Parents who smack their children have been urged to ‘reconsider’ their form of discipline, after a scientific study found that these kids are more likely to have mental health issues and anti-social behaviour problems later in life.


The aim of the study was to explore the long-lasting impact of smacking on a child’s mental health and development, and the alarming results were published in the Journal of Family Psychology.


A team of researchers at both the University of Texas and the University of Michigan studied 50 years’ worth of research, containing the data of over 160,000 children, as part of the study.


In it, the team found that the smacking of children by their parents led to the following outcomes in adulthood:

  • Increased aggression
  • Increased anti-social behaviour
  • More externalising of problems
  • More internalising of problems
  • More mental health problems
  • More negative relationships with parents
  • Lower moral internalisation
  • Lower cognitive ability
  • Lower self-esteem



A warning message was included in the study report notes, urging parents to think of the long-term, negative ramifications of smacking their children.


“Parents who use spanking, practitioners who recommend it, and policy-makers who allow it might reconsider doing so, given that there is no evidence that spanking does any good for children, and all evidence points to the risk of it doing harm,” the report read.


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