Medical and psychological experts have told parents for years that spanking does not work as a form of discipline.
Despite these warnings, parents have continued to use corporal punishment as a way to keep their children in line.
Now new research backs up the experts' claims and warns parents that when one receives spankings as a child, long-term life-long consequences such as depression and other mental illnesses can be the result.
A new study done by researchers at Canada's University of Manitoba and published on June 27, 2012 by the journal Pediatrics found that adults who received physical punishment like spankings as a child are more likely to suffer from depression, mania, anxiety and personality disorders, alcoholism, and drug abuse and dependency.
The increased likelihood of one suffering from these mental illnesses after being spanked as a child is small but significant.
Researchers drew their conclusions after examining the data given by 35,000 non-instituionalized American adults for a government study taken in 2004 and 2005.
Mental disorders in 2 to 7 percent of that population could be linked to corporal punishment as a child. Of the respondents over age 20, 1,300 reported receiving some form of physical punishment as a child which included being hit, pushed, slapped, grabbed, and shoved.
Those who reported receiving the harshest punishments were more likely to have mental disorders or drug and/or alcohol dependency.
Of those who remembered being physically punished, 20 percent had been depressed at some point in their life, compared to 16 percent of those who had not been hit or slapped.
Also, about 43 percent of those who were spanked reported having abused alcohol in the past, compared to 30 percent of people who did not experience physical punishment as a child.
The researchers did not include anyone who self-identified as having been sexually or mentally abused as a child, or as having experienced harsh physical abuse.
The reasoning behind this correlation is not exactly known. However, some experts theorize that the stress children receive when living in a home where physical punishment is doled out on a regular basis can build up over the years and result in anxiety and other disorders.
The researchers behind this study urge parents to avoid spanking and use "time outs" to punish bad behavior and positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior.
Medicaldaily.com. Web. Published 2 July 2012. "Spankings may cause depression in children later".
Pediatrics. Web. Published 27 June 2012. "Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders: Results From a Nationally Representative US Sample".
Reviewed July 5, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith