Study Links Spanking to Mental Disorders

A new study highlights the dangers of disciplining children with spanking and other forms of physical punishment, stating that it could lead to mental disorders later on in life.

The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and highlights what some parents already know that prolonged cases of physical punishment may lead to depression anxiety or substance abuse.

Researchers used data from more than 34,000 adults and found that those individuals that claimed to have been continually spanked had a significantly higher risk of developing mental health problems a adults.

The study stated that corporal punishment is directly linked to the development of mood disorders, including depression and anxiety, as well as personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse.

Researchers also speculate that as many as seven percent of adult mental illness may be caused by physical punishment experienced during childhood, this includes; slapping, shoving, grabbing, and hitting.

The study also showed that spanking increases the chance of developing major depression by 41 percent, whole it was showed to increase alcohol and drug abuse by 59 percent.

"We're not talking about just a tap on the bum … we were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children." Tracie Afifi, of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg and author of the study, said in a statement.

The study did not include analysis of individuals who reported other forms of mistreatment such as; physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect or emotional neglect.

"It definitely points to the direction that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age," said Afifi.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has previously come out and advocated against spanking young children, but some research has shown that between 70 and 90 percent of mothers have used spanking as a punishment at some point during the child's life.

"It is important for pediatricians and other healthcare providers who work with children and parents to be aware of the link between physical punishment and mental disorders," Afifi said.

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