Spank Risk

Childhood spanking can lead adults to depression, suicide, addiction and incarceration

Childhood spankings can lead to adult mental health problems

spanking, raising children, kids, punishment

spanking, raising children, kids, punishment

Next time a white or a minority is about to spank a child they should ponder the long-term outcome. Violence caused by spanking can lead adults to feel depressed, attempt suicide, drink at moderate-to-heavy levels or use illegal drugs, say Andrew Grogan-Kaylor and Shawna Lee, University of Michigan associate professors of social work.

“Placing spanking in a similar category to physical/emotional abuse experiences would increase our understanding of these adult mental health problems,” Grogan-Kaylor said.

Put spanking right along with abuse, neglect and household dysfunction such as divorce and an incarcerated relative as part and parcel of adverse childhood events.

In the study sample, nearly 55% of respondents reported being spanked. Men were more likely to be spanked than women in the study of some 8,300 people aged 19-97. Minority respondents—other than Asians—were more likely to report being spanked.


Less spanking is the order of the day, say the authors. “This can be achieved by promoting evidence-based parenting programs and policies designed to prevent early adversities and associated risk factors,” said Lee. “Prevention should be a critical direction for public health initiatives to take.”

Melissa T. Merrick, Katie A. Ports, Derek C. Ford, Tracie O. Afifi, Elizabeth T. Gershoff, Andrew Grogan-Kaylor. Unpacking the impact of adverse childhood experiences on adult mental health. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2017; 69: 10 DOI: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2017.03.016
comments powered by Disqus