Researchers in the US have linked relationship violence with children who are smacked by their parents.
Senior author Dr Jeff Temple of the University of Texas Medical Branch said while many parents believed smacking was a good physical punishment, “substantial research” indicated more harm than good was achieved.
“The current study adds to this knowledge by showing that being physical punished as a child is linked to perpetrating dating violence as a teen and young adult," he said.
“While we can’t say that spanking causes later violence, it follows that if a kid learns that physical punishment is a way to solve conflict, he or she may carry that over into conflicts with later intimate partners."
For the study, UTMB researchers interviewed over 700 young adults in their late teens and early 20s about their childhood experiences with physical abuse, as well as their current experiences with dating violence.
About 19 per cent of participants reported having perpetrated some sort of dating violence, with about 69 per cent experiencing physical punishment as children.
“Common sense and scientific research both tell us that children learn from their parents,” Temple said.
“Parents are a child’s first look at relationships and how conflicts are handled. Corporal punishment is communicating to children that violence is an acceptable means of changing behavior.
“Not only is this an ineffective strategy for changing behavior or resolving conflict, our study and other research show that physical punishment negatively impacts the short and long-term health and behavior of children."
Worldwide and cross-culturally estimates indicate that about 80 per cent of children are physically punished.
Research, though, has found links between corporal punishment and childhood aggression and mental health problems, among other issues.
If you would like to know more about support services available for family and domestic violence contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT.