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New Zealand study suggests spanked children are not more aggressive as adults

New Zealand study suggests spanked children are not more aggressive as adults

Punishing children by spanking does not make them more aggressive or anti-social as adults, according to a New Zealand study which tracked a test group of 1,000 children over more than 30 years.
The study, which followed 1,000 children born in the city of Dunedin in 1972 and 1973, claims to refute alternative research that argues children who are physically punished are more likely to be aggressive, to suffer mental illness or to resort to substance abuse in later life.
The results of the study, which will be published in full later this year, were based on interviews over two years with participants who had reached the age of 32.
Researchers found that 80 per cent of the sample had been physically punished at home during childhood, of whom 29 percent had only ever been spanked, or smacked.
A further 45 per cent had been hit with an object such as a strap or wooden spoon, and six percent had suffered "extreme physical punishment," including punishment which left cuts, bruises or welts, "out of control" hitting or choking and sexual or physical abuse.
The lead author of the study, psychologist Jane Millichamp, said the project appeared to be the first long-term study in the world to specifically identify and monitor participants who had simply been smacked with an open hand.
Preliminary analysis showed that those subjects had "similar or even slightly better outcomes" than those who were not smacked in terms of aggression, substance abuse, adult convictions and school achievement.
"Study members in the 'smacking only' category of punishment appeared to be particularly high-functioning and achieving members of society," Millichamp said.
"I have looked at just about every study I can lay my hands on, and there are thousands, and I have not found any evidence that an occasional mild smack with an open hand on the clothed behind or the leg or hand is harmful or instills violence in kids," she said.
"I know that is not a popular thing to say, but it is certainly the case.
Millichamp said the study had found no evidence to support the "slippery slope" theory that parents who disciplined their children by mild smacking resorted later to harsher physical punishments.


Updated : 2021-05-07 21:53 GMT+08:00