New research has found that corporal punishment, or spanking behavior, may increase the risk of physical abuse in children.
Conducted by a team of experts at the University of Michigan, their findings in Child Abuse & Neglect began by examining data from 56 low and middle-income countries.
The data consisted of over 150,000 children between the ages of 1 and 4, with the sample ranging from 109 in the Caribbean to around 13,000 children from Africa.
“Nearly one third of children under five in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) experience spanking. Studies from North America suggest that spanking is associated with heightened risk of physical abuse. However, the link between spanking and physical abuse in the international context remains understudied,” the study reads.
“We used nationally representative data from 156,166 1- to 4-year-old children in 56 LMICs from the fourth and fifth rounds of UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys.”
The study concluded that spanking was associated with a higher risk of physical abuse.
“The predicted probability of physical abuse decreased by 14% comparing children who were spanked (22%) and who were not spanked (8%),” the study’s authors determined.
“When our estimates were translated to a hypothetical sample of 100 children using a natural frequency approach, 32 children were spanked; of those, seven experienced physical abuse.”