ANN ARBOR (WWJ) — It’s an age-old debate — should parents spank their children if they misbehave?

Experts at the University of Michigan and the University of Texas looked at 50 years of research and came to a conclusion.

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Andrew Grogan-Kaylor, a researcher from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, says it’s almost unanimous that spanking children has long-term negative effects, such as mental health problems, depression and aggression.

“Anyone who does research on children and families, or almost anybody I know who works with children and families, the results are no surprise,” Grogan-Kaylor said. “What’s surprising is kind of the unanimity of 50 years of research — it’s not inconsistent research or it’s not kind of a debate, it’s almost 100 percent consistent.”

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Grogran-Kaylor said attitudes toward physical punishment are passed from generation to generation and that parents who were spanked as kids support the punishment for their own children.

“Kids who are spanked, again, more likely when they grow up themselves support using spanking on their own children,” Grogran-Kaylor said.

The study appears in the Journal of Family Psychology.

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“Parents spank because they want to correct bad behavior that’s happening right now,” Grogran-Kaylor said. “As human beings, we often tend to be bad at seeing long-term outcomes. So what the research says is that the spanking is probably not going to correct the behavior in the short-term and it’s very likely to lead to mental health difficulties, anxious kids, aggressive kids.”