“This study is just one piece of evidence – but it adds to the growing body of literature that spanking is harmful and should be discontinued,” he adds.
“Parents, legislators, and educators should be provided with this information so that we can make more informed decisions.”
This work follows on from a recent meta-analysis focusing on childhood spanking, one that caused something of a furore back in 2016. The team behind that research evaluated 75 pre-existing studies and found that for the majority of cases, spanking was linked to 13 out of 17 negative behavioral and psychological problems.
As pointed out by Scientific American, the study was lauded for focusing on just spanking, not other forms of corporal punishment. Some worry that by taking all forms into account, it exaggerates the dangers of spanking.
Although definitive cause and effect associations were considered to still be elusive by some researchers, Temple says the expansive study makes a “strong case for the detrimental effects of spanking,” despite the criticisms of the paper remaining fair.
All in all, “there is mounting evidence that corporal punishment has a negative impact on health and does not work,” he notes.
Undoubtedly, more research will be conducted on this difficult subject. This new paper is certain to reignite a sometimes acrimonious debate, but it's probable that, as time goes on, spanking will be seen as something increasingly archaic and erroneous.