With those results, why wouldn't we all start occasionally spanking our kids? Well, there's evidence to suggest that spanking begets spanking, or worse. The same 2012 study that found that light spanking was OK also reported that parents who lightly and infrequently spanked were 50 percent more likely to spank more harshly and frequently the following year. And a study published in 2008 reported that when moms began spanking more often, they were also more likely to become physically abusive -- suggesting that spanking might be a kind of gateway drug to more horrible things. So, yes, spanking may well be safe. Until it's not.
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Melinda Wenner Moyer is a science writer living in Brooklyn, N.Y.