Harsh physical punishment early in life, lasting longer than the sting of a slap to reinforce a broken rule or curb unruly behavior, could carry consequences into adulthood, scientists and researchers said in a study released this month.

According to a study in the August edition of the Journal of Pediatrics, humans who are exposed “pushing, grabbing, shoving, slapping, and hitting” in their early years have a higher incidence of serious health issues in their adult years, even if there is no other type of maltreatment such as neglect or emotional, sexual or violent physical abuse.

“Harsh physical punishment was associated with higher odds of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and obesity,” said the results of the study that used data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions in both 2004 and 2005.

A total of 34,226 participants who were at least 20 years old gave details about their lives, including history of family dysfunction and mental disorders, which the same group studied last year.

Led then, too, by Tracie O. Afifi of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, researchers found that children who experience harsh physical punishment accounted for up to five percent of Axis I disorders, such as depression and social phobias.

Up to seven percent of development and personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorders, are linked to harsh physical punishments.


Alexis Taylor

AFRO Staff Writer