Children who are spanked are more likely to develop sexual problems as adults, according to new research presented yesterday.
A meta-analysis of spanking studies found 93 percent agreement among studies that spanking can lead to such problems as delinquent and anti-social behavior in childhood along with aggression, criminal and anti-social behavior and spousal or child abuse as an adult.
The researchers suggested that children whose parents spanked, slapped, hit or threw objects at them may have a greater chance of physically or verbally coercing a sexual partner, engaging in risky sexual behavior or engaging in masochistic sex, including sexual arousal by spanking. The researchers warned, however, that this is not a one-to-one or causal relationship.
The study also found that 90 percent of U.S. parents spank toddlers.
After 30 years of studying corporal punishment, Murray Straus, a spanking expert, concluded, “parents should never, ever spank because, although it does work, it’s no better than non-hitting methods that don’t have harmful side effects. If there was an FDA for spanking, they’d say use an alternative that doesn’t have harmful side effects.”
This analysis appears to be the first to link spanking with sexual problems, said Elizabeth Gershoff, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, who reviewed 80 years of spanking research in 2002 in the APA’s Psychological Bulletin. However, Gershoff wanted to add that even though many parents spank their children, future problems often depend on how the children process the experience and whether they ultimately equate love with physical pain.
The data was presented on Thursday at the American Psychological Association’s Summit on Violence and Abuse in Relationships in Bethesda, Maryland.
Source: American Psychological Association