.
The University of Texas Medical Branch surveyed nearly 800 adults to understand whether being struck as a kid can lead to a more aggressive manner in behavior as a grown up.
The study found that most adults who behave violently in relationships were struck by their parents as youngsters.
While spanking is not entirely attributable to this behavior, it does provide new light on the fact that if a kid learns that the only solution to a conflict is by way of physical violence, they are likely to carry that forward into conflicts that may occur later on in life with their partners.
Researchers for the study asked 19- and 20- year-olds how often they had been struck, slapped, or spanked only to find a strong correlation between corporal punishment and dating violence.
Of the 758 that were questioned, nearly 68% claimed to have experienced corporal punishment as youngsters and around 19% admitted to violence towards their lovers.
The study’s lead author, Jeff Temple, a psychiatry professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch notes “Regardless of whether someone experienced child abuse or not, spanking alone was predictive of dating violence.”
Speaking to CNN, he stresses the necessity to determine what they considered punishment and what they considered abuse.
Temple defined child abuse as being hit with a belt, leaving noticeable bruises or requiring to go to a doctor or a hospital.
“Kids who said they had experienced corporal punishment were more likely to have recently committed dating violence.”
Researchers also noted that these results were the same regardless of a subject’s age, sex, ethnicity, parental education, and experience with childhood abuse.
While many factors such as mental health or substance abuse can cause dating violence, children subjected to physical violence must be considered as a factor among many other things.
The practice of hitting a child has been forbidden in several countries across the world such as France, Sweden, and Scotland.
In the United Kingdom, there are stringent guidelines that deem it unlawful for a parent to hit their kids, except when such circumstances amount to a reasonable punishment.
Reasonable punishment is not valid in cases ‘amounting to wounding, actual bodily harm, grievous bodily harm or child cruelty.’
Child abuse is more common than many people care to believe. In the United States each year more than 3 million reports of child abuse are made which involve almost 6 million children.
It is legal, in all 50 states in the US, to hit a child, but they all differ widely when it comes to what form of punishment is precisely allowed.
Temple is one of the many pediatricians fighting against the American culture for corporal punishment.
He says adults have a tendency to claim they turned out just fine after having been struck as a youngster.
He added to that saying: “There’s zero evidence that it enhances children’s development, and there is a whole bunch of evidence that it has negative outcomes. Our goal is not to turn out fine. Our goal is to turn out healthier and happier than previous generations.”
While parents may believe physical punishments serve as a good lesson to kids, it does more harm than good. It is the duty of a parent to make sure their child behaves but getting frustrated and resorting to such measures can do no good. Instead, parents should be suggested other forms of disciplinary actions like withholding privileges or calling time-outs.
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “There is clear evidence that physical punishment damages children’s wellbeing and is linked to poorer outcomes in childhood and adulthood.
“We would encourage parents to use alternative methods to teach their children the difference between right and wrong, with a positive parenting approach such as setting clear and consistent boundaries.”
The proverb “Spare the rod, spoil the child” is something of ancient times. Now such acts are punishable by law.