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Can smacking children lead to psychological issues?

CONTROVERSIAL: New study suggests smacking children can lead to psychological issues in adulthood (Photo credit: Shuttershock)

SPANKING NAUGHTY children increases their risk of depression and becoming hooked on illegal drugs, a new study confirms.

The news comes from the results of a US study that included a sample of more than 8,000 Californian adults.

Researchers asked simple questions about people's current mental health, and asked if they'd ever been smacked as a child or experienced other forms of physical or emotional abuse. Smacking was defined as "use of physical force with the intention of causing a child to experience pain, but not injury".

In general, the researchers found people who said they'd been smacked as children were more likely to report having problems like symptoms of depression, drinking moderate or heavy amounts of alcohol, and taking drugs.

The researchers made the case that smacking in childhood could have the same long-term negative impact as traumatic life events, such as being sexually abused or parents getting divorced.

But because of the nature of this study, a cause and effect relationship hasn't been proven, no matter how plausible the link might seem. According to NHS Health News, this means the study doesn't provide strong evidence that smacking causes adverse mental health outcomes – but nevertheless, there is a link between the two.

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