Study: Spanking Linked to Mood Disorders

Children whose parents punish them with spanking or another physical means of discipline are more likely to suffer from emotional problems including mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and personality disorders, a new Canadian study has found.  From

Researchers from Canada found that physical punishment (such as slapping, hitting, pushing and shoving) — even without child neglect or physical, sexual or emotional abuse — was linked to mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders.

While it may be true that many of today’s parents were spanked as children and are now well-adjusted, previous studies have also shown that those who were spanked are at a higher risk to be depressed; use alcohol; hit their spouse or own children; and engage in violent or criminal behaviors.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society discourage spanking and other forms of physical punishment. It is unlawful in 32 countries — not including the United States or Canada — for parents and other caregivers to use physical punishment against children.

The new study’s lead author, Tracie Afifi, said she believes that physical punishment should not be used on children of any age and that positive parenting strategies should instead be encouraged.

Preferred methods of discipline do not include physical punishment. For example, withholding privileges, using time-outs and offering consequences (for example, “If you throw your toy and it breaks, you won’t be able to play with it anymore”).

Image: Child being slapped, via Shutterstock.

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  1. by Kara

    On July 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Whenever you cite a study, could you name the actual study? Some of us would like to review any white papers published.

  2. by Shanna

    On July 7, 2012 at 4:12 am


    “White papers”?

  3. by ErinDobrinen

    On July 9, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I agree. White paper means the published study. If the author can’t link to it the article is B.S.

  4. by carolanne

    On July 14, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Unless U can name the study and the journal it was published in and the documentation, this means absolutely nothing. U have plenty of documentation from parents who see neighbors kids who are not disciplined, teachers who have undisciplined kids in the classrooms for hours longer than their parents see the same children, and all agree spanking is appropriate in some cases. Not beatings, whippings, not chokings, “smotherings”, not shaking, but spankings are ok where needed. Dashes into the street? Smack on the butt or two. Playing with a light socket or plug? Smack. Smart mouth? No, not necessary.Cold fish parents, uncaring parents cause mood disorders and more. Study that.

  5. by andrea

    On July 23, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Just to point out the supposed study says hitting, slapping, shoving, and pushing, all of which lead me to believe that these are used in anger unlike the way spanking should be appropriately used. Also the supposed previous studies are not referenced, leading me to believe that their findings have been inaccurately reported. Please do not post illegitimate information. It causes confusion and brings unwarranted prejudice against parents that spank

  6. by NLP

    On August 21, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    A simple Google search will find the study. At least look it up if you wish to dispute it.