The study's authors said they specifically tried to make a distinction between children who were disciplined with spankings and children who were physically abused.
They said they ruled out children who were abused, but still found that those who were spanked were more likely to be violent in their relationships later in life.
"This study confirms and extends previous research that says children who experience violence at home, even if it is couched as for their own good, end up using violence later in their lives," said Dr. Bob Sege, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatricians who specializes in the prevention of childhood violence. Dr. Sege was not involved in the new research.
Boston University Associate Professor Emily Rothman, an expert in partner violence, agreed: "The experience of having someone direct aggression to you increases the likelihood that you'll fall back on aggression when in a flight or fight moment. Having been hit by the parent can elevate stress and reduces a child's coping skills, so they may lash out."
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