Study Links Spanking of Kids to Adult Mental Disorders
Children who are spanked, hit, or pushed as a means of discipline may be at an increased risk of mental problems in adulthood — from mood and anxiety disorders to drug and alcohol abuse, new research suggests.
Although it is well established that physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and other severe forms of maltreatment in childhood are associated with mental illness, this is one of the first studies to show a link between non-abusive physical punishment and several different types of mental disorders, says epidemiologist Tracie Afifi, lead author of the study in today’s Pediatrics.
“There is a significant link between the two,” says Afifi, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Canada. “Individuals who are physically punished have an increased likelihood of having mental health disorders.” Approximately 2% to 7% of mental disorders in the study were linked to physical punishment, she says.
The study’s findings add evidence to the argument that “physical punishment should not be used on any child, at any age,” she says.
Parents’ right to use physical punishment has been abolished in more than 30 nations, but not in the USA or Canada, says the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment, endorsed by the United Nations and others