A recent narrative review has confirmed that the physical punishment of children (commonly known as 'spanking') is not effective in preventing child behavior issues, nor is it effective in promoting positive outcomes. Further, the review published in The Lancet found that physical punishment can increase behavior problems and poor outcomes over time.

The international team conducting the review included a researcher from The University of Texas at Austin. It found that caregivers across the globe use physical punishment to deal with children's misbehavior. In children between the ages of 2 and4, about 250 million children (63%) are consistently punished with physical punishment from their caregivers.

Sixty-two countries have banned physical punishment, however, and the team looked at studies that involved physical punishment like spanking but excluded behaviors that constituted child abuse. The

Caregivers in many parts of the world use physical punishment as a response to children's perceived misbehavior: 63% of children between the ages of 2 and 4 worldwide -- approximately 250 million children -- are regularly subjected to physical punishment by caregivers.

Sixty-two countries have banned the practice, as it is seen as a form of violence.

A United Nations statement recommended countries end the use of ALL types of physical punishment on children.

Dr. Elizabeth Gershoff is with the Amy Johnson McLaughlin Centennial Professor in Human Development and Family Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin and is the senior author of the paper. Dr. Gershoff said that there is no evidence physical punishment is good for children but instead there IS evidence that indicates it is harmful to their well-being and deveolpment.

Most studies they looked at were from the United States. They found physical punishment was not associated with positive outcomes and increased risk that children could experience violence or neglect. THey also found that negative outcomes for children increased more frequently as physical punishment was used.

Dr. Gershoff said that parents hit their children thinking it will improve their behavior but instead, it makes it worse.

The research team hopes their review will serve as a resource for policy makers and people who work with families.
In the U.S., it is legal in all 50 states for parents to use physical punishment. It is also legal in 19 states for schools to use physical punishment against children.

Dr. Anja Heilmann is a lead author of the paper and an associate professor at the University College London. Dr. Heilmann said that the issue of physical punishment is one of public health and policy makers have a responsibility to protect children and legislate the end of it (physical punishment) in all settings.