However, some 90 percent of U.S. parents spank toddlers, according to Straus.
The review being presented at the meeting are the first to look at the relationship of spanking to sexual behavior.
They found that spanking and other corporal punishment is associated with an increased probability of verbally and physically coercing a dating partner to have sex; risky sex such as premarital sex without using a condom; and masochistic sex such as spanking during sex.
There is a "dose response" at work here. "The more parents spank, the higher the probability of harmful side effects," Straus noted.
Of course, there's a similar dose response for smokers. But if someone reaches the age of 65 without developing lung cancer, it doesn't mean that smoking isn't harmful. It means the person was one of the lucky ones.
It's the same with spanking, Straus said. "If a person says, 'I was spanked, and I don't have any interest in bondage and discipline sex, that's correct, but it's not because spanking is OK, it's because they're one of the lucky ones."
And spanking a child once may be like picking up that first cigarette. "The trouble is, if you have a 2-year-old, you pretty soon decide you can't avoid it. The recidivism rate for whatever 'crime' you correct a 2-year-old for is about 50 percent in two hours."
"I've been researching corporal punishment for 30 years and, in the course of that time, the evidence has accumulated that it doesn't work any better than non-corporal punishment but has harmful side effects. I have come to the conclusion that parents should never, ever spank because, although it does work, it's no better than non-hitting methods that don't have harmful side effects. If there was an FDA for spanking, they'd say use an alternative that doesn't have harmful side effects."
All rights reserved