Spanking A Child = Mental Illness?

A recent study published in Pediatrics links spanking with mental illness in adults. The study suggests that 2% to 7% of mental disorders are linked to physical punishment. Out of 35,000 survey participants, 1,300 reported that they had endured grabbing, pushing, hitting and slapping. Physical punishment has been abolished in 30 nations but not in the United States and Canada.

I share the thoughts of physchologist Robert Larzelere who thinks that spanking for younger kids if used in an appropriate manner doesn't have a detrimental effect. According to, a review that Larzelere co-authored, states that when spanking was used as a backup to nonphysical discipline it was better at reducing noncompliance and antisocial behavior.

I personally believe in spanking. Yes, I said it, now I will wait for DCFS to show up at my home. There is a big difference between spanking and beating. I define spanking as a hit on the hand or on the bottom with your hand. Spankings are for young children. As children get older, you need to take away things of value as a punishment. As children get older you would need to hit harder to have the same effect that you had when they were younger and that crosses into abuse territory and I don't condone that.

Thirty nations have banned physical punishment, we have not and we have serious discipline and behavior issues. I think that the French may be on to something. According to Mom365, the French believe that Americans coddle their children too much. An American mother living in France wrote a book titled "Bringing Up Be`Be`". The book compares the attitudes of French parents and American parents regarding how they feel about parenting. The French seem to make their children adapt to the adults' lives. Americans tend to change their lives to suit the children. The French don't give in to instant gratification. They make their children wait and learn patience at an early age. Maybe we are raising a bunch of whinners and that's why they act out and need to be spanked.

As far as this study goes, I think that if you regularly and severely beat a child, it can have lasting effects on a child. I also think that there are too many people in this country that are having children who are not prepared for parenthood and that results in children being abused. I wished that they had published the demographics of the parents of the people who participated in this study.

Do you believe in spanking? Do you think that spanking will result in mental illness? Please vote in the poll below, no login required.

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  • In light of the Judge Adams video,

    We often hear from those who fight to uphold this practice for those under the age of 18 (even to the blaming of the social maladies of the day on a supposed "lack" of it), but we rarely, if ever, find advocates for the return of corporal punishment to the general adult community, inmate population, military, or college campuses. Why is that?

    Ask ten unyielding proponents of child/adolescent/teenage-only "spanking" about the "right" way to do it, and what would be abusive, indecent, or obscene, and you will get ten different answers.

    These proponents should consider making their own video-recording of the "right way" to do it.

  • In reply to 18andsafenow:

    I totally agree with you. Nowhere else do we allow physical punishment of another person. Nowhere else is it permissible to hit another person. Not only is spanking wrong but it is also totally ineffective. The only reason you can strike a child is because you the adult is bigger.

  • Oh my gosh. I find this post so disturbing. You quote a study that says spanking causes mental illness and then you say you believe in it? Spanking is wrong, plain and simple, which i why it's been banned in so many countries. You can get your point across just as effectively but not hitting a small and vulnerable person who depends on you. So why do it?

    Moreover, there is no such thing as a "right way" to hit another person, especially a child. If I smacked you on the street, even lightly, for doing something stupid, it would be cause for arrest. If you do it to a child, it should be the same.

    And please don't try to kid yourself: there is NO difference between spanking and beating. Striking another person is striking another person. And when you hit a child, that child is more likely to hit another person, particularly someone smaller than him or her. I encourage you to read this recent piece on the Huffington Post.

    Then I encourage you to speak to parents who were beaten (or what you call spanked) as a child as well as parents who use wiser and less harmful ways to discipline. Don't make children pay for their parents' inability to control their anger or laziness.

    Yes, laziness. While it may take more effort to talk to your child rather than simply hit him/her, it will be better for that person in the long run.

  • Wendy, the study suggest that there is a link between spanking and mental illness but does not indicate that one causes the other. If you tap a toddler on the hand because he is still misbehaving after several warnings and attempts to get him to stop, that is not the same as slapping or shoving a child. You can call me lazy because I spanked my children when they were small and they are two of the nicest, well rounded, well spoken, happy girls that I know and that is a quote from someone else. Its a matter of opinion. I don't think that you are lazy because you don't spank your child.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    Thanks for correcting me, Tracy. Yes, it's true - causation is not the same as correlation.

