imasdfdsaage.jpgResearchers in journal Pediatrics say up to 7% of mental illnesses could be blamed on corporal punishment

By Linda Kinstler AND Tracy Connor

SPARE THE ROD and you spoil the child, the saying goes. But spank your kid regularly and they might wind up with mental problems.

That’s the conclusion of a provocative new study that links physical punishment like slapping, hitting or grabbing to anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other disorders down the line.

“This study documents that even simple spanking and corporal punishment can lead to adverse outcomes,” said Dr. Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the North Shore-LIJ Health System.

“Hopefully, this study will bring to people’s attention that hitting our kids is not a good thing.”

Previous studies have tied physical or sexual abuse to mental illness, but the large-scale Canadian study looked at the effects of less severe corporal punishment that many parents use to discipline their children.

It found that kids who were spanked or hit sometimes had a greater chance of developing depression, mood disorders, phobias, drug problems or major personality disorders.

The increase wasn’t dramatic, but it was found across the board. The researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics that up to 7% of mental illnesses could be attributed to the punishment.

The results didn’t impress New York parents who admitted to swatting their children to keep them in line.

“I think it’s necessary, especially at a younger age,” said Pamela Alvarez, 38, a Staten Island mom of a 11-year-old and a 6-year-old.

“Certainly anything to do with physical touch is a sensitive thing. But if there’s love in the family, if you emphasize that this is a home and that Mommy and Daddy love you, and it’s a safe home environment, then I think it works.”

“I don’t think spanking is wrong,” said Heather Dufek, 35, of Harlem, who has three kids between the age of 2 and 8. “I think there’s a place for it. It’s how I was raised, and I think I’m a really well-adjusted adult.”

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