Spanking May Raise Mental Health Risk

NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – Disciplining children with physical punishment such as spanking, shoving or slapping may raise their risk for developing mental health problems when they get older, new research suggests. “We should not be using physical punishment on children of any age,” Dr. Tracie O. Afifi, the new study’s author and assistant professor of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada.

For the study, Canadian researchers looked at data from a U.S. survey of nearly 35,000 adults that was collected between 2004 and 2005. They determined about 6 percent of adults experienced harsh physical punishment in the absence of more severe forms of child maltreatment including physical, sexual or emotional abuse and neglect. Types of harsh physical punishment included spanking, slapping, hitting, shoving, grabbing and pushing.

The researchers found harsh physical punishment increased a person’s odds for having a mood or anxiety disorder, engaging in alcohol or drug abuse and risk for several types of personality disorders. They determined that between two and seven percent of mental health disorders among study participants were attributed to physical punishment.

“We’re not talking about just a tap on the bum,” Afifi said. “We were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children.”

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