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Argument: Corporal punishment increases depression and suicide

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P. Greven writes: "depression often is a delayed response to the suppression of childhood anger...from being physically hit and hurt..." [by parents]...Melancholy and depression have been persistent themes in the family history, religious experience, and emotional lives of Puritans, evangelicals, fundamentalists and Pentecostals for centuries....The first assaults on children's bodies and spirits generally commences before conscious memory can recall them later. The unconscious thus becomes the repository of rage, resistance, and desire for revenge that small children feel when being struck by the adults they love...the ancient angers persist while the adult conscience directs rage inward upon the self."


M.A. Straus of the Family Research Laboratory of the University of New Hampshire analyzed data from a 1985 National Family Violence Survey. He reported this in his book "Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families and its effects on children." 1 He observed: "For the men [in the study], there is a clear tendency for depressive symptoms to increase with each increment of corporal punishment. For the women in this sample, the slope starts out even more steeply than for the men, but then declines for the highest categories of corporal punishment....the significant effect of corporal punishment occurs despite controlling for possible confounding with the five other variables -- SES, gender of the child, husband to wife violence, excessive drinking and witnessing violence between parents."[1]

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