Spank your kids? Study finds it can create significant problems later in life

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Spanking as a form of punishment for kids may lead to mental problems down the road.

A new study points to a "significant link" between corporal punishment of children and a higher risk of adult mental-health issues.

Researchers say they discovered that up to 7 percent of mental disorders -- ranging from anxiety problems to alcohol abuse -- were associated with such punishment.

But other experts question the conclusion, believing if spanking is used appropriately, it won't have a detrimental effect.

According to USA Today, this is one of the first studies to show a link between non-abusive physical punishment and several different types of mental disorders, according to epidemiologist Tracie Afifi, lead author of the study in today's Pediatrics.

“Individuals who are physically punished have an increased likelihood of having mental health disorders. Approximately 2% to 7% of mental disorders in the study were linked to physical punishment,” said Afifi, who is also an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba, Canada.

“The study's findings add evidence to the argument that physical punishment should not be used on any child, at any age," she says.

Research for the study was gathered from a government survey of 35,000 non-institutionalized adults in the USA, collected between 2004 and 2005.

More than 30 countries have banned spanking, whether it be in public or in the confines of home.

According to, some of those countries are Sweden, Norway, Austria, Israel, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, New Zealand, Kenya, and South Sudan.