Wednesday, 29 August 2012

'Childhood smacking and later mental illness examined'

For the last couple of months i have made it part of my routine to have a look through the latest news on the nursing times. At first i found the articles very hard going in terms of the language used and the topics but also very interesting, i know it may be strange for a 17 year old to be interested in such things but the health or ill-health effects everyone and is therefore very important in my eyes.Personally,i  like articles that not only answer questions but leave you with many more questions.

While, have my daily fix  i came across this article that caught my eye.

'Childhood smacking and later mental illness examined'
“Adults smacked as children have higher risk of mental illness later on,” the Daily Mail boldly reports.
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. 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.
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. This study also relies upon self-reported information, with adults asked to recall being punished as a child. 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.

The following types of abuse were excluded:
  • severe physical abuse (being hit so hard it left marks, bruises or caused an injury)
  • sexual abuse
  • emotional abuse
  • physical neglect
  • emotional neglect
  • exposure to intimate partner violence (having an abused mother)

    However the results suggested that the follow mental health problems were more likely to occur:
  • major depression
  • dysthymia (subthreshold depression)
  • mania
  • hypomania
  • any mood disorder
  • panic disorder with or without agoraphobia
  • social phobia
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • any anxiety disorder
  • any alcohol or drug abuse or dependence
  • paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal
  • antisocial, histrionic, borderline, narcissistic
  • avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive
  • Although the researchers attempted to use validated questions to assess harsh physical punishment and child maltreatment, this was determined by self-reporting, which makes the results less reliable. It is possible that adults did not correctly report whether they were punished or not.
  • Participants were asked to recall events that took place in their childhood. This also may affect the results as it relies purely on the memory of the adult. 
  • The participants were also asked to recall whether their parents or adult carers had problems with alcohol or drugs. Ideally, this would have been confirmed through clinical records or by collecting this information from the parents themselves. However, the researchers did not do this.

According to the researchers, 32 nations around the world have banned corporal punishment of kids, however the US and Canada are not among them. In the UK, parents are allowed to smack their children without causing “reddening of the skin”.
The researchers say that while other studies have examined the link between physical punishment and a broad range of mental health disorders, none have done so in a nationally representative sample that controlled for several types of child maltreatment.
All 34,653 adults were interviewed face-to-face by a trained interviewer. Most of the questions asked were based on a five-point scale (never, almost never, sometimes, fairly often and very often). Childhood physical punishment included events occurring before the age of 18.
To assess physical punishment, the participants were asked: “As a child how often were you ever pushed, grabbed, shoved, slapped or hit by your parents or any adult living in your house?”. Those who answered “sometimes”, “fairly often” or “very often” were considered to have experienced “harsh physical punishment” and were included in the analysis. Harsh physical punishment included acts of physical force beyond slapping, such as spanking.
Overall, 1,258 (5.9%) of the participants reported harsh physical punishment, without experiencing more severe child maltreatment. The main findings were:
The researchers conclude that harsh physical punishment (in the absence of child maltreatment) is associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse or dependence and personality disorders in the general population. They go on to say that their findings “inform the ongoing debate around the use of physical punishment” and that the findings provide evidence that harsh physical punishment is “related to mental disorders”. While the researchers suggest that policymakers might consider making a statement that physical punishment “should not be used in children of any age”, they do not call for a definitive “smacking ban”.
This study provides some evidence of a link between harsh physical punishment and lifetime adult mental disorders. It does not provide any evidence that one causes the other. Importantly, there may be many other medical, personal, social or lifestyle factors that contribute to adults developing a mental disorder. There are other limitations to this study, which the authors freely admit:
As a result, the headline that “adults smacked as children have higher risk of mental illness later on” is misleading because it does not take into account the limitations of this study.

Trust, the daily mail to be misleading! As a child I was never a bad, never really in trouble. But the one time I did do something really bad, i cant remember what, I did get a smack on the bum for it, yes i cried not because it was sore but because i shocked but i never did what ever i did again and from then on i was more careful. I learnt my lesson, that little smack never did me any harm in fact it was a good life lesson for me.

In my case, smacking was a good a thing however the study fails to mention that all children are different and react differently, e.g. being smacked may make a child never do what ever they did again or it may make they do it more as they want to punish there parents for smacking them and therefore repeats the action that got them mad in the first place.

What do you think, is smacking good or bad?

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