Parental use of corporal punishment in Europe: Intersection between public health and policy.


Studies have linked the use of corporal punishment of children to the development of mental health disorders. Despite the recommendation of international governing bodies for a complete ban of the practice, there is little European data available on the effects of corporal punishment on mental health and the influence of laws banning corporal punishment. Using data from the School Children Mental Health Europe survey, the objective of this cross-sectional study was to examine the prevalence and legal status of corporal punishment across six European countries and to evaluate the association between parental use of corporal punishment and children’s mental health. The study found that odds of having parents who reported using occasional to frequent corporal punishment were 1.7 times higher in countries where its use is legal, controlling for socio-demographic factors. Children with parents who reported using corporal punishment had higher rates of both externalized and internalized mental health disorders.