Speak to most parents and you’ll find that they’ll say that, in certain situations, spanking your child is completely acceptable.

Outright rudeness or disrespect, anti-social behaviour, or violence toward other children are often cited as cases where a hiding is justified.

The problem is that there is mounting evidence that spanking is bad for your child. And not ‘cry-in-their-room-for-ten-minutes’ bad. We’re talking long-term psychological harm.

A new meta-analysis of child spanking studies published in the Journal of Family Psychology show a significant correlation between spanking your child and detrimental child outcomes. According to the analysis “thirteen of 17 mean effect sizes were significantly different from zero and all indicated a link between spanking and increased risk for detrimental child outcomes.”

So rather than the age-old wisdom that spanking results in increased respect and self-discipline, the evidence seems to point toward a negative effect on a child’s psyche.

That’s not to say that you should be letting your child run feral. Instead focus on setting boundaries and enforcing them with other disciplinary measures. This approach may be more difficult than the threat of a short, sharp klap, but it looks like you’ll be doing your kid a favour in the long run.