Spanking Your Children Could Alter Their Future, Study Suggests

Sophie Miura

Parenting is deeply personal, and few topics are more divisive than how to discipline a child. If you’re part of the 81% of Americans who believe “spanking their child is sometimes appropriate,” a new study might change your mind.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan set out to discover how spanking affects a child later in life. As reported by Mic, the study was very comprehensive—experts pulled over 50 years’ worth of data representing about 160,000 children.

The results were startling. Researchers found the more people were spanked as children, the higher their chances of developing a broad range of negative outcomes as an adult, including mental health issues.

That’s not all. Lead authors Elizabeth Gershoff and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor say their findings mirror those of children who have been physically abused. Both yielded similarly harmful outcomes, the two revealed in a news release.

The upshot? A majority of U.S. preschoolers have experienced spanking, yet new research suggests it does the opposite of what parents want it to do. “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 says.

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