A study from the University of Texas Medical Branch reports that children who were spanked while growing up are more likely to become physically aggressive with romantic partners later in life.
The researchers focused their analysis on 758 young adults who were 19 and 20 years old. All of the participants had been part of an ongoing case study for several years.
For the evaluation, the experts had to determine what was considered corporal punishment and what was considered child abuse. The experts defined child abuse as being hit with either a belt or a board, or having injuries that were noticeable or had to be treated by the doctor.
The individuals were asked to report on how often they were slapped, spanked, or struck with an object as punishment when they were children. The participants were also asked about their own tendencies toward violent behavior.
Overall, 68 percent of the subjects reported receiving corporal punishment during childhood.
The study revealed that enduring this type of discipline increased the likelihood that individuals would be violent with their future partners. One in five of the young adults who had experienced corporal punishment admitted to recent violence against their intimate partners.
Regardless of the extent of physical punishment, spanking alone was found to be enough to increase the chance of aggressive behavior later in life.
Study lead author Jeff Temple told CNN, “There’s a tendency for adults who have been spanked to say ‘I turned out just fine,’ so they continue the behavior with their children.”
Temple argued that, “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.”
The study is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.