ANN ARBOR—Some people may believe that if you live in a community with different cultural values, spanking might not be harmful—an assumption that does not appear to be correct, according to a new University of Michigan study.

In the first longitudinal examination of the effects of spanking among the Native American population, U-M researchers say that spanking is just as harmful for them as it is for black and white children. They say it can lead to greater externalizing behavior (e.g., being defiant, hitting others, throwing temper tantrums).

The findings appear in the recent issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Research has increasingly recommended that parents avoid spanking, concluding that the harms of physical punishment outweigh the benefits. When race and ethnicity are factored into studies, most of the research focuses on whites and African Americans, but not Native Americans.

“Contrary to the idea that spanking may be ‘normal,’ and therefore not harmful in some groups, these results demonstrate that spanking is similarly associated with detrimental outcomes among white, black and American Indian children in the United States,” said the study’s lead author Kaitlin Ward, U-M doctoral student in social work and developmental psychology.

Read the full article at Michigan News.