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Could Spanking Your Kid Cause Mental Disorders in Adulthood?

New research suggests that physical punishment as a form of discipline in kids may increase the risk of mental disorders in adulthood from mood and anxiety disorders to drug and alcohol abuse. The study lead by Tracie Afifi, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Canada, looked at data from a government survey of 35,000 non-institutionalized adults in the USA, collected between 2004 and 2005. What Afifi found was that roughly 2% to 7% of mental disorders in the study were linked to physical punishment. In this article from USA Today, it says: <block>It is well established that physical and sexual abuse, emotional neglect, and other severe forms of maltreatment in childhood are associated with mental illness, this is one of the first studies to show a link between non-abusive physical punishment and several different types of mental disorders.</block>

Not everyone is on board with the results. In the article some family researchers argue that spanking, used properly, can be appropriate discipline. Psychologist Robert Larzelere, of Oklahoma State University, Stillwater co-authored a 2005 review of studies comparing spanking with non-physical discipline methods. In it he identified an "optimal type of physical discipline," referred to as conditional spanking, and said that when it was used as a backup to nonphysical discipline it was better at reducing noncompliance and antisocial behavior. 

Afifi counters that the data strongly indicates physical punishment should not be used on children of any age and that parents should be aware of the potential damage it could cause. Read more here.

What are your thoughts? 

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