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Can Spanking Children Cause Mental Illness?

Topic Overview

Spanking children who are on to some mischief on a constant basis is quite common in many households. This is despite the fact that many organizations are against this form of punishment for children. A latest study has opined that spanking may in fact increases the risk of depression and leaning towards illicit drug use in children. The study is based on a data collected and analyzed of about 8000 adults based out of California [1].

This analysis included asking simple questions about the overall mental health of the people and then inquiring whether they had ever been spanked or smacked when they were kids, or whether they were subjected to other forms of physical and emotional abuse. The results of the data surprised many that physical abuse like spanking had caused many people to go into depression or get into the habit of drinking and taking recreational drugs [1]. This article gives in detail how spanking children may cause mental illness in children.

Can Spanking Children Cause Mental Illness?

Can Spanking Children Cause Mental Illness?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics which strongly advertises against physical punishment for children released the details of a new study which backs their claims and reinforces that spanking children is something that should be avoided by parents. The study states that children who are subjected to physical abuse like spanking early on in childhood go on to develop mental problems during their adult life. These problems range from mood problems like depression and anxiety to even substance abuse issues [2].

The study states that approximately 7% of people with mental disorders were found to have been punished physically when they were kids. The study involved around 30,000 adults which speak about the enormity of the study. Among them, around 1400 adults admitted to having been punished and spanked at some point in their childhood by their parents or relatives [2].

The aim of the study was to establish a link between physical abuse and mental disorders, which comes under Axis I and II in the differential diagnosis in Psychiatry. In Psychiatry, Axis I deals with clinical disorders that a patient has. These include any major mental illnesses, learning problems, or problems with substance abuse. Axis II in Psychiatry deals with personality traits and intellectual problems [2].

This study however has been much debated with some people having an opinion that while severe physical punishment may have detrimental effects on the overall psyche of a child, this at times becomes necessary and forced, and is aimed at improving their overall behavior and is for the good of the child [2].

A study done in 2005 showed that slight spanking if used only when absolutely necessary has worked in invoking a sense of discipline in many children and also has led to a remarkable change in the behavior of the child. In fact, many parents who would do anything but use physical punishments for their child agree with this view that if physical punishment like spanking is used in an appropriate manner is useful and not cause any major mental harm to the child [2].

In conclusion, it is quite clear that physical punishment like spanking in children when done frequently tends to affect the mind of the child and may lead to various mental problems. This has been proved in various studies. However, another study shows that when spanking is used as a mode of punishment infrequently and only when absolutely necessary it in fact may bring about a significant change in the behavior of the child for good and make the child more compliant and well behaved [2].

The topic of whether Spanking in Children should be considered as a form of physical abuse is something that needs to be studied more thoroughly. If Spanking in Children is done frequently without any reason then it definitely leads to development of mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and even personality disorders [2].

This clearly signifies that while inculcating discipline in children is something that parents need to take care of but doing it through Spanking is not the ideal way to go and should only be done in absolutely necessary [2].


Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 29, 2021

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