Many Christians who love both God and their children choose to spank as a method of discipline, citing multiple scriptures as their foundation for doing so. A new study, however, is saying that childhood spanking may lead to mental illness, depression, alcoholism, and anxiety.

The Official Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics has published current research investigating the possible link between harsh physical punishment (pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, hitting) in the absence of more severe child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, exposure to intimate partner violence) and mental disorders.

For the study, epidemiologist Tracie Afifi, lead author of the study in today’s Pediatrics, along with her colleagues, analyzed data from a government survey of 35,000 non-institutionalized adults in the USA, collected between 2004 and 2005. Afifi tells USA Today, the study suggests “physical punishment should not be used on any child, at any age.”

In more than 30 nations, a parent’s right to use physical punishment has been abolished, but not in the USA or Canada, according to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment, which is endorsed by the United Nations and others.

But many experts reject the findings of the study, arguing that spanking can be an appropriate and effective way for parents to discipline children when done so reasonably. In fact, a 2010 University of North Carolina study found that nearly 80 percent of American pre-school children are spanked.

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