Though many of us may remember being punished this way, the idea of spanking a child when they disobey has become a heated debate in recent years. But a new study that analyzes 50 years of research suggests definitively that children who are spanked are at greater risk of developing long-term mental health problems.
A local Detroit CBS affiliate reports about the study from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and University of Texas that suggests spanking kids often leads to aggression and depression as adults. Through 50 years of research on spanking children, researchers also find that it’s a cycle - those who were spanked as children are much more likely to discipline their children in this way and so forth.
Researchers involved in the study were not surprised to find that adults who were spanked as kids were more likely to suffer mental health problems later in life.They were however surprised how all of the data they analyzed supports the theory, especially given the breadth of research spanning 50 years. One of the researchers involved in the study Andrew Grogan-Kaylor explains, “What’s surprising is kind of the unanimity of 50 years of research — it’s not inconsistent research or it’s not kind of a debate, it’s almost 100 percent consistent.”
Grogan-Kaylor also warns that parents who think they are correcting a problem by choosing spanking as a form of discipline don’t understand the possible long-term side effects. He says, “Parents spank because they want to correct bad behavior that’s happening right now. As human beings, we often tend to be bad at seeing long-term outcomes. So what the research says is that the spanking is probably not going to correct the behavior in the short-term and it’s very likely to lead to mental health difficulties, anxious kids, aggressive kids.”
What do you think about this new study suggesting spanking often leads to mental health problems?
Do you think the way children are disciplined has an effect on their mental health later in life?