Spanking can pose long-term harms to children, 5-decade analysis suggests

- As many as 80 percent of parents worldwide spank their children, according to a 2014 UNICEF report. But a meta-analysis of five decades of research published Wednesday in the Journal of Family Psychology suggests the disciplinary action can pose serious, long-term harm to children.

The research, which reviewed 160,000 children overall, linked repeated spanking to an increased risk of a child being defiant to his or her parents, anti-social, aggressive, mentally ill, and cognitively challenged.

Researchers who conducted the study, from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan, said their meta-analysis is the most comprehensive on spanking to date.

"Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors," study author Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin, said in a news release. "We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes, and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents' intended outcomes when they discipline their children."


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