    As long as we're getting into the nitty gritty, I find it interesting how you go from the word "spanking" in your post to "a tap" in your response. Perhaps you're more uncomfortable with maiming a child than you'd like to admit?

    I'm glad your girls are two of the "nicest, well rounded, well spoken happy girls you know." Please at least consider the possibility - the likelihood - that could have achieved the same results without hurting or intimidating them physically.

    As you can see, this is a topic I'm quite passionate about. As someone on the receiving end of the taps, spanks and blows, I can tell you it did nothing but leave scars, shame and anger. It certainly didn't "link" to an improvement in my behavior.

    Sadly, I don't see this a matter of opinion. I believe that inflicting physical pain or discomfort on another person who is not physically harming you, especially those you're supposed to protect, is just plain wrong.

  • I am totally and completely comfortable with my stance on spanking. If you spank a toddler that is not the same as slapping or shoving a child. There, I said it! I'm sorry that your parents damaged you by spanking you as a child. We are all human and are therefore different. Different things affect people in different ways. Some people are stronger than others.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    Stronger? Ha.

  • Wendy, I don't agree with this part: "And when you hit a child, that child is more likely to hit another person, particularly someone smaller than him or her." I got a few spankings when I was little and I never hit anybody smaller than me. Matter of fact, I've been in three fights my whole life and all three were with people BIGGER than me and my age. A friend of mine who really did get beatings from my mother had never been in a fight her entire life. I watched her completely back down from fighting another girl much smaller than her. I asked her why and she said that because she'd been hit by her mother, she was afraid that if she ever really did hit someone, she would do serious harm. To this day, she has still never been in a fight. I think the reason some parents just won't go so far as to not spank if all other methods are exhausted are because they don't want to raise disrespectful kids who feel like they can act/say ANYTHING to their parents. I know it's a reality show, but I stared in horror watching "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" when Kris Jenner's kids threw her in the pool and almost broke her toe. What did Kris do in return? Nothing. Besides complain and "talk" to them. Now whether reality TV is entertaining, just the idea of doing something like that to my own mother (or even kids seeing how no-spanking kids can treat their parents) is beyond me. I think a little bit of fear from parents is OK. Just a bit of, "If Mom finds out, there will be trouble" is all right with me. I don't think it's a matter of being lazy. I think it's a matter of knowing how to use common sense discipline. The parent I think is lazy is the one who lets his/her kid run all over him/her, damn near fearing the kid.

  • I actually saw this on my friend's news feed this morning:

    "I just heard on the radio that children who were spanked as a child have an increased chance of mental problems as adults. By that they mean if you were disciplined as a child and grow up to be disciplined, you no longer fit in here."

    What I see in the stores and out in public in general are kids who are allowed to run amok and do whatever they want. The parents not only don't talk to their kids, but ignore their behavior, while the rest of us look on in complete horror.

  • In reply to siblingless:

    I have encountered people who don't believe in spanking and I respect that but a lot of them don't seem to believe in any discipline at all.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    Tracy, I invite you to come over to my house and see what a no spanking zone looks like. I have to admit, it's lovely and I know you'll enjoy it. Then I'd be happy to take you to my friends' homes. Also lovely, filled with well-behaved and well-discipled children who are never physically hurt by their parents.

    Perhaps after that I'll take you to my friend's house, a woman I know spanks her kids. They are whiney, don't listen, and can't take no for an answer. Is this because them? No. But what it says to me is that she's hitting them because she's extremely frustrated. And it's not doing anyone any good.

    Again, I welcome you to come over to hang out with us. Bring your girls - I'm sure my daughter will love them.

  • Your friends kids are unruly because she isn't raising them. Spanking is a tool that people use in the process of raising their kids. Some choose to use it and some people don't. I would be happy to visit your home as long as we don't have this lovely conversation while I'm visiting.

  • In reply to siblingless:

    Agreed. I went to Target to do some grocery shopping today and watched two boys just running all up and down the aisles while I saw one parent on a phone and another looking in the freezer. The ONLY person to tell these kids to stop running was a Target employee. When I was coming up, I wouldn't dream of running all over a store. The look ALONE from either one of my parents would make me go, "Nah, I'm good. I'll pass on that." I can't stand to see bad kids just running around not taking their parents seriously and disrespecting them. Reminds me of the Kardashians.

  • Spanking my girlfriend = pretty damn cool

  • In reply to gwill:

    Nice way to soften up the conversation!

