In a 2012 survey, seventy percent of Americans agreed that “it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a good, hard spanking” . But spanking children may have undesired results.
Adults sometimes hit their children to punish bad behavior, and while it might appear to be effective in the short-term, there is evidence to suggest that corporal punishment is not effective in the long-term and that it produces negative consequences for not only your child’s physical and emotional well-being but might actually make their behavior worse.
The Negative Effects of Spanking Children
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Michigan have found that kids who are spanked more often are more likely to defy their parents and experience an increase in anti-social behavior. They are also at an increased risk for developing aggression, mental health problems, and cognitive difficulties .
The study, which was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, analyzed fifty years of research that included over 160 thousand children.
“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin .
She and her colleagues found that spanking children was not only associated with detrimental outcomes, but it was largely ineffective at changing a child’s behavior, both in the immediate situation and in the future.
Gershoff and co-author Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work, defined spanking as an open-handed on the behind or the extremities. They studied the effects among adults who were spanked as children and determined that they experienced more mental health problems, and were more likely to spank their own children .
Children who frequently receive spankings learn to associate violence with power and getting one’s own way, which is why they may become more aggressive as they get older. This might make them more likely to bully other children, and could even lead them to be more abusive in relationships when they become adults .
These behavior changes may not be immediately apparent, however.
Spanking Vs. Physical Abuse
There is some disagreement among parents and experts alike as to what constitutes spanking, and what is considered physical abuse. What Gershoff has determined, however, that both forms of punishment are associated with the same outcomes.
“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” she says. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.” 
The CDC has also released a report discussing the consequences of child physical abuse and neglect, which argues that social norms that accept or allow indifference to violence need to be changed in order to prevent child abuse. Societal norms regarding how parents should discipline their children are of particular importance here .