Is it ever OK to hit a child?
Is it ever OK to hit a child?

Smacked kids ‘become violent adults’

A NEW study has found people who were smacked as children might be more likely to become abusive in their relationships later in life.

Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) found that 68 per cent of adults surveyed who were smacked in childhood were more likely to be physically aggressive towards their partners as adults.

UTMB's senior author Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch said kids who had experienced corporal punishment were more likely to have "recently committed dating violence".

"While parents may think this form of physical punishment is a good lesson, substantial research indicates that it does way more harm than good," he said.

"The current study adds to this knowledge by showing that being physically punished as a child is linked to perpetrating dating violence as a teen and young adult.

"While we can't say that spanking causes later violence, it follows that if a kid learns that physical punishment is a way to solve conflict, he or she may carry that over into conflicts with later intimate partners."

Around 700 people were studied for the research, with 68 per cent reporting physical punishment in childhood, and 19 per cent admitting to committing dating violence.

According to the UTMB, while around 80 per cent of children are punished physically worldwide, there is clear evidence it does more harm than good.

"Although mounting evidence shows the many detrimental effects of corporal punishment, many parents, much of the general public, and even some schools continue thinking this is an acceptable means to punish misbehaviour," 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 behaviour.

"Not only is this an ineffective strategy for changing behaviour or resolving conflict, our study and other research show that physical punishment negatively impacts the short and long-term health and behaviour of children."

The study backs up a raft of previous research linking spanking with long-term damage.

Last year, a study from the University of Texas and the University of Michigan found that smacking lead to mental health problems, lower cognitive ability and a risk of accepting physical abuse as a norm later in life, while earlier this year a 50-year study of 160,000 children proved the more children are smacked, the more aggressive and anti-social they become.

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