  • Spankings, growing up, was something to be feared. My mom's spankings was just a swat on the butt to get your attention--those we weren't afraid of, but respected.

    My dad, however, is another story. I probably should make a post about it, but right now I'm tired and had a glass of wine, and would probably trigger nightmares if I wrote too much right now. But suffice it to say he spanked in anger. He spanked to release his own frustration and anger on my siblings' little bodies. He spanked just because he thought we disrespected him. He spanked my hard of hearing little brother simply because he couldn't hear at a boy scouts meeting.

    An open hand on a bare butt causes more damage than simply pain on the rear--it causes very true psychological damage. I barely remember my spankings because i've blocked it out of my mind, but I remember my siblings'.

    The spankings didn't hurt us too much physically. But mentally--we feared dad. We feared that he would actually hurt us. I remember thinking, wishing, that he would actually HIT us with a fist, because as sheltered as I was from the outside world (we homeschooled), I suspected that actual hitting would be believed. It would leave a bruise, then people would believe me when I told them how angry my father was all the time.

    Yet, spanking is still defended by many parents--perhaps not comprehending the differences in spanking. My mom's rare swats I would hesitate to endorse, but they didn't cause lasting psychological damage. (I'm not sure if this is objective--or if it seemed harmless compared to my dad's). But there are parents like my dad who use it as a tool to release anger and frustration upon a child. And then there are parents like the so-called parents of Hanna Williams, who believed in "Biblical spanking", and actually beat their children with pipes--defending it as merely spanking. These parents call their beatings "spankings" justifying it as a parental right--evoking ideas of my mother's swats, while trying to cover up systematic child abuse designed to break the will of a child, forcing them into blind obedience.

    In all honesty, Tracy, based on my own personal experience and from reading the stories of other children who have endured the pain of spankings from parents who are supposed to love them...I hope that your spankings are merely an attention-getting swat verses anything longer than just one swat. Anything longer than that is not justifiable. If it takes longer spankings in order to punish a child, then the parents should step back and reconsider their intentions. What are they gaining from longer spankings? What are the children gaining?

  • In reply to Holly:

    Thanks for sharing a very personal story. As I stated in my blog, I believe in spanking small children. I believe that my spankings were akin to your mother's spanking to get attention from my children. My children are 12 and 14 and it has been years since they received spankings. I don't tolerate abuse and when you are "spanking" an older child it is abuse or they must be laughing at you for swatting them. There are people that see spanking as a black and white issue. I believe that there are shades of gray. I don't believe in spanking just to be spanking or because you are in a bad mood, that is abuse. Spanking should be used as a tool in disciplining your child. Your child should know and understand why they are receiving a spanking. Thanks for reading!

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    You're light years ahead of many parents who spank :) I agree--so many people don't see shades of gray when it comes to spanking. (and if people reading this are imagining the books, get your minds out of the gutter, ha). Me, I'm not sure I will ever spank my children whenever I do have children just because of my own experience, but a swat isn't abuse in of itself.

    I know you were being facetious when talking about DCFS, but you have no reason to worry. They only investigate when it's a closed fist situation, or when parents are using objects.

  • I agreed with your blog all the way until it got to "I wished that they had published the demographics of the parents of the people who participated in this study." All that does is reinforce stereotypes/prejudice of what people ALREADY think the parents look like. While they may be right or wrong, every parent is different and the social circle around each parent is different.

    I'm always hearing about couples who didn't have "planned" children but didn't make any effort to use birth control. None were exactly "prepared" to be parents. However, some turn out to be great parents and others don't. I've seen teen moms (that I know personally) end up with some really great kids. I've also seen some fully grown adults who are the worst parents ever and end up with screwed up children who then make screwed up children.

    One thing I do notice about the children (even from parents who weren't ready for children) who ended up okay is that the entire circle (grandparents, cousins, uncles, etc.) were there to be role models. It takes a village... As far as spanking, I have mixed feelings about that one. I've had a few spankings as a kid and didn't end up with any mental disorders, and I can STILL remember ALL of them because they were so few and far between (and I still have a grudge against one particular time, courtesy of me being blamed for my mischievous brother).

