The study asked teens how old they were when their last spanking occurred, and how often they would get spanked as a child. That was cross-referenced against the data on bad outcomes we might fear spanking could lead to years later: antisocial behavior, early sexual activity, physical violence, and depression.
But Gunnoe went farther. She also looked at many good outcomes we might want for our teens, such as academic rank, volunteer work, college aspirations, hope for the future, and confidence in their ability to earn a living when they grow up. Studies of corporal punishment almost never look at good outcomes, but Gunnoe wanted to really tease out the differences in these kids.
What she discovered was another shocker: those who’d been spanked just when they were young ─ ages 2 to 6 ─ were doing a little better as teenagers than those who’d never been spanked. On almost every measure.