Spanking is, at present, controversial among U.S. parents. 

Is a tap on the rump OK just to correct behavior the way your parents did? Or is spanking in any form child abuse – enough said?

A large study from BMJ Open found spanking, slapping and smacking has far-reaching consequences in countries around the world.   

The potential impact on banning spanking and child safety is the most striking find of the study, which looked at 400,000 youths in 88 countries. 

The 30 countries with full bans on corporal punishment (which apply to schools and homes) experienced 69 percent lower rates of physical fighting among adolescent males and 42 percent less for females.

Germany, Spain, Brazil, Ukraine and New Zealand are among the countries with full bans. 

Inside countries with partial bans (in schools only), females showed a 56 percent lower rate of physical fighting. There was no change among males. Partial-ban countries include the U.S., U.K. and Canada.

“All we can say, at this point, is that countries that prohibit the use of corporal punishment are less violent for children to grow up in than countries that do not,” said Frank Elgar, lead study author and associate professor of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University in Montreal.

Wealth and homicide rates don’t change the findings

For the study, researchers from Canada, the U.S. and Israel looked at the results of surveys that asked how often children ages 11 to 25 years had physically fought with others within the last 12 months.

Researchers said the association held true despite differences among wealth and violence rates between countries.

Read more of USA Today’s reporting on banning spanking here.