June 28, 2022, 23:22

    Smacking children as physical punishment linked to mental health issues in new research – World News

    Smacking children as physical punishment linked to mental health issues in new research – World News

    Parents could be banned from doling out physical punishment after researchers linked smacking to a surge in mental health issues in early adulthood.

    A study by the Australian Catholic University found that six in 10 subjects of an 8,500 sample reported being hit at least four times during their early years.

    The study – which focused on respondents between the ages of 16 and 24 – found girls smacked as children were 1.8 times more likely to develop a major depressive disorder.

    They were also 2.1 times more likely to experience anxiety than their non-smacked counterparts.

    Young men reported similar issues, being almost twice as likely to develop depression and anxiety if they were physically punished as kids.

    Australian Catholic University Professor Daryl Higgins is now calling for smacking to be outlawed after finding corporal punishment can be linked to serious mental health issues.

    62 countries around the world have outlawed smacking outright (stock image)
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    Image:
    Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images)

    In Australia – where the practice is still legal – different states have their own rules for what is considered lawful when disciplining children.

    In New South Wales, the punishment must not cause pain lasting longer than a brief moment and avoid the neck or head – while in Victoria the strike must be considered "reasonable under the circumstances" but still legal.

    Similarly, the UK's section 58 of the Children's Act 2004 outlaws smacking apart from when inflicting "reasonable punishment".

    The rule has become a grey area as what consists of "reasonable" corporal punishment is not currently defined.

    Speaking with ABC Radio Melbourne, Prof Higgins said: "It's time to change the laws and to ensure that children are safe from violence in their home just as they are in childcare."

    He called for kids to be protected from violence by law – in the same way adults are.

    "There is a very real connection between corporal punishment and current and lifelong experience of mental ill health," he told The Herald Sun.

    Instead of smacking, Prof Higgins said parents should employ positive reinforcement techniques to discipline their kids.

    In England and Northern Ireland, smacking is illegal unless as 'reasonable punishment' (stock image)
    (

    Image:
    Getty Images)

    He said the only benefit from smacking is "immediate compliance" – but that this quick fix is "linked to long term harm".

    Corporal punishment has been outlawed in 62 countries across the globe.

    Wales made a bold stride in March by completely outlawing the practice in a move campaigners lauded a "historic moment for children and their rights".

    First Minister Mark Drakeford introduced the new law, which makes all forms of physical punishment prohibited, under the Children (Wales) Act.

    Children were given the same protection from assault as adults – and the law also became applicable to anyone visiting Wales.

    Drakeford said of the legislation: “No more grey areas. That is all in the past. There is no place for physical punishment in a modern Wales.”

    Scotland introduced its own ban in November 2020.

    Previously in Wales, and as is still the case in England and Northern Ireland, smacking a child was unlawful, but such an assault was allowed as long as it constituted "reasonable punishment".

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    Sourse: mirror.co.uk

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