California Weed

Parents using marijuana are more likely to discipline, abuse children, study says

Recognizing signs of physical child abuse

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.
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U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year.

Stereotypes aside, marijuana use doesn’t make parents “chill,” according to a newly published study.

In fact, research from Ohio State University — published in Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions — shows that parents who use cannabis “administered more discipline techniques of all kinds to their children on average than did non-users,” according to a statement from the university.

“That includes everything from timeouts to, in some cases, physical abuse,” the statement added.

Researchers interviewed by telephone 3,023 Californian parents of children 12 or younger. Parents were asked about both their current and recent drug use and how often they discipline their children by either violent or non-violent methods.

“The findings revealed that parents who used marijuana in the past year tended to use more of all types of discipline compared to non-users, even after taking into account a variety of other factors that could impact use of discipline, such as parental stress and depression and child and parent demographics,” according to the statement.

The study found that the same held true for parents who consumed alcohol, and that 92 percent of marijuana users surveyed also reported drinking.

“It appears that users may be quicker than other parents to react to minor misbehavior,” co-author Bridget Freisthler said in a statement. “We can’t tell from this study, but it may be that parents who use marijuana or alcohol don’t want their children to spoil the buzz they have, or bother them when they have a hangover.”

The study also found that those who previously used marijuana or alcohol, but who were not currently, were more likely to resort to disciplining their children. And the more substances that parents use, the more likely they are to over-discipline.

“The use of several different kinds of substances certainly is a warning sign that parents may be relying more heavily on discipline to control their children,” Freisthler said.

The report, which was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, shows a need for caution in states, like California, where marijuana is legal, Freisthler said.

“Marijuana use is not risk-free. It affects a lot of behaviors, including parenting,” she said.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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