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Domestic CP - October 1999

Reuters, 6 October 1999

Study sees problems in spanking

Drug, alcohol use tied to childhood discipline

By Vanessa Thomas

TORONTO -- Children spanked by their parents are twice as likely to develop drug and alcohol problems in adulthood, according to a study released Tuesday.

The study found that those who were spanked or slapped had increased rates of anxiety disorders, anti-social behavior and depression.

But, the authors of the survey of 4,888 adults in Ontario added, a spanked a child won't automatically develop problems.

"Not everyone who is spanked or slapped goes on to develop a disorder," said Dr. Harriet MacMillan, who developed the study with five other researchers at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Their study, published Tuesday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, is believed to be the largest of its kind in the world.

The researchers based their findings on the responses of people ages 15 to 64. Of the respondents who were slapped or spanked occasionally, 21 percent developed anxiety, 7 percent suffered from major depression, 13 percent had an alcohol problem, and 17 percent developed drug abuse or an anxiety disorder.

About 70 to 75 percent of Canadian parents spank their children, according to previous studies. But 41 percent of those surveyed were "rarely" spanked or slapped as children, while 34 percent said "sometimes," 21 percent said "never" and 6 percent responded "often."

But spanking is much more common than the data indicate, because kids are most frequently spanked between the ages of 3 and 4, and that is too early for most to remember, MacMillan said. She hopes her findings will encourage parents to avoid spanking as a disciplinary tool.

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