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Study: Spanking your children can lead to eventual dating violence

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A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics reports that parents who opt to spank their children could be causing them to engage in eventual dating violence in the future.

What were the results of the study?

According to CNN, the report — which was released on Tuesday and conducted by University of Texas associate professor Jeff Temple — examined 758 people between 19 and 20 years of age.

The study found that those who were physically disciplined as youngsters committed dating violence at a higher rate than those who were not physically disciplined as children.

"One of the advantages of our study was to control for child abuse, which we defined as being hit with a belt or board, left with bruises that were noticeable or going to the doctor or hospital," Temple explained.

"Regardless of whether someone experienced child abuse or not, spanking alone was predictive of dating violence," he said.

CNN reported that the study discovered children who were physically punished were 29 percent more likely to engage in dating violence.

Temple did not expound on a definition of "dating violence."

"There’s a tendency for adults who have been spanked to say 'I turned out just fine,'" Temple said, and noted that those adults continue the cycle of physical discipline in their own children.

He said that there is "zero evidence" that physical discipline "enhances children’s development," and added that there is a "whole bunch of evidence" that physical discipline results in negative outcomes.

"Our goal is not to turn out fine," Temple added. "Our goal is to turn out healthier and happier than previous generations."

Any benefits to spanking?

Other researchers have found evidence that corporal punishment can be beneficial, however.

Oklahoma State University Professor Robert Larzelere has found that it’s good to spank children so long as parents make it clear that the punishment is “motivated by love and concern for their well-being.”

“I think that like any disciplinary tactic, its effect is in the context of how it’s used,” Larzelere said. “Research is strongest for the use of spanking between the ages of 2 and 6, when milder types of correction have failed.”

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