Is spanking or slapping your kids an acceptable form of discipline? Not according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, which suggests corporal punishment may put their mental health at risk. Apparently, kids who regularly receive physical punishment may develop mental health problems that stay with them until adulthood.

To back their theory up, researchers studied data from 2004 and 2005 on around 34,000 people who were part of the US National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The participants were asked, on a scale of never to very often, if they had ever suffered physical abuse from their parents or other adults. Were they ever grabbed, hit, or slapped? Respondents who answered sometimes or worse were classified as having had harsh physical punishment.

Based on the results, around 6 percent of the participants reportedly suffered harsh punishment during their childhood. In addition, 7 percent of mental disorders were associated with physical punishment. "We're not talking about just a tap on the bum," says study author Tracie Afifi, an assistant professor in the department of community health sciences at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg. "We were looking at people who used physical punishment as a regular means to discipline their children."

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As parents, you have your own strategies when it comes to disciplining your children. Keep in mind, however, that whatever you do today has corresponding consequences in the future.

(Photo by Abhi Here via Flickr Creative Commons)

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