Spanking or hitting a child linked with mental illness later on

A new study conducted by the Canadian researchers revealed that children who were spanked, smacked, slapped or hit by their parents or adults are likely to develop mental illnesses in the form of depression, anxiety and other personality disorders during the later part of their lives. This study was conducted by the lead researcher of the study and a leading epidemiologist Dr. Tracie O. Afifi who is an assistant professor in the department of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba – Canada.

The study team used the data collected by the United States census interviewers in 2004 and 2005 in surveys of more than 600 US adults. The study results were published in the US journal Pediatrics depicting that children who were spanked or hit were more likely to develop serious mental disorders during their adulthood in some form or the other but the study does not include the more severe forms of abuse.

It is estimated that more than half of the children may be spanked as a punishment that included harsher punishments like hitting and shoving. The study found that twenty percent of people who remembered being physically punished had been depressed and forty three percent were addicted to alcohol at some point of time or the other.

The study also found that seven percent of the mental disorders are related to physical punishment in childhood and this type of punishment was linked with poor mental outcomes and severe mental disorders that were almost uniform in all spheres. The researchers were quite surprised that increase in the education and income levels was closely associated with a likelihood of a heightened increase in harsh punishment of the child.

However, not all family researchers see spanking as a major problem as they argue that spanking if used appropriately inculcates discipline in a child except severe punishment that may have adverse effects on the children. Dr. Afifi and her team wrote that physical punishment may lead to chronic stress in children that could then increase their chance of developing depression or anxiety later on in their life.

All in all the findings provide evidence that harsh physical punishment that is independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders and Dr. Afifi further wrote that physical punishment should not be used on any child irrespective of age factor. It is to be noted that 32 nations around the world have banned corporal punishment of kids except in Canada and United States.

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