If you got spanked as a child, it made your behaviour worse rather than better. According to experts at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan, the more kids get spanked, the more likely they are to “defy their parents and to experience increased anti-social behavior, aggression, mental health problems and cognitive difficulties.”
The study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology and analyzed five decades of spanking research. This represents 160,000 children according to the aforementioned article by the University of Texas.
Spanking was defined as “an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities.” Researcher Elizabeth Gershoff and her co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor discovered that the more the children were spanked, they were more likely to develop a range of negative outcomes in their adult life such as mental health issues.
“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,” Gershoff said.
They also said that if they were spanked as children, they were “more likely to support physical punishment for their own children.”
Gershoff and Grogan-Kaylor said that both phsyical abuse and spanking were associated with the same harmful outcomes, “We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors… Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”
“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,” Gershoff said.