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A new study has revealed that six in 10 young Australians were smacked by their parents when they were a child.
The findings from the Australian Child Maltreatment Study (ACMS) found that 61 per cent of Aussies aged between 16 and 24 experienced a form of physical punishment from their parents on more than three occasions while growing up.
The shocking results also found that those who suffered from corporal punishment when younger were almost twice as likely to develop mental health problems.
The study was conducted nationwide on 8,500 Australians with the aim to help inform government and state policy on a wide variety of issues.
The results have seen a call for a smacking ban and any legal defence of ‘reasonable chastisement' in order to help protect children.
“In Australia right now, you have better protection from violence as a female adult or a pet than you do as a child.
“If you want to reduce population level anxiety for women and men, don’t hit them as children. There is a very real connection between corporal punishment and current and lifelong experience of mental ill health.”
The initial findings show that females who experienced physical punishment as a child were 1.8 times more likely to have a major depressive disorder later in their life, and 2.1 times more likely to experience anxiety.
Meanwhile, males were 1.7 times more likely to develop depression, and 1.6 times more likely to experience anxiety.
The findings are set to be presented at the Australian Institute of Family Studies conference with recommendations to close defence loopholes making it legal for parents to hit their kids as a form of discipline.
Victoria currently doesn’t have any legislation for the physical punishment of children, while Queensland states teachers and parents can use ‘reasonable’ force.
In New South Wales it is illegal for parents to hit children on their head or neck, whilst pain should only last for a ‘short period’.
62 countries have legislation that makes it a crime to use any form of corporal punishment on children.
Sweden was the first to outlaw physical punishment methods all the way back in 1979.
Other countries that have a smacking ban include New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Greece, France, and most recently Wales, which made the ban in March 2022.
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