Spanking is Associated With Mental Illness

Kermit Cole
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Canadian researchers, publishing today in the journal Pediatrics, find that physical punishment such as spanking is associated with an increased risk of mental disorders. Acknowledging that the study could not prove a causal link, study author Tracie Afifi asserted that the statistical relationship is clear. Though legal in the U.S. and Canada, spanking has been outlawed in more than 30 countries.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

7 COMMENTS

  1. “Physical punishment was defined as pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting…”

    Yet the title is Spanking? Pushing, grabbing, shoving and slapping are not spanking. I’m not sure “hitting” is spanking. I’d need to see a more specific definition.

    I guess they wanted a headline to generate interest. We’re about two years away from ‘World Spank Out Day’

    • I agree – there is a vast difference between spanking and “pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping and hitting” – I was spanked (in a legitimate fashion) but also “illegitimately” – ambushed from behind doors when I was observed misbehaving outdoors; also slapped, and even kicked – but I have to say that virtually none of that had the impact on me that the emotional abuse did.