Study confirms smacking your child 'significantly increases the risk of serious mental health disorders'
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A new study has revealed that smacking your child ‘significantly increases the risk of serious mental health disorders'.
The next time you want to enforce a little corporal punishment on your kid, you might want to think again.
An Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health research paper has found that smacking can have long-term effects.
University of Melbourne professor of psychiatry Sophie Havighurst, lead author of the report Corporal Punishment of Children in Australia, said the findings make a case for the country to make physical discipline illegal.
“If it’s illegal to hit your neighbour, their child or their dog, why is it legal to hit your child? Why don’t children have the same right to protection from violence as adults?” she said, as per The Australian.
Corporal punishment being legal in all jurisdictions nationwide and the paper notes that it’s still prevalent.
The paper reported that six in 10 people aged between 16 to 24 reported they had experienced four or more incidents of corporal punishment.
Their findings also coincide with the Australian Child Maltreatment Study, which showed that 61 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds who were smacked as kids were nearly twice as likely to develop anxiety and depression later in life.
Co-author Professor Daryl Higgins, director of the Australian Catholic University’s Institute of Child Protection Studies, said the older generation was more likely to believe smacking was effective, with 38 per cent of those over 65 considering it necessary.
However, only 15 per cent of 16-24-year-olds agreed it was appropriate.
The paper also found that countries such as New Zealand that had changed laws to make smacking illegal saw a significant decrease in corporal punishment.
Currently, 63 countries have outlawed corporal punishment; however, most recently, the UK denied calls to ban smacking.
According to BBC News, while the government confirmed it wouldn’t change its stance, a Department for Education spokesperson said they ‘do not condone any violence towards children and has clear laws in place to prevent it’.
But many advocates are speaking out against the government's decision.
NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: "It cannot be right that in this country it is illegal to hit an adult, but equal protection is not given to a child.
"We need put the wellbeing of children first and bring an end to this legal anomaly."