Reaction Analysis – Spanking linked to Mental Illness
by jstelle | on July 3, 2012
Does repeated spanking and physical punishment of children lead to mental illness?
According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the regressed answer is yes. With respect to the study’s direct conclusion, the Pediatrics article, entitled “Physical Punishment and Mental Disorders: Results from a Nationally Representative US Sample“:
“CONCLUSIONS: Harsh physical punishment in the absence of child maltreatment is associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders in a general population sample. These findings inform the ongoing debate around the use of physical punishment and provide evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders.”
It is not the intent of this blog to question the validity and technical merits of the study and it’s conclusions, as that is the duty of the scientific community at large and the scientific method to reproduce and confirm such conclusions for ultimate acceptance.
Rather, the purpose of this blog is to highlight and digest the popular reaction to these conclusions linking habitual spanking and physical punishment to a significant risk of mental illness including major depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and mania.
Undoubtedly, the issue of physical punishment upon children has long been a contentious topic. Publication of such an article directly linking habitual physical punishment to higher risk of mental illness clearly adds more fuel to the debate. Within this debate, what popular reactive themes are emerging and what, if anything, can these reactions tell us?
For an answer to this question, we turn our attention to a Yahoo! based blog post entitled “Spanking Linked to Mental Illness, Says Study” whose comments have developed a significant sample size from which to glean the following popular themes:
Most popular comments based upon number of replies and the thumbs up/thumbs down bias:
1) 7006 thumbs up/181 thumbs down
I was spanked as a child but only when I earned it and I turned out reasonably well-adjusted. I was spanked, not BEATEN. There’s a world of difference between the two.
Most respondents are generally okay with a “mild” level of physical punishment, especially when the child is not behaving ideally and somehow has “earned” it. Bottom line: When judged acceptable in the eyes of a parent, physical punishment is allowable in this country, but not others. Mental illness is not generally a consideration.
2) 3523 thumbs up/122 thumbs down
Where is the study of how many kids that were never spanked as a child grew up to have disciplinary problems?
Theme/conclusion: A huge majority of respondents agree that not spanking a child may cause unwanted disciplinary problems. Bottom line: Habitual spanking is a better alternative and they therefore permit physical punishment of children.
3) 6148 thumbs up/167 thumbs down
In a related study, children who were given no consequences at all for bad behaviors turned out to be psychopaths, sociopaths, and politicians.
He who does not discipline their child, does not love them! There are tons of examples of people who don’t discipline their kids and they are outta control..too late in alot of cases. Discipline in love and not anger = well adjusted children.
Theme/conclusion: Spanking “out of love” is okay and is acceptable as long as a parent puts a nice face on it.
Final thought on the reaction analysis regarding the study on spanking and mental illness:
I’m a bit surprised by how firmly entrenched we seem to be as a whole when it comes to the allowance of spanking. After learning that this study even remotely links spanking to mental illness and also that physical punishment of children is actually illegal in other countries should be a challenge to me as a parent and to us all to do our best to use alternative disciplinary methods and minimize physical consequences as a last resort.
What do you think? Please leave your comments and share this with others to have their voice in the debate in the link between spanking and mental illness.