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Nov. 22, 2013 — No matter where they live in the world, university students who were spanked as children are more likely to engage in criminal behavior, according to new research by Murray Straus, co-director of University of New Hampshire Family Research Lab. Even young adults whose parents were generally loving and helpful as they were growing up showed higher rates of criminal behavior.
Straus will present the research results, "Crime by University Students in 15 Nations: Links to Spanking and Positive Parenting at Age 10 by Father, Mother, And Both Parents," today at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Atlanta.
"The results show that spanking is associated with an increase in subsequent misbehavior, which is the opposite of what almost everyone believes. These results are consistent with a large number of high quality peer-reviewed studies," Straus said.
The 15 countries are Hong Kong, Taiwan, Belgium, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Israel, Canada, and the United States. Straus took into account the influence of such factors as parental education, misbehavior as a child, loving and positive approach to correcting misbehavior, student gender, student age, and nation. One of the most interesting findings was related to the effect of parents who took a loving and positive approach but who also spanked their children.
"So many parents and child psychologists believe that if spanking is done by loving and helpful parents, it has no harmful effect," Straus said. "This study and only one other study I know of that empirically investigated this belief found that it is not true. Spanking seems to be associated with an increased probability of subsequent child behavior problems regardless of culture and, regardless of whether it done by loving and helpful parents."
"Children need lots guidance and correction, but not by being physically attacked under the euphemism of 'spanking,' " Straus said.
No matter where they live in the world, university students who were spanked as children are more likely to engage in criminal behavior,