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Spanking Lead to Mental Disorders Later In Life. True or False?

Sandro Di Carlo Darsa, Getty Images

A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that physical punishment to discipline children, has a strong association with “…increased risks of mental and personality disorders, as well as drug and alcohol abuse.”

The way the American Academy of Pediatrics writes their results, actually proves nothing concrete, but rather, article points out that spanking does not actually cause mental health disorders, researchers claim there is a strong correction.

The results “send a strong message that spanking should never be used on a child,” states Abel Ickowicz, psychiatrist-in-chief at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Monday saw a study which is being called “the first of its kind” to show that physical punishment can lead to these disorders even in the absence of more severe child maltreatment, such as sexual and emotional abuse or neglect. It claims to have examined data from the U.S. that tracked 35,000 individuals under the age of 20 from 2004 to 2005, and found that children who said they were spanked were 1.4 times more likely to suffer from depression, 1.98 times more likely to have an antisocial disorder and 2.31 times more likely to have a schizotypal personality disorder.

Interesting to note that the data doesn’t show that spanking actually causes mental disorders, accrding to Tracie Afifi, lead author and assistant professor of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba, “it does present a statistically significant correlation.”

While the Canadians said that spanking causes mental harm, the 2006 New Zealand Medical Journal says otherwise, “There’s evidence on both sides that says spanking does and does not cause harm,” he said, adding that the smack should not leave a mark and avoid the face and head. “What we are saying is that is really depends on the child, the parents and the relationship they have. … It should be one of the many options available to [the parents] including timeouts and taking away privileges.”

So the question is, which one do you believe? Canadians or New Zealanders? Or do we just let parents be parents to discipline in the best way they know how?

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