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April 29, 2016

Study: Spanking children doesn't improve behavior, leads to troubling outcomes

The topic of spanking as a form of child rearing is highly controversial, and it's been going on for generations. 

While it can range from a tap on the bottom for bad behavior to a full on belt beating , critics and proponents typically hold strong stances on their personal opinions on whether or not to spank your children.

But now there's new scientific facts to help settle the debate and shine some light on the effects – or lack thereof.

According to a new analysis of more than 50 years of studies on spanking, conducted by University of Texas-Austin professor Elizabeth Gershoff and University of Michigan professor Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, spanking doesn't appear to alter children's behavior for the better.

"We turned out okay in spite of being spanked, not because of it," study researcher Elizabeth Gershoff.

There's "no evidence that spanking is associated with improved child behavior," a report by Vox on the new analysis, first published in Journal of Family Psychology, reads.

Rather the research findings suggest that spanking may be associated with troubling outcomes "like increased aggression, increased anti-social behavior, and mental health problems later in life."

In an interview with Vox, Gershoff said her response to people who say they were spanked as children and turned out fine is this:

"We know now that children need to be in car seats and seat belts. But those of us who grew up in the 1970s were in cars that didn't even have seat belts. Do I think my parents were bad parents for not putting me in a seat belt? No, because no one understood how important seat belts were to protecting children. Do I think I "turned out okay" because I wasn’t in a seat belt? No — I think I was lucky. It's the same with spanking.We turned out okay in spite of being spanked, not because of it."

Read the full Vox article and interview here.

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