What spanking can do to your child

written by Meena Azzollini

mother scolds her child


There are many reasons why parents will support spanking their kids or they will hate it completely – that debate has been going on for a while.

Whatever the reasons, the verdict is out – getting spanked causes a host of mental problems in children when they attain adulthood, according to the latest research on the topic.

The study found that being spanked as a child resulted in significant self-reported depression and other mental health problems.

Spanking is usually seen as smacking a child on the buttocks with an open hand with the intention of causing the child some pain but not injury, and is a common form of discipline in many parts of the world.

But a new study from the University of Michigan shows us that spanking can have adverse effects on adults – from depression and suicide to drinking at moderate to excessive levels or use of drugs.

The study involved data from the CDC-Kaiser ACE study which consisted of more than 8,300 people between the ages of 19 and 97 years.

Study participants completed self-reports while undergoing health checks routinely at an outpatient clinic.

They were asked about their household and child experiences – how often they were spanked in the first 18 years, if an adult inflicted physical abuse such as push, grab, slap or shoved, or if they inflicted any emotional abuse such as insults or being cursed.

Almost 55 per cent of the study sample reported to being spanked. It was found that men are more likely to experience childhood spanking than women. Compared to white respondents, minority respondents (other than Asians) were more likely to be spanked.

The study found that being spanked as a child resulted in significant self-reported depression and other mental health problems.

The researchers note that spanking involves the use of force and infliction of pain which is similar to physical abuse and also shares similar health outcomes as abuse – opening up questions on whether it should be included as an adverse childhood experience (which also includes abuse, neglect, household dysfunction, divorce and an incarcerated relative).

The study highlights the need for more evidence based parenting programmes and policies which should be designed to prevent early childhood spanking and adversities.

Parenting can be one of the most challenging activities but by nurturing happiness and positively reinforcing good behaviour, children and parents can positively thrive in the long run.

It’s important for parents understand the implications of spanking which can help them prevent harsh parenting methods that have adverse lifelong effects on children.

Source: Science Direct

Seeking wellness? Visit our Wellbeing Directory

Like what you read? Sign up for a weekly dose of wellness

psychology news child development


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!