    But some kids really get hit hard with abuse, and that's where I agree with you about the difference between spanking and beating. But if someone grows up in a household where they were beaten and turned out OK, it's much more difficult to convince that same parent that "spare the rod, spoil the child" is a bunch of bull. I think what some parents can't seem to get right is when it's time for physical punishment, usually when verbal punishment has been completely exhausted. I'd rather talk than put my hands on anybody. Even a glare can shut some kids up. The other problem is the parent who continues to threaten to hit the kid but never does it, and then that kid will never take that parent seriously. From their perspective, it's "What are you going to do? Give me another timeout." Very, very mixed bag.

  • In reply to Shamontiel:

    Thanks for your comments. Let me just say that with regards to demographics, they show wealthy people and poor people. Not all poor people are bad parents and I know plenty of wealthy people who I think are awful parents.

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    Physical punishment in children will always be an abuse towards the most innocent , little and vulnerable little beings that you are supposed to love, teach and guide.

    I don't think there's a right way to spank a children, but there's definitely a right way to rise a children when you know how to do it.

  • Spanking is physical violence plain and simple. It teaches a child, even a small child, that if someone behaves a way you don't like, hit them! When my son was two, I swatted him once. He promptly hit me back. It was very disturbing and very eye opening. I had great results from then on out with "time-outs".

  • In reply to zimzo57:

    Spanking is a tool for discipline. You can't just spank a child and not explain why it happened. Spanking should never be the only form of discipline.

  • Well, I am glad time-outs exclusively is what worked for me, Physical violence is physical violence, and hitting a child IS physcial violence, even if it's accompanied by an "explanation".

  • In reply to zimzo57:

    Are you going to seek an arrest warrant if another kid hits your kid, since you have declared that hitting is physical violence?

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    Too many people don't know the difference between beating and spanking a child.

    Some parents think they need to bruise the kid, or break a bone, just to make their drug-addled point.

    Others think it would be abusive to slap a toddler's hand, to keep him/her from sticking a fork into an electrical outlet.

  • In reply to Geno57:

    Geno57 you are totally correct! Some people don't know the difference between spanking and beating and some people don't care about the difference between the two. If so many people think of hitting someone as such a violent act, are they going to seek an arrest warrant if their kid gets hit by another kid?

  • OK we all understand - BUT after you teach YOUR kid that violence is the way to handle things; and YOUR kid attempts to use violence to make a point to ME.

    DON'T get all upset when I KILL your kid.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    Woah, why do we have to threaten to kill kids around here?

    The study refers to pushing in addition to slapping and hitting. I'm pretty sure Tracy doesn't push her kids or slap them in the face. Chill out. Tracy's kids go to one of the best schools in the city and can be trusted to ride the train and handle themselves in public. That doesn't sound like a product of bad parenting to me.

    An adult threatening to kill someone's kids? Wow. In the words of Rahm Emanuel, who raised YOU?

  • Thanks, Jenna! I'm not sure how spanking a toddler or small child has turned into that child growing up to hit a grown man and being killed.

  • Here are "your kids" (a few years later) doing exactly what YOU taught them to do (watch the video closely).

    You're damm right they should be killed:,0,1391552.story

  • In reply to mikep621:,0,4914322.story

  • In reply to mikep621:

    I think that your comments have gone too far. I welcome a healthy debate about any issue that I write about but your comments about kids being killed, are out of line. Please refrain from commenting if you can't do it in a respectful and constructive manner.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:


    I think it was having 4 "kids" stomp my head into the subway car floor (it wasn't "respectful" at all - to me).

    Sorry, if it hadn't happened I certainly wouldn't feel the way I do; BUT it did - and I do.

    When you teach your kids to handle things with violence, don't expect everybody to respond to it by calling 911.

  • In reply to mikep621:

    So we have gone from a toddler or small child being spanked to that child hitting you and you killing him? Who has the violent mindset here?

  • Tracy...hitting someone IS an act of violence! You seem like an intelligent articulate gal, but I don't understand how you are unable to convince yourself that waving your hand into the air and then slamming it onto a childs backside, is not physical violence. Do you allow your friends to slap you if you disappoint them? If you screw up at work, does your employer hit you?

  • In reply to zimzo57:

    It seems to be all or nothing with you. So if a five year old hits your five your old at school, you would want the police involved because its a violent act?

  • Also, I have not declared hitting physical violence. It's called battery, and here's the dictionary definition...

    b : an offensive touching or use of force on a person without the person's consent

    It is a crime. Unless your child gives consent. Did your children give their consent before you would batter them?

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