Children who are spanked or given some form of physical punishment by their parents may be more likely to have sexual problems as adults, a new study finds.
An analysis of four studies by Murray Straus, co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire-Durham, found that children who suffer physical punishment in the form of spanking, hitting or slapping are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior as adults, it is reported by USA Today.
The study, presented Thursday to the American Psychological Association, suggests that spanked children also are more likely to be "physically or verbally coercing" to a sexual partner and engage in masochistic sex, including arousal by spanking, later in life.
Elizabeth Gershoff, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, who reviewed 80 years of spanking research in 2002 in the APA's Psychological Bulletin, said Straus' work appears to be the first to link spanking to sexual problems, USA Today reported.
Gershoff said that even though many children are spanked by their parents, future problems often depend on how the children process the experience and whether they ultimately equate love with physical pain.