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Spanking linked to mental health problems

2nd July 2012

Researchers in Canada say physical punishment including spanking, slapping, pushing and shoving may put a child at increased risk for emotional problems later in life.

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The researchers, writing in the journal Pediatrics, said that while harsh punishment was different from physical or sexual abuse, it still had lasting repercussions.

According to Tracie Afifi, assistant professor in the department of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba in Canada, parents should avoid using physical punishment on children of any age.

In a survey encompassing more than 3,450 adults, researchers found that 5.9% reported being physically punished, but not abused, by a parent or other adult they lived with.

The participants were also quizzed about their moods, anxiety and personality disorders, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

They found that as many as 7% of mental disorders in adults were linked to physical punishment as children.

Afifi said that physical punishment was linked to several mental disorders and poor mental outcomes.

She said that alternative methods of disciplining children could employ positive reinforcement, where good behaviour is rewarded instead of bad behaviour being punished.

She said disciplinary measures should also be age appropriate, and that punishments appropriate for a four-year-old would be abusive if meted out to an infant.

According to Andrew Adesman, head of developmental and behavioural paediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, actions that might be acceptable in one age group are unacceptable towards another.

Adesman said that parents should begin by setting clear expectations with clear consequences, and that it was not sufficient just to tell parents that harsh physical punishment could harm children.

He said time-outs can be an effective way of disciplining kindergarteners and primary school children, if they are correctly used.

He said a rough guide should be one minute of time-out per year of age, and that they should always happen in a safe place where the parent could easily watch the child.

Adesman said that sending a child to their room did not constitute a time-out, nor did continuing to argue with or talk to a child who was supposed to be taking some quiet time to reflect on their behaviour.

According to Daniel Coury, the new study builds on previous findings which have already linked extreme physical abuse of children to future behavioural problems.

But he said that the current research had shown that harsh physical discipline could have similarly long-lasting effects, and increase a person's risk of lifelong mental health problems.


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Comments

Marjorie Mead

Tuesday 3rd July 2012 @ 19:44

In light of the Judge Adams video,



We often hear from those who fight to uphold this practice for those under the age of 18 (even to the blaming of the social maladies of the day on a supposed "lack" of it), but we rarely, if ever, find advocates for the return of corporal punishment to the general adult community, inmate population, military, or college campuses. Why is that?



Ask ten unyielding proponents of child/adolescent/teenage-only "spanking" about the "right" way to do it, and what would be abusive, indecent, or obscene, and you will get ten different answers.



These proponents should consider making their own video-recording of the "right way" to do it.


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