Parents who hit their children hoping to improve their children’s behavior are likely doing more harm than good. A new study found that spanking doesn’t bring positive results and could have real harm to a child’s life.
The Lancet published the study after researchers compiled data from 69 previous studies across several countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Switzerland, and Turkey.
The study focused on spanking rather than more sever punishment such as the use of a belt or slap to the face.
The studies were longitudinal, meaning the same group subjects were tracked over time. Researchers say they found seven patterns in future behavior for children who were spanked. Among them is that “physical punishment is not associated with positive outcomes over time.”
Spanking is also associated with an increased risk of intervention from child protective services.
Author Elizabeth Gershoff said physical punishment led to “increased aggression, increased antisocial behavior, and increased disruptive behavior in school.”
The authors concluded by urging policy changes to curb spanking as a disciplinary tool.
“Physical punishment is increasingly viewed as a form of violence that harms children,” the study reads. “The consistency of these findings indicates that physical punishment is harmful to children and that policy remedies are warranted.”