Australian Parents Could Be Banned From Smacking Their Kids | It Causes Long-Term Harm, Says Study

Australian Parents Could Be Banned From Smacking Their Kids | It Causes Long-Term Harm, Says Study

"Just like adults, children too, deserve protection from abuse," Professor Higgins, one of the study's lead researchers, said.

After a recent study found that physical punishment led to an increased risk of anxiety, parents in Australia could be banned from raising their hands on their kids. 

Six in ten people said they were hit at least four times as a child, according to a study by the Australian Child Maltreatment Study conducted on 8,500 Australians of which 3500 people were between the age of 16 and 24. "Approximately 61% of young people experienced corporal punishment (defined as being physically hit for discipline more than 3 times during childhood)," the study noted.



The study came to the shocking conclusion that females who were struck as kids were 1.8 times more likely to experience a major depressive disorder, and 2.1 times to be diagnosed with anxiety. Meanwhile, males were nearly twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety if they had been victims of corporal punishment at a very young age. 

The director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies, Professor Daryl Higgins, is now leading the call for it to be made illegal for parents to hit their children.

Currently, in Australia, the rules vary from state to state. While the state of Victoria does not have any legislation for the physical punishment of children, while Queensland states teachers and parents are allowed to use "reasonable" force.



In New South Wales it is illegal for parents to hit children on their head or neck, and even if they do hit elsewhere, it should be in such a way that the pain should only last for a "short period" of time. 

"It's time to change the laws and to ensure that children are safe from violence in their home just as they are in childcare," Professor Higgins, one of the study's lead researchers, told ABC Radio Melbourne, per Daily Mail. 

Just like adults, children too, deserve protection from abuse, he said. 

"If you want to reduce population level anxiety for women and men, don't hit them as children. There is a very real connection between corporal punishment and current and lifelong experience of mental ill-health," he told The Herald Sun.

Instead of corporal punishment, he said that parents should use positive reinforcements to discipline their kids. "The only benefit is immediate compliance but we know it's clearly linked to long-term harm," he said. 



Dr. Coulson, one of Australia's top parenting psychologists said, "This doesn't mean we start getting parents in trouble and locking them up, it means... we will work with you to help you learn better ways to raise them, discipline, teach them well," per Daily Mail

"Teaching takes a long time. It's about skills, not a pill not a quick fix," he added mentioning that children should be empowered and parents should step away from hitting a child which is nothing but violence.

All over the world, over sixty countries—including Scotland, Sweden, and Korea—have made physical punishment against children illegal. Most recently, Wales made the ban, in 2022.

The study also noted a potential cultural shift in how corporal punishment is viewed as only 14.8% of young people viewed physical discipline as necessary compared with 37.9% of people aged 65 and older.






Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | ridvan_celik

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