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New Study on Spanking Children: Will It Affect Timesharing Decisions?

New research suggests that the more children get spanked, the more likely they are to defy their parents and experience anti-social, aggressive behavior, as well as mental health problems and cognitive difficulties. Given that this is now published as science, could this end up having an effect on what a court views as abusive behavior towards children by one parent?

The Study & Results: Spanking and Physical Abuse Result in Similar Outcomes

The study analyzed 160,000 children and only looked at spanking, explicitly avoiding the possibility of conflating spanking with other behaviors that could be seen as abusive. What they found was not good: the data showed a direct relationship between adults who were spanked as children and the likelihood of developing some serious negative outcomes later in life, such as mental health issues. Spanking also evidently helps to create adults who go on to physically punish their own children.

And it gets worse: In comparing the negative effects of spanking with those of other physical abuse against children, the study indicated that they both essentially resulted in the same negative outcomes.

Spanking Is Still Widespread

Overall, surveys of Americans have indicated that they support spanking sometimes as a form of discipline: specifically, around 80 percent of preschoolers have reported being spanked in surveys, with 50 percent of eight and nine-year-olds reporting being hit with actual objects, such as a paddle.

Child Custody Cases

With corporal punishment still technically legal in all 50 states, courts have historically upheld a parent’s right to spank. But could this study—and possibly others to come—start to change that?

The law in Florida states that “corporal discipline of a child by a parent or legal custodian for disciplinary purposes does not in itself constitute abuse when it does not result in harm to the child,” where harm not only covers physical injury, but also emotional and mental injury. However, this latest study indicates that it does harm the child, even if later on in life.

In fact, parents have, in some instances, lost custody of their children due to spanking and it can be used against a parent in a custody case. Obviously, this becomes more of an issue when one parent is spanking the child and the other parent objects to that as a form of discipline. But this latest study could have far-reaching implications for custody cases, which have typically looked for excessively harsh corporal discipline in deciding whether to adjust a custody situation. Now that all forms of spanking cause emotional and mental injury, could it lead to broad implications for child custody in moving forward?

Contact Us for Assistance

If you suspect that your child is being emotionally abused by the other parent due to corporal discipline, contacting an experienced attorney to discuss what your rights are and how this could affect your case is of the utmost importance.

We represent both mothers and fathers in child custody and related issues for clients in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, and Boca Raton. Contact us at the office of Sandra Bonfiglio today so we can get started helping you.

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