Study casts doubt on the link between childhood spanking and dating violence in adulthood

PsyPost 12 June 2020
Family First Comment: Interesting new study which debunks the myth that non-abusive smacking leads to violence:
“[T]he study found that childhood physical abuse, but not spanking, was linked to adult dating violence. While spanking as a form of child discipline is condemned by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Ass’n, the literature on non-abusive spanking remains inconsistent. While some studies have linked spanking to harmful outcomes, other studies have found limited evidence for the negative effects of spanking. Study author Christopher J. Ferguson explains that this lack of consensus might have to do with whether or not past studies have properly differentiated between the effects of spanking and the effects of more serious physical abuse.“
Exactly! Not all parental correction is child abuse.

New research published in Psychiatric Quarterly provides insight into the relationship between child abuse and aggression in adulthood. Specifically, the study found that childhood physical abuse, but not spanking, was linked to adult dating violence.
While spanking as a form of child discipline is condemned by both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association, the literature on non-abusive spanking remains inconsistent. While some studies have linked spanking to harmful outcomes, other studies have found limited evidence for the negative effects of spanking.
Study author Christopher J. Ferguson explains that this lack of consensus might have to do with whether or not past studies have properly differentiated between the effects of spanking and the effects of more serious physical abuse. Ferguson was particularly interested in one study that produced perplexing results. The study by Temple and associates (2018) found that spanking, but not exposure to physical child abuse, predicted adult dating violence.
“This puzzling finding is difficult to fully explain,” Ferguson muses, “Why would children be more inclined to learn violence from less serious physical discipline than more serious, abusive physical discipline?”
Ferguson sought to replicate the 2018 study with a new sample while following similar methodology and data analysis. Ferguson’s sample included 509 young adults with an average age of 21 years old, who were either currently in a relationship or had been in a relationship within the past year. As in the Temple et. al study, subjects responded to a questionnaire that had them answer questions about their childhood experiences and about their current relationship.
READ MORE: https://www.psypost.org/2020/06/study-casts-doubt-on-the-link-between-childhood-spanking-and-dating-violence-in-adulthood-57024
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