Study: Childhood spankings can lead to adult mental health probl - WNEM TV 5

Study: Childhood spankings can lead to adult mental health problems

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It’s a controversial topic among parents – to spank or not spank your child.

Researchers define spanking as “using physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury, to correct or control the youth's behavior.”

However, a new study by the University of Michigan now claims getting spanked as a child can lead to mental health problems in adulthood.

>>Read the full study here<<

Andrew Grogan-Kaylor and Shawna Lee, both U-M associate professors of social work, said the violence caused by spanking can lead adults to feel depressed, attempt suicide, drink at moderate-to-heavy levels or use illegal drugs.

"Placing spanking in a similar category to physical/emotional abuse experiences would increase our understanding of these adult mental health problems," Grogan-Kaylor said.

The study sampled more than 8,300 people, ranging in age from 19 to 97 years. Participants completed self-reports while seeking routine health checks at an outpatient clinic.

They were asked about how often they were spanked in their first 18 years, their household background and if an adult inflicted physical abuse (push, grab, slap or shoved) or emotional abuse (insulted or cursed).

Nearly 55 percent of respondents reported being spanked. Men were more likely to experience childhood spanking than women, according to researchers.

Those reporting exposure to spanking had increased odds of depression and other mental health problems, the study showed.  

Researchers say the study raises the question of whether spanking should be considered an hostile childhood experience.

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