Lifestyle & Belief

Spanking may lead to mental disorders: study


Protesters prepare to march down Lambton Quay in the CBD to Parliament during a protest march over child smacking bill on March 28, 2007 in Wellington, New Zealand. A new study suggests even mild spanking may lead to an increase risk of mental disorders.


Marty Melville

A new study suggests that those who were slapped, spanked or grabbed as children may have an increased risk of mental disorders including mood and anxiety disorders and problems with alcohol and drug abuse.

The controversial study, published in the US journal Pediatrics, suggests that between 2 and 7 percent of mental disorders might be due to punishments inflicted in childhood.

The National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions collected survey data between 2004 and 2005. The research group only included those over the age of 20. 

According to the AFP, participants were asked: "As a child how often were you ever pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped or hit by your parents or any adult living in your house?" Those who answered "sometimes" or greater were included in the analysis. 

Lisa Berlin, who studies parenting and child maltreatment at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, told Reuters that the study "adds to our existing worries about the use of physical punishment, and speaks to the value of non-physical discipline."

The New York Daily News reported that previous research has shown that children who were physically abused suffer from more mental disturbances as adults, however these studies only focused on serious abuse. 

Roya Samuels, a pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New York, told AFP that parents who use corporal punishment might also be at risk for depression and mental disorders. Samuels added, "There might be a hereditary factor going on in these families."

USA Today noted that corporal punishment has been abolished in more than 30 nations, but not in the US or Canada. 

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