Back in the day, it was pretty common to spank a misbehaving child as a form of discipline. Sometimes, it was the only thing that worked to get them back on track and quit whatever they were doing!But now, we know better.

Science says that spanking can inflict long-term negative effects. A recent study published in The Lancet found that spanking kids can actually worsen their behavior, and really physically hurt them.

In the study, researchers looked at a group of 69 previous studies from a variety of countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, China, Colombia, Greece, Japan, Switzerland, and Turkey. While some results showed a mix of negative and positive outcomes of spanking, most found there to be a negative impact.

After collecting the data, researchers have come to the conclusion that spanking can increase behavior problems over time, including causing increased aggression, antisocial behavior and disruptive behavior. They also concluded that spanking is NOT linked to positive outcomes over time, and that spanking can make it more likely that child protective services could get involved.

“Physical punishment is increasingly viewed as a form of violence that harms children,” the study read. “The consistency of these findings indicates that physical punishment is harmful to children and that policy remedies are warranted.”

This is certainly not the first time we’ve heard this before. In 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that spanking kids can cause aggression, brain changes, substance abuse and suicidal behavior in adulthood.

Unfortunately, even still, to this day, spanking is still pretty common. A 2017 UNICEF study found that 250 million children (around 6 in 10) worldwide are victims of physical punishment.

The good news is more and more parents are beginning to abide by punishments akin to the above and trying to avoid spanking. A 2020 study published in JAMA Network showed a decrease in spanking from 50% in 1993 down to 35% in 2017.

The American Academy of Pediatric says that non-physical punishment can work just as well as results of spanking can, and not cause harm later on in life. Instead of spanking, they suggest the following ideas for punishment:

  • Doing timeouts
  • Setting firm limits and establishing consequences,
  • Taking away favorite toys
  • Reducing screen time

Have you or do you know anyone who uses spanking as a form of punishment on their kids? Have you ever been spanked before when you were young? How do you think it affected you later in life?