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The UK’s National Health Service Website ‘NHS Choices‘ published an interesting article today which I thought I would share with you and which I hope might spark a lively debate.

The headline of said article asks the question, “Does smacking kids make them mentally ill?” and the article itself was generated by a prior article appearing in one the of the UK’s national tabloid newspapers (The Daily Mail) which “boldly reports” (NHS Choices words not mine) that…

Adults smacked as children have higher risk of mental illness later on,1

NHS Choices go on to say…

The news is based on a study that investigated whether there was a link between children who were physically punished (for example, spanked) but not abused, and the development of a mental disorder such as depression or alcohol and drug abuse as an adult.1

This study was based on the results of a nationally representative US survey of 34,653 adults. It found that harsh physical punishment (which stopped short of child abuse) was associated with mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders.1

It further went on to state…

Although this is an interesting study, it provides no evidence of a causal link between physical punishment and development of a mental disorder later in life.1

Stating that…

This study also relies upon self-reported information, with adults asked to recall being punished as a child.1

And pointed out that…

Both of these facts limit our ability to conclude that smacking causes mental illness. As such, the headline in the Mail is misleading because it does not take into account the limitations of this study.1

So I thought I would share that with you and ask you what your take/opinion on it all is? BUT please do not even consider answering if this is a very delicate or difficult subject for you.

Questions running through my mind and which I would very much be interested in your feedback are…

  1. Were you spanked at home as a child and if so until what age and by whom?
  2. Do you think it was done lovingly and appropriately?
  3. If you were disciplined in a different way at home then how? Until what age and by whom?
  4. Do you think that was loving and appropriate?
  5. Were you spanked/given corporal punishment at school and if so until what age and by whom?
  6. Do you think it was done appropriately?
  7. If your were spanked as a child (either at home or at school) do you think that is partly responsible for your mental health?
  8. If you were disciplined in another way as a child do you think that way is partly responsible for your mental health?
  9. Society’s attitudes towards spanking and corporal punishment has without doubt changed of late.  Consequently it is possible that spanking and corporal punishment which was experienced as a child and at that time considered perfectly normal and acceptable could later be seen as being abusive.  Is it in your opinion possible therefore that someone’s understanding or perspective of how they were disciplined be shaped or even corrupted by the change in society’s attitude towards spanking and corporal punishment?