Physical punishment (spanking etc) actually alters the brain

I’m sharing an excerpt from a new article from CNN about the harms of spanking and corporeal punishment on children. Below that I’ll share some additional links about the harms of such “discipline.”

no hittingHow to discipline the next generation is a hotly debated topic. In 2012, a national survey showed more than half of women and three-quarters of men in the United States believe a child sometimes needs a “good hard spanking.”

Science tells a different story. Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain — not only in an “I’m traumatized” kind of way but also in an “I literally have less gray matter in my brain” kind of way.

“Exposing children to HCP (harsh corporal punishment) may have detrimental effects on trajectories of brain development,” one 2009 study concluded.

Harsh corporal punishment in the study was defined as at least one spanking a month for more than three years, frequently done with objects such as a belt or paddle. Researchers found children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders, the study authors say.

The researchers also found “significant correlations” between the amount of gray matter in these brain regions and the children’s performance on an IQ test.

Several other studies support these findings. (read more)

Basically neuroplasticity works both ways. It can harm our brain, but it can also heal it and it’s never too late to heal. Neuroplasticity: enormous implications for anyone who has been labeled with a psychiatric illness

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters