Countries that ban the smacking of children appear to be safer for young people to grow up in, according to research revealing that fighting between youths – particularly females – is less common where corporal punishment has been outlawed.
Experts say the study adds to a growing body of evidence that punishing children by smacking, slapping or spanking them can lead to later harm. The research has led to renewed calls for policymakers to ban such practices in both schools and the home.
“The association with academic problems and mental health problems and so on among those kids that have this experience in early life, that is pretty well established,” said Dr Frank Elgar, co-author of the research from McGill University in Canada. “Our question was about policy.”
However, researchers say it is not clear whether bans on smacking themselves drive better behaviour, or if smacking and youth violence were already rarer in countries that have adopted the policy.