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Spanking Children & Mental Health: Punishment Linked To Disorders Later In Life

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Spanking or hitting children as a means of punishment may increase their risk of mental disorders later in life, a new study finds.

Among adults, 2 to 7 percent of cases of mental disorders — including major depression, anxiety disorder and paranoia — are attributable to physical punishment that occurred during childhood, the researchers said.

The study did not include people who experienced maltreatment as children, such as such as physical or sexual abuse, or emotional neglect.

The study adds to a growing body of research showing that physical punishment in childhood can lead to poor mental health in adulthood, including increased risk of depression, suicidal thoughts and alcohol abuse. [See Embarrassing Punishments Hurt Kids.]

The findings suggest that eliminating all physical punishment of children would reduce the prevalence of mental disorders, the researchers said.

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