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Spanking Batters Kids' Mental Health: Study
Date:7/2/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 2 (HealthDay News) -- Spanking or slapping your children may increase the odds that they will develop mental health issues that plague them in adulthood, a new study suggests.

Researchers in Canada found that up to 7 percent of a range of mental health disorders were associated with physical punishment, including spanking, shoving, grabbing or hitting, during childhood.

"We're not talking about just a tap on the bum," said study author Tracie Afifi, an assistant professor in the department of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg. "We were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children."

Corporal punishment was associated with increased odds of anxiety and mood disorders, including major depression, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia and social phobia. Several personality disorders and alcohol and drug abuse were also linked to physical punishment, the researchers found.

"What's really important is to know that spanking and other forms of physical punishment come at a cost," said Afifi. "Physical punishment should not be used on children at any age under any circumstances."

While the study finds an association between physical punishment and mental illness, it does not prove that one causes the other.

Previous studies have linked physical punishment to aggression in children, delinquency and emotional, developmental and behavioral impairment. But this study examined its effects on mental health in the absence of more severe physical abuse, sexual abuse or other forms of neglect and mistreatment.

For the study, published online July 2 in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers used 2004-2005 data on about 34,000 individuals aged 20 or older gathered from the U.S. National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditi
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