Spanking Alters Brain Development In Children The Way Severe Abuse Does, New Study Finds

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Spanking Alters Brain Development In Children The Way Severe Abuse Does, New Study Finds

Harvard University researchers have revealed the findings of a new study which shows that children's brain development is altered by being hit or spanked by their parents.

The study found that children who had been spanked but had not been abused had similar reactions to the stimuli of seeing angry or fearful faces. Responses were measured using MRI scans. Children who had not been abused or spanked did not show the same responses.

Katie A. McLaughlin, Director of the Stress & Development Lab in Harvard's Department of Psychology, said of the findings:

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence. In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

In the study, the authors stated:

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked."

McLaughlin went on to say:

"While we might not conceptualize corporal punishment to be a form of violence, in terms of how a child's brain responds, it's not all that different than abuse. It's more a difference of degree than of type."

The study does indicate that even low-level physical punishment of children can leave them scarred for life. There is already strong evidence showing children who have been hit or abused often become violent adults or abusers as they have aged, they are also much more likely to have anxiety and depression. Child development experts have therefore said that children should never be corrected through physical force but through strong parenting.

Jorge Cuartas, who led the study, added:

"It's important to consider that corporal punishment does not impact every child the same way, and children can be resilient if exposed to potential adversities. But the important message is that corporal punishment is a risk that can increase potential problems for children's development, and following a precautionary principle, parents and policymakers should work toward trying to reduce its prevalence."

[h/t: Upworthy]

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Thinking Humanity: Spanking Alters Brain Development In Children The Way Severe Abuse Does, New Study Finds
Spanking Alters Brain Development In Children The Way Severe Abuse Does, New Study Finds
Harvard University researchers have revealed the findings of a new study which shows that children's brain development is altered by being hit or span
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