Spanking Can Hurt Future Mental Health

Kids should never face corporal punishment: researcher

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 2, 2012 5:17 AM CDT

(Newser) – Your adult woes really could be mom and dad's fault, assuming they spanked you. A new study points to a "significant link" between corporal punishment of children and a higher risk of adult mental health issues. In a review of government data on 35,000 adults, the study found that 2% to 7% of mental disorders, ranging from anxiety problems to alcohol abuse, were associated with such punishment, USA Today reports. A researcher puts it bluntly: Data affirms that "physical punishment should not be used on any child, at any age."

But other experts question the validity of the study's conclusions. "It does nothing to move beyond correlations to figure out what is actually causing the mental health problem," says a psychologist, who also pans the study's reliance on adults' childhood memories. "Certainly, overly severe physical punishment is going to have adverse effects on children," he notes. "But for younger kids, if spanking is used in the most appropriate way" and is seen by children as "motivated by concern for their behavior and welfare, then I don't think it has a detrimental effect." USA Today notes that 30 countries have banned corporal punishment; the US obviously isn't one of them.

Spanking kids has been linked to adult mental issues.
Spanking kids has been linked to adult mental issues.   (Shutterstock)
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