|TORONTO, Oct 5,
1999 (Reuters) - Children spanked by their parents are twice as
likely to develop drug and alcohol problems in adulthood,
according to a Canadian study released on 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 were quick to add that once spanked a child
wouldn't automatically develop problems.
``Not everyone who is spanked or slapped
(as a child) 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 on 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 adults, 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 per cent developed drug abuse or
an anxiety disorder.
``It is likely that some, but not all
(respondents), are at risk for developing a disorder,'' she
said. ``But since I can't predict who will develop a disorder,
the risk should be avoided by practicing alternative forms of
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 per cent said ``sometimes'', 21 per cent said
``never'' and 6 per cent responded ``often''.
But spanking is much more common in
society than the data indicates, because kids are mostly
frequently spanked between the ages of 3 and 4, and that is too
early for most adults to remember, MacMillan said.
She hopes her findings will encourage
parents to avoid spanking as a disciplinary tool.
The Toronto-based legal-aid clinic,
Justice for Children and Youth, is launching a constitutional
challenge against spanking.
"The study reinforces what parents
need to hear - spanking is is not good for children and parents
need to modify their behavior, said lawyer Cheryl Milne.