Children Who Were Spanked More Likely to Be Violent Partners: Study

Children who were spanked are more likely to be violent toward their future dating partners, according to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston (UTMB).

"While parents may think this form of physical punishment is a good lesson, substantial research indicates that it does way more harm than good," Dr. Jeff Temple, a professor at UTMB and the senior author of the study said.

The study, that was published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found that physical punishment for a child may not directly cause violence later in life, however, there is a strong connection. 

Temple said while it's not a cause, "it follows that if a kid learns that physical punishment is a way to solve a conflict" and may be more likely to use violence to solve conflicts with the people they date in the future. 

Researchers questioned more than 700 participants in their late teens and early 20s. They asked them about their childhood experiences, physical abuse and their current experiences with dating violence. 

About 69 percent of the participants said they had experienced corporal punished as children and nearly 19 percent said they had perpetrated some dating violence when they were older. 

"Analysis of the study results showed a significant positive association between corporal punishment and physical dating violence perpetration, even after controlling for several demographic variables and childhood physical abuse," the study's authors reported.

Temple said many factors can contribute to dating violence, like mental health, attitudes toward women, beliefs about violence, problem-solving skills, availability to weapons and substance use. However, the researcher believes that corporal punished should be considered a potential risk factor within romantic relationships. 

"Common sense and scientific research both tell us that children learn from their parents," Temple said. "Parents are a child’s first look at relationships and how conflicts are handled. Corporal punishment is communicating to children that violence is an acceptable means of changing behavior."

According to UTMB researchers, about 80 percent of children are physically punished worldwide. 

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