Physical punishment of children increases the chances of mood, anxiety and personality disorders, as well as alcohol and drug abuse in adulthood, according to a study in the latest Journal of Pediatrics.
Canadian researchers using data from nearly 35,000 American adults found that from 2 percent to 7 percent of mental disorders were attributable to physical punishment. To many experts, including Cyndi Scott, executive director of the Coalition Against Child Abuse and Neglect, the findings reinforce what they already know about spanking.
“It’s not going to be beneficial to the child, or to the parent, for them to use any kind of physical force. So, we would not recommend people hitting children.”
Many parents, Scott says, still see spanking as an effective way of discouraging misbehavior.
“There are times where people feel like, ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous. I was raised – my parents spanked me. I should be able to spank my child.’ But we also know – we see children who have been harmed by adults, and it can lead to trauma.”
The alternative, say some authorities on parenting, is talk – talking to children both before and after they engage in behavior that is not approved.