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Depressed Dads More Likely to Spank Kids

Stephanie Rausser

A new study suggests that a parent’s mental state can lead to choosing corporal punishment to discipline their kids. According to the journal Pediatrics, 40 percent of depressed men reported spanking their kids in the last month, while only 13 percent of men without symptoms of depression said the same. The dads in the study all had one-year-old children.
Plus: Is It Ever Okay to Spank?

Previous research has found this same connection among moms, but this is the first study to focus on dads, surveying 1,746 fathers from 16 American cities. Depression is often tied to unemployment rates, making an increase in spanking a surprising outcome of the recession.

Most parenting experts advise against spanking, since it sends the confusing message that it’s ok when parents hit, but not when kids do. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement against the practice, and studies have tied the practice to lower IQ, more aggressive behavior in the preschool years, and risky or violent sexual behavior during the teen years.
Plus: Discipline —What Works, What Doesn’t

Dads, do you spank your kids? Do you find yourself more likely to spank when life takes a hard turn?