Researchers from the University of Texas, University of Missouri and other institutions recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, to determine whether childhood punishment can be linked to dating violence.
To do so, they interviewed 700 participants in southeast Texas, who were in their late teens and early 20s. Scientists asked subjects questions about the type of punishment they received as children and whether they had experienced violence in their romantic relationships as adults.
Overall, about 19 percent said they had committed some form of dating violence and 69 percent said they were physically punished during childhood.
After examining the data closer, they found people who got spanked as kids had a 29 percent higher risk for perpetrating dating violence. This was the case after researchers factored in age, gender, parent’s education and any history of child physical abuse.
“While parents may think this form of physical punishment is a good lesson, substantial research indicates that it does way more harm than good,” lead researcher Jeff Temple in a statement. “While we can’t say that spanking causes later violence, it follows that if a kid learns that physical punishment is a way to solve conflict, he or she may carry that over into conflicts with later intimate partners."
The researchers noted that other components can contribute to violence in dating, such as mental health, substance abuse and availability to weapons. However, they believe physical punishment among kids should also be considered.
“Common sense and scientific research both tell us that children learn from their parents,” Temple said. “Parents are a child’s first look at relationships and how conflicts are handled. Corporal punishment is communicating to children that violence is an acceptable means of changing behavior.”