A new study published Tuesday in the Journal of Pediatrics found that spanked children are more likely to commit dating violence later in life.
Researchers in the study, lead-authored by Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch, asked 758 young adults how often they were physically punished with spankings, slappings or beatings involving objects.
Of those, 68% reported receiving such punishment while 19% reported acting violently within a dating relationship.
"Kids who said they had experienced corporal punishment were more likely to have recently committed dating violence," Temple told CNN.
That finding didn't waver regardless of a person's sex, age, ethnicity and status.
Whether a person experienced child abuse didn't matter, either. Spankings and other forms of physical punishment remained "associated significantly with physical dating violence perpetration," the study found.
The study adds to a mountain of evidence showing the negative effects of spanking, a practice still strongly embraced in the United States. Data accumulated between 1973 and 2016 by the University of Chicago shows 73.6% of Americans agree that children sometimes need "a good, hard spanking."
Elsewhere in the world, attitudes differ: Fifty-three countries have outlawed all forms of physical punishment, even in the home. That's according to Global Initiative, a group that advocates for such policies.
Many factors besides spanking can add to dating violence, the university noted, including mental health, substance abuse and attitudes toward women. Still, the study's authors emphasize corporal punishment a possible risk factor for such violence.
"Corporal punishment is communicating to children that violence is an acceptable means of changing behavior," Temple said.
"Not only is this an ineffective strategy for changing behavior or resolving conflict, our study and other research show that physical punishment negatively impacts the short and long-term health and behavior of children."
The American Academy of Pediatrics advocates for alternatives to spanking such as taking away privileges, time-outs and letting natural consequences unfold